The Week in Beer: Fools rush out - for great local beer events
David Bardallis | Contributor
It looks as if our preview of summer weather is over, but that’s OK — maybe a freeze or two will help kill off some of the mosquitoes, wasps, and other nasties faked out by Mother Nature into spawning early. In the meantime, there’s no shortage of tasty local beer to keep you warm and in high spirits. (Admittedly, some beer is more local than other beer, but God also made designated drivers for a reason.) Check out your weekly beer planner for the end of March and beginning of April, below.
Thursday, March 29
>> You have a friend who owes you a favor, right? Everyone does. Ring that friend and tell him or her you need to call in that favor: to be your designated driver up to the Shark Club, 1140 S. Michigan, Howell, for Barrel Aged Beer Night. Beginning at 7 p.m., a dozen or so kegs of high-gravity brews matured in oak barrels, bourbon or otherwise, will be tapped, including Allagash Curieux (!), Arcadia Shipwreck Porter, Brewery Vivant Barrel Aged Triomphe, Dark Horse Bourbon Plead the 5th, Dogfish Head Burton Baton, Founders Backwoods Bastard, New Holland Dragon’s Milk, New Holland Envious, Rogue John-John Dead Guy, Rogue John-John Hazelnut, Short’s Bourbon Huma and Tri-City Bourbon Dragon Slayer. No cover, no tickets, no reservations necessary — just have your friend pick you up and take you!
Friday, March 30
>> What the heck is a bock beer? How about a doppelbock? Is it true “bock” means “goat” in German? What’s up with that? Find out the answer to these — or, anyway, some of these — questions and more at the latest beer tasting class at Whole Foods Cranbrook, 990 W. Eisenhower. Sign up for the low price of $6 and receive six samples and a solid dose of wisdom from the Whole Foods beer mavens. Call 734-997-7500 to reserve.
>> When the sun goes down, it’s time to head out — for the second annual Fool Moon street party in front of Grizzly Peak. The foolery begins at 5 p.m. with live bands, food, and the collabo-beer between the Peak, Blue Tractor, and Jolly Pumpkin: FoolBrew Spiced Belgian Witbier (read some tasting notes here). Enjoy your beer as the light fades and hundreds of Ann Arborites take to the streets to parade their creative “luminary” puppets. This is a must-see event, ferreals. (And don't forget to come back downtown April 1 for the FestiFools puppet parade.)
Tuesday, April 3
>> Return to Grizzly Peak, the Den to be exact, for a very special Brewer’s Night from 6-9 p.m. Why special? Head brewer Duncan Williams is hoping the faithful will join him in killing a keg of year-aged Verlorene Hosen Uber-Marzen Double X-Treme Oktoberfest. (The beer’s name, which means “lost pants,” is a clue to its strength.) Aside from that, the usual brewery tours, sampler discounts, and beer camaraderie will be available. Come thirsty, my friends.
Wednesday, April 4
>> Cue “The Final Countdown” by 1980s hair metal band Europe: It’s the last battle for the ultimate prize in the inaugural Ashley’s Invitational Brewery Throwdown. Enter the arena at 7525 Wayne Road, Westland, beginning at 6 p.m. for an epic struggle between the forces of Short’s Brewing and the warriors of Michigan Brewing, each of whom will have eight beers on tap and representatives vying for your beer-purchasing dollars in their quest for final victory. The winner is the brewery with the most sales by close at midnight. Come out to support your team and find out who is the first Throwdown champeen of the world!
>> Over at the Corner Brewery, 720 Norris, Ypsilanti, the post-Rat Fest celebration continues with yet more Rat Pad beer from the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, which had something like a dozen kegs in January’s homebrew-a-palooza. As of this writing, which particular kegs will go on at 6 p.m. is unknown, but since they were all good, you should go check them out (on your way to Westland, of course). As always, any beers left at 9 p.m. will be available for growler fills.
Thursday, April 5
>> Can’t get enough of the Boys from Bellaire (apologies to female employees of Short’s Brewing, but “Girls” ruins my alliteration)? Check out the Short’s tap takeover at Ashley’s in Ann Arbor, 338 S. State, where 20 kegs of their, erm, unique beers will be tapped at 6 p.m. There are some of the usual suspects, like Huma Lupa Licious IPA, Bellaire Brown and The Soft Parade Fruit Rye Ale, but watch for less standard offerings such as Raisin Apollo Double IPA, Aorta Ale Double Red, Ginger in the Rye Munich Ale and Cup A Joe Coffee Cream Stout. Also look for the rarely seen Love Knife Belgian Amber Ale and a more recent Short’s experiment, Cinnamon Doppelbock. For the full list, check AnnArborBeer.com, where it will appear "short"-ly. See what I did there?
Notes on the Napkin
>> On April 1 and every Sunday in April, the Corner Brewery is opening at 10 a.m. and serving brunch until 1 p.m. Hooray for the repeal of the pointless Sunday morning prohibition against alcohol sales! The $16 prix fixe menu includes a beverage (“bloody beer,” mimosa, plain old beer, wine, cider), an entrÃ©e (bagels and lox, huevos rancheros, etc.), a side, and a dessert. And, of course, if the weather cooperates, no doubt all of this can be enjoyed in the fresh air of the beer garden. Visit the Corner Facebook page for full menu details.
>> Ashley’s in Westland has set the date, May 12, for their fifth Michigan Cask Ale Fest, in which nearly two dozen firkins of “real ale” from breweries around the state and country (and in some cases, other countries) are tapped and served au naturel, with no added carbon dioxide or nitrogen or anything. It’s a unique event, and tickets are only $20 if you buy before April 2 (they are $30 thereafter and $35 at the door, if still available). Tickets include 12 sample tokens (more can be purchased on-site) as well as a commemorative pin. See micaskale.ashleys.com for more details, including the beer lineup, and to get tickets.
David Bardallis is a freelance writer and editor, blogger, bon vivant and man about town. Visit “All the Brews Fit to Pint” at AnnArborBeer.com, follow @allthebrews on Twitter, or join the "All the Brews Fit to Pint" Facebook page. Email your beer-related thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.