The Week in Beer: End of August is brimming with great brews
David Bardallis | Contributor
Thursday, Aug. 25
>> The “Brew for the River” celebrations continue at Grizzly Peak, 120 W. Liberty, which at 4 p.m. will unveil Watershed Ale, a cask-conditioned, blended beer with bee balm and yarrow, two herbs native to the Huron River watershed. Bring your “Brew Passport” to get it stamped for a chance to win free beer and help support the preservation and education efforts of the Huron River Watershed Council, which receives a portion of the proceeds from each Watershed Ale sold. Visit www.hrwc.org for more information.
>> Satchel's BBQ returns to the Wolverine State Brewing tap room at 2019 W. Stadium, beginning at 6 p.m. Your correspondent was able to try Satchel's this past weekend and thus far agrees with the "damn, that's good" consensus that's begun to develop. Wash some smoked pulled pork or brisket down with the new "black pilsner" or Wolverine Dark Lager and you're really on to something. Even better, Satchel's is likely to become a regular Thursday fixture at the tap room.
Friday, Aug. 26
>> Whole Foods Cranbrook, 990 W. Eisenhower, continues to gain a reputation as an unlikely but bona fide destination for craft beer. Join in-store beer guru Jimmy from 6-7 p.m. for his latest tasting class, “World Favorites.” For $6 you get six samples of beer styles from around the globe as well as a hardcore knowledge infusion. Space is limited, so stop by the Customer Service Desk or call 734-997-7500 to reserve your spot.
>> Then head over to Ashley's, 338 S. State, for the 7 p.m. tapping of Bell's Oracle Double IPA, a hophead's dry-hopped dream that weighs in at 10 percent alcohol by volume and features aromatic and bitterness notes from Amarillo and Pacific Jade hops, and lots of them. Good times.
Saturday, Aug. 27
>> Oktoberfest season is right around the corner, but you don’t need to wait for it to get your German on: The last German Park Picnic of 2011 goes down beginning at 4 p.m. in the verdant setting at 5549 Pontiac Trail. As always, there will be great German food, beer, and music, including a live performance from Enzian and the German Park dancers, who are sort of like the Solid Gold Dancers from the 1980s, except totally different. Admission is $5 (no admission after 9 p.m.), with kids 12 and younger getting in free with parent. Be sure to bring essentials like bug spray and cash to exchange for food and beer tickets.
Sunday, Aug. 28
>> The Corner Brewery, 720 Norris, Ypsilanti, is the place to be today beginning at 2 p.m. Why? Because it’s not just time once again for the chill beer garden grooves of Halcyon Sundaze’s DJs, it’s also the day of the Corner’s annual Backyard BBQ. Local “beerguyver” Mike O’Brien will once again be roasting a pig for the occasion to go with some delicious coleslaw, baked potatoes, and corn on the cob and other vegetarian kinda things. As if all that weren’t enough, there’s also Cornhole and other competitive games for non-athletic beer drinkers (you know who you are). Now how much would you pay? Sorry, got into my TV infomercial hawker mode there — there’s no cover, as always. Don’t miss this end-of-summer tradition.
Tuesday, Aug. 30
>> Can’t get enough Cornhole? (For the uninitiated, it’s a fun bean bag toss game; see cornholegame.org for details.) The last organized Cornhole Tuesday happens at the Corner beginning at 6:30 p.m. and goes until sundown. Get on over to toss a few bags while you toss back a few beers.
Thursday, Sept. 1
>> Next stop on the “Brew for the River” beer tour is Arbor Brewing, 114 E. Washington, where, at 4 p.m., owners Matt and Rene Greff will talk about the recent completion of their “Green Brewery Project” over at the Corner. Huron River Watershed Executive Director Laura Rubin will also say a few words while everybody enjoys Blackberry Blonde Ale, a special beer exclusive for the event. Once again, proceeds from the sale of the beer go to support HRWC’s work.
Notes on the Napkin
- As football season approaches fast, so do the new batches of beer at the Wolverine tap room at 2019 W. Stadium. Returning this week are Insolent Mink IPA, a hoppy monster of an ale; District 16 Amber Vienna Lager, a nice precursor for Oktoberfest; and the one your correspondent is most excited about, Big House Brown, a “session” lager that will be back on the taps Sept. 1 for the first time since the tap room opened. If you didn’t get to try it the first time, make sure you get a taste this fall! (But do save some for me.)
- Wolverine has also announced plans to make your Michigan football season even more of a blast. For every home game, enjoy a $10 shuttle to and from the stadium (patrons only — that is, buy some beer, too!), Ray’s Red Hots in the tap room, and beer specials whether the Victors are victorious or not. For away games, there will be a tailgate-style buffet available, featuring food from Holiday’s Restaurant. And in October and November, WTKA 1050 AM will be doing live wrap-up shows from the tap room. Plenty of reasons to consider Wolverine for your football headquarters this season!
- While we're on the subject of sports, The Arena sports bar, 203 E. Washington, is now offering $2.50 bottles of Michigan beer every Thursday night beginning at 7 p.m. Current selections include: Arcadia Angler's Ale and Coco Loco Stout, New Holland Mad Hatter IPA and The Poet Stout, Saugatuck Pier Cove Porter and Singapore IPA, Short's Huma Lupa Licious IPA and Soft Parade Fruit Ale, Keweenaw Widow Maker Black Ale, and plenty more. Just in time for baseball playoffs and those Thursday night football matchups! And don't forget Mondays, when all drafts — including the currently pouring Bell's Two Hearted Ale and Founders Red's Rye PA — are $2.50 all day long.
- Over at Grizzly Peak, 120 W. Washington, if you haven’t checked out WeizenHopf, a hoppy hefeweizen, or the Anniversary Ale, a hopped-up black ale, make sure you get some before they’re gone, as they are delicious. Up next at the main bar is Rotweizen, an “amber” hefeweizen, and Roggenbier, a hefeweizen brewed with rye. And in the next several weeks, look for a Baltic Porter, a Honey Wheat Ale, and, of course an Oktoberfest-style beer.
- Oh, and mark Sept. 16 and 17 on your calendar for the annual Oktoberfest street party in downtown Ann Arbor on Washington St. Live music, dancing, bratwurst and other foods, and, of course, great craft beer will all be on tap as we bid a fond farewell to another summer. Arbor Brewing, Grizzly Peak, and Blue Tractor are all expected to participate again this year. Prost!
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.