The Week in Beer: A guide to recognizing your saints
David Bardallis | Contributor
As we speed toward the official beginning of spring, the local beer scene continues to heat up as well. To take the most obvious example, everyone’s favorite beer-drinking holiday is right around the corner, and your Week in Beer has some ideas for you to make the most of it — so read on, MacDuff!
Thursday, March 10
Â» Irish stouts, milk stouts, chocolate stouts, coffee stouts, Russian imperial stouts, smoked stouts — all of these and more will be at Arbor Brewing’s stout tasting from 7-9 p.m. Tickets are $30 and include samples from more than two dozen yummy beers, an appetizer buffet and multiple chances to win groovy door prizes. Call 734-213-1393 for availability and to order.
Â» The 16th annual Irishfest continues at Grizzly Peak, 120 W. Washington. Through March 20, enjoy a menu of Irish-inspired favorites including Shepherd’s Pie, Beer Braised Corned Beef Brisket, Bangers and Mash, and wash it down with an Amarillo Shamrock Ale or other Grizzly beer in a $5 limited-edition Irishfest pint glass. Then bring the glass back any time through March 20 and get it refilled for $3. Slainