The Week in Beer: Pace yourself on the road to Oktoberfest
David Bardallis | Contributor
Thursday, Sept. 6
>> The final Brew for the River event is going down at Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery, 207 E. Washington, from 5-7:30 p.m. Head brewer Tim Schmidt presents Hay Creek Rye Ale, a 5.5 percent alcohol-by-volume (ABV) libation brewed with rye (obvs), Centennial hops, orange and lemon peel and coriander, perfect for an end-of-summer treat. For those who have been getting their Brew Passports stamped at previous Brew for the Rivers, tonight’s the big night when the lucky winner of free beer will be determined. As always, proceeds from sales of the beer will benefit the Huron River Watershed Council’s education and conservation work. For more information on the beer, Hay Creek, Tim Schmidt, and HRWC, go here.
>> Fans of Sierra Nevada will want to pay a visit to The Arena, 203 E. Washington, when six of the Northern California brewery’s beers will be tapped at 6 p.m., including four from the Beer Camp series: Sticke Imperial Pilsner (#43), Snowed-In Oatmeal Stout (#45), Long Stem Floral IPA (#53), and Red-Oric Imperial Red Ale (#65). The other two beers are standards Pale Ale and Torpedo Extra IPA.
Friday, Sept. 7
>> What’s on your shopping list? Beer and cheese, right? Then you’ll want to hit up Whole Foods Cranbrook, 990 W. Eisenhower, from 5-7 p.m. for the first Michigan beer happy hour of September, where the fantastic beers of Bell’s will be paired with specialty cheeses from the Whole Foods cheese department. Brews include Octoberfest, Hopsoulution Double IPA, Amber Ale, Le Batteur Biere de Garde and the brand-new
Midwestern Pale Ale Pale Ale. Be there or be, um, absent. But trust me, you don’t want to be absent.
Saturday, Sept. 8
>> The Wurst Bar, 705 W. Cross, Ypsilanti, is being taken over. Not by corporate raiders, but by the flavor ales of Arcadia Brewing. From opening time (11 a.m.) until whenever the kegs run out, Wurst will be pouring such brews as Jaw Jacker Pumpkin Ale, Loch Down Scotch Ale, Cereal Killer Barleywine, Sky High Rye Ale, The Yard Session IPA, and Warcraft, a bourbon barrel-aged version of B-Craft Black IPA. Get it while you can!
>> The fifth annual HomeGrown Festival takes place at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market from 6-10 p.m. For those not in the know, the HomeGrown Festival celebrates local food and community, focusing attention on the people who grow our food and the land that sustains us. Sample from fresh food grown on local farms and prepared by local chefs, listen to live music from local bands, and wash it all down with local beer from Arbor Brewing, Jolly Pumpkin, Wolverine, and Original Gravity breweries. If you’re more inclined toward wine, cider, mead, or even kombucha tea, local varieties of same will also be available. And if you entered the festival's homebrewing competition, you’ll want to be present to see if you won fabulous prizes. For more information and to download the official program, check out homegrownfestival.org.
Sunday, Sept. 9
>> Another Halcyon Sundaze comes to a close, but this time with a twist: The first-ever Halcyon Daze Festival bursts out of the Corner Brewery beer garden and takes over the parking lot with a tent full of even more local vendors, musicians, nonprofits, and other exhibitors all showcasing their talents and wares at this free community event. In honor of the impending launch of Arbor Brewing India, the theme is all about the subcontinent. Wear your favorite sari or kurta; heck, if you’re feeling really wild, you might even opt for a shalwar kameez or sherwani (thanks, Google!). And, of course, a special beer will be pouring for the occasion. Event runs from noon to 9 p.m., and don’t worry if your shalwar kameez is in the wash, Indian garb is only suggested, not mandatory.
Tuesday, Sept. 11
>> Ashley's, 338 S. State, leaps into fall with an autumnal event featuring more than a half-dozen seasonal brews like Arcadia Jaw Jacker, New Holland Ichabod, Shipyard Pumpkinhead, Short’s Autumn Ale, Southern Tier Harvest Ale, Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, and Sam Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin Ale. Beers tapped at 6 p.m.; campfire and s’mores not included.
