The Week in Beer: Plenty of chances to keep your drinking muscles in shape
David Bardallis | Contributor
It’s Thursday, and I’m still recovering from the 14th annual Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival, which, in case you live in a cave and somehow missed it, was held last Friday and Saturday in Ypsilanti’s Riverside Park.
More than 10,000 beer-loving bodies came and went, sampling from the largest collection of Michigan-made beers ever assembled in one place. It was fantastic fun, and if you were too intimidated to go, you can always try the smaller, more intimate Detroit Fall Beer Festival in October. And to help keep your beer-drinking muscles in shape, the Week in Beer has plenty of good training ideas for you, below.
Thursday, July 28
>> Though it’s technically not quite “local,” Howell isn’t too far away, and you’ll want to hop back in the car after work to make the 6 p.m. start time of the First Semi-Annual Weird Michigan Beer and Food Exhibition at Howell’s Shark Club, 1140 S. Michigan (right off the freeway). As the name implies, the event showcases some of the more off-the-wall beers out there, including Arbor Brewing’s infamous Chips and Salsa Ale, Original Gravity’s 440 Pepper Smoker (made with jalapeno peppers) and Wolverine State Brewing’s Bourbon Aged Bread Winner (made with lots of biscuit malt), as well as more than 20 other interesting beers on tap from across the mitten. Most beers will be between $5 and $7 a pint, but fpur-ounce. sample pours are a buck each. The fun lasts until 10 p.m. and includes pasties and other unique Michigan foods, cool brewery and beer media folk, and swanky prizes and giveaways. For the full list of beers, check out the official event page on Facebook.
Friday, July 29
>> Beginning at 4 p.m. when the doors of the tap room open, Wolverine's newest beer, Double Fisted Doppelbock, will flow like God's own nectar from the taps. It's brewed with all German ingredients for that authenticity thing (even if the name doesn't end in the traditional "-ator") and clocks in around 8.5 percent alcohol by volume (yeah, it's a session doppelbock). Read more it about it on the Beer Wench's blog.
Saturday, July 30
>> It’s German Park Picnic time again! Grab your seat cushions, tablecloth, bug spray, sunscreen, and playing cards or board games and head out to 5549 Pontiac Trail from 4-11 p.m. for a grand old time with German food, beer and music. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children 12 and younger (all under-21s must be accompanied by a parent). And bring plenty of cash, too, because you’ll need it to buy the tickets that you can convert into cold, foamy buckets of beer and delicious German sausage and cucumber salads. Lederhosen is optional.
Sunday, July 31
>> We’re all behind our baseball team! Tickets are still available for Wolverine’s bus to The D to watch the division-leading Tigers take on the L.A. Angels in a titanic battle of Third Coast vs. West Coast. $70 gets you a worry-free ride to and from Detroit, two pre-bus beers from the Wolverine tap room, more beer on the bus, game ticket, and a T-shirt to show your Michigan beer and baseball pride. Stop by the tap room to get your ticket, and meet at 10 a.m. the day of — you want some time to enjoy your breakfast beers before hitting the afternoon action.
Tuesday, August 2>> Beer release time again at Arbor Brewing, 114 E. Washington; this time it's Olde Number 33 German Alt, a limited-release, stronger version of the Arbor standard Olde Number 22 Alt. From 6-8 p.m., enjoy this smooth, creamy, dark ale with the amped-up roastiness and dry finish along with a table full of tasty snacks. Mingle with the brewers and other cool people and take home a jug at a special discounted price during the event. Free for Mug Club members; $10 for the rest of all y'all.
>> Have you been to Brewer's Night at Grizzly Peak's Den? It's a cool way to learn more about the Grizzly brewery and beers, straight from the man himself, head brewer Duncan Williams. And while he drops the knowledge on you, you can enjoy discounted samples of his beers as well as a special cask ale, this time a dry-hopped (with Perle and Liberty hops) version of Wee Owen's Roggenbier, a sort of hefeweizen-ish beer, except brewed with rye malt.
Thursday, August 4
>> Happy hour just got a lot happier. From 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Mercy's, 300 S. Thayer (in the former Earle Uptown space at the Bell Tower Hotel), sample from more than 30 great craft beers from Arbor, Wolverine, Arcadia, Short's, Jolly Pumpkin, Dark Horse and more. Tickets are $25 per person and include appetizers and other finger foods. Call 734-996-3729 to buy yours.
>> Then join the dashing, swashbuckling David Munro of Bell's Brewery from 7-9 p.m. for a meet and greet at Captain Joe's Grill, 9901 N. Main, Whitmore Lake. Live music, games, specials, and giveaways will accompany the al fresco event, which takes place out on the patio. And, of course, David will talk about all things Bell's in his dulcet English accent. Call Captain Joe's at 734-257-9000 for more details.
>> Again, not quite "local," but the Second Annual Hot Glass + Cold Beer event, 5-10 p.m. at the Glass Academy, 25331 Trowbridge, Dearborn, is an event worth the brief road trip. For $55, you get to enjoy live glassblowing demonstrations, food from local restaurants and vendors, and beers from several Michigan breweries, including Short's, Motor City Brewing Works, Dragonmead and Kuhnhenn. Also included in the ticket price is a unique, artsy, hand-crafted drinking vessel from Furnace Design Studio. Call 313-561-4527 to order tickets, or buy online.
Notes on the Napkin
- Wolverine's beer-garden-in-a-parking-lot should finally just about be up and running, maybe, kinda, sorta, hopefully this weekend, or really, really close to it. Final bureaucratic approval has been given, with the formality of one more inspection from the deputy assistant commissioner of who-knows-what now standing in the way of drinking beer outside the premises of 2019 W. Stadium.
- Don't miss the return of two awesome beers to the taps of Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery: Luciernaga, a great summer seasonal "Grand Cru" style beer brewed with coriander and grains of paradise, and Oro de Calabaza, the Belgian golden ale beloved by the beer drinkers at the New York Times (and this guy!).
- Beer is 90 percent water, and guess where the water for all our awesome local beers comes from? If you said the Huron River, go to the head of the class! To highlight this fun fact, as well as help the Huron River Watershed Council in its work to protect our local water source, it's Brew for the River, a series of special beer events at local breweries taking place each Thursday beginning Aug. 11 and continuing through Sept. 8. Participating joints include Wolverine (Aug. 11), Jolly Pumpkin (Aug. 18), Grizzly Peak (Aug. 25), Arbor Brewing (Sept. 1) and Blue Tractor (Sept. 8). Check the council's website for more details.
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.