The Week in Beer: Celebrate Independence Day with craft-brewed beer
David Bardallis | Contributor
Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how fortunate we are, as lovers of fresh, local craft beer, to live where we do. And I don’t just mean in the Washtenaw County area, which is indeed chock-full of great beer options, but in America the Beautiful itself.
Little more than a generation ago, our country was (rightfully for the most part) derided as a land of bland swill, the laughingstock of the rest of the beer-drinking world, which told off-color jokes about America’s offerings.
Now, thanks to the rise of the craft brewing movement, America boasts the widest selection of high-quality beer styles available anywhere in the world, as talented brewers re-discover and even re-invent classic styles from our European (and other) forebears as well as constantly create new categories of their own — or even beers that defy categories.
So whether you’re heading up north to the cottage or chilling out in your backyard for Independence Day, be sure to celebrate with some delicious beer from one of America’s many small, independent breweries. And, of course, if you’re sticking around town, your Week in Beer has some ideas for you to rock your 4th of July with liberty and fraternity for all, amen.
Monday, July 4, Independence Day >> The third “Dark Monday” at Arbor Brewing Co., presented in conjunction with the Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s Top of the Park, takes place from 7-9 p.m. Chill out with a reading of excerpts from a series of books about seminal rock ’n’ roll albums, followed by a DJ spinning songs from the featured artist. Tonight’s book: "Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A.," by Geoffrey Himes, read by local writer Emlyn Chand. DJ: Aaron Smith of WCBN. Cash bar, happy hour prices, and no cover. Don’t forget to grab a pint or two of Festival Saison Ale, proceeds from which benefit the AASF. Tuesday, July 5 >> The first Tuesday of the month means beer release party over at Corner Brewery, 720 Norris, Ypsilanti. This time it’s Hell Comes to Hoptown Brown, a robust brown ale with citrusy hop notes balanced against a rich, malty flavor profile. From 6-8 p.m., enjoy pints of this limited-release brew along with pizza and other snacks. Beer release parties are free for Arbor Brewing and Corner Mug Club members; $10 for infidels. >> First Tuesday is also Brewer’s Night at the Grizzly Peak Den, 120 W. Washington St., Ann Arbor, from 6-9 p.m. As usual, there will be great beers on tap, like Yorkshire Angel, a session beer (4.6 percent alcohol by volume) brewed with oat malt; discounts on samplers; and tours of the Grizzly brewery, where the magic happens, courtesy of brewer Duncan Williams and co. Be sure to try the special cask ale, Honey ’n’ Oats ’n’ Hops Ale, a version of Yorkshire Angel dry-hopped and cask-conditioned with honey. >> In fact, first Tuesdays are rather busy on the beer front, with Opera on Tap at Frenchie’s (Sidetrack Bar & Grill) in Ypsilanti, a monthly mix of culture and beer (or do I repeat myself?). The show begins at 8:30 p.m., but seating is limited, so call 734 483-1035 to reserve your place and visit sidetrackbarandgrill.com for more info. Notes on the Napkin
- Obligatory Wolverine beer garden update: The parking lot outside of Wolverine State Brewing, 2019 W. Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor, continues to slowly transform into an outdoor drinking area, which is important considering how short the outdoor drinking season is in our beloved Great Beer State. The fence is in place and the tables, chairs and umbrellas have been delivered and await deployment. Current target for opening is July 1, pending slow-moving approval from distant, lackadaisical alcohol bureaucrats with no personal economic stake in their petty decisions or indecisions.
- Take me out to the ballgame — with beer! Wolverine is organizing a bus trip to The D July 31 to watch the second-I-mean-first-I-mean-second-place Tigers take on the L.A. Angels. Your $70 ticket includes two pre-game beers at the brewery, beer on the bus (Premium Lager), game ticket and T-shirt. Meet at the taproom at 10 a.m. for the 1:05 p.m. game start. Stop by the taproom to sign up.
- What’s on tap at Plymouth’s Liberty Street Brewing, 149 W. Liberty, these days? Glad you asked! There’s a refreshing Biere de Garde, a summer brew approaching session strength at 4.8 percent ABV, and Lime Cerveza, a light, citrusy lager of slightly larger strength at 5.5 percent. Want something a little more substantial? Check out Liberty One, a 7 percent porter and three-time medalist at the World Expo of Beer, or Brewer’s Garden Amber Ale, a 6.4 percent brew that combines the ingredients of Liberty’s Red Glare Amber Ale and regular IPA. Why do not do as Patrick Henry urged and go get yourself some Liberty?
- So let it be written: State politicians have again waved their magic legislative wands and declared July to be Michigan Craft Beer Month, offering a resolution to “commend Michigan craft brewers for providing jobs, improving the balance of trade, supporting Michigan agriculture, and educating residents about the history and culture of beer while promoting the responsible consumption of beer as a beverage of moderation.”
- And finally, in that same vein, a long-awaited bill to formally lift restrictions on homebrewing clubs’ ability to meet and sample their beers at brewpubs and restaurants as well as conduct tastings on site (e.g., for judging homebrewing competitions) passed the state House last week and now faces the next step in the sausage-making process when it heads to the Senate’s Regulatory Reform Committee. USA! USA!