Wednesday, Sept. 12
>> The time is drawing near. You can feel it in the air. You can feel it in your bones. You can feel it in your taste buds. Wolverine The Massacre Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Dark Lager will soon be yours to experience. It officially releases Oct. 11, at a price of $24.99 per four-pack. But today you can line up at the tap room, 2019 W. Stadium, to purchase a pre-sale ticket for a mere $20.99. No shoving, please.
>> Down in Milan, Original Gravity, 440 County St., is hosting a fundraiser for the Friends of Michigan Animals Rescue. Come out from 5-7 p.m. for the OG farmers market, 50/50 raffles, brewery tours, snacks, and, of course, plenty of fresh beer. Proceeds go to help FMAR in its mission to, you know, rescue animals from Michigan.
Thursday, Sept. 13
>> The culmination of Brew for the River, the annual Suds on the River fund-raising event for the Huron River Watershed Council takes place at the home of Ruth and John Langs in Ann Arbor Township from 6-9 p.m. Be prepared for a plethora of great beer from all of Ann Arbor’s breweries as well as food from too many amazing establishments to list. Tickets are $75 for HRWC members and $100 for nonmembers; go here for more information and to buy.
>> In case you didn’t know, Michigan beer is kind of a big deal. It should be an even bigger deal, but that’s a topic for another time. At any rate, Arbor Brewing is doing their part for the cause with this month’s beer tasting, which revolves entirely about beers made right here in the Mitten. Sample from more than two dozen of the world’s finest ales and lagers, enjoy a buffet of savory appetizers, and put your name in the running to win some awesome beeraphernalia. Tasting runs from 7-9 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door, if available. Call 734-213-1393 to order.
Notes on the Napkin
- The fall beer season is just getting started. Get ready for a Sept. 19 Bell’s beer dinner at Captain Joe’s Grill in Whitmore Lake ($50 all inclusive; call 734-257-9000), the Second Annual Whitmore Lake Beer & Wine Taste Fest on Sept. 22 ($25 in advance; call 734-368-1629), and a New Holland beer dinner at Grange Kitchen & Bar October 16 (call 734-995-2107).
- Even though Michigan is known as the Wolverine State, it is said there are no (or very few) wolverines here. But that doesn't mean there won’t be any Wolverine sightings this fall. In fact, Wolverine State Brewing’s E.T. Crowe (aka the Beer Wench) is counting on there being many. So if you have a “Wolverine sighting,” aka spot a cool display of Wolverine beer in a local supermarket or other store, snap a photo and send it to the Wench for a chance to win a Wolverine swag pack including a T-shirt, hat, pint glass and a growler fill of your choice. See details here.
- Now on at Grizzly Peak, 120 W. Washington) is Roggenbier, a rye hefeweizen, and coming soon is Rotweizen (a malty red hefeweizen), Schwarzweizen (a black hefe), and by the end of September, Oktoberfest. Over in Plymouth, Liberty Street Brewing, 149 W. Liberty, has tapped its popular fall seasonal Punkin Pie Ale and soon will add Liberty One Porter and Octoberfest.
- Congratulations to Arbor Brewing, whose Buzzsaw IPA has picked up another medal in another competition (following its Best of Show win in the 2011 World Expo of Beer in Frankenmuth): this time a bronze in the IPA category in the U.S. Open Beer Championship, which featured more than 1650 entries in 65 categories.
- Be on the lookout for Escoffier Bretta Ale, a one-off collaboration between Grand Rapids’s Brewery Vivant and new kids on the Michigan block New Belgium Brewing. It’s a 9.5 percent ABV “funky” amber ale primarily fermented with Vivant’s house yeast and then aged with New Belgium’s strain of wild Brettanomyces. Look for four packs in Vivant’s distinctive 16-ounce cans and catch it on draft at Ashley’s if you’re able: It’s one of the few places in the state to have it. Read more about the beer here. Happy hunting!
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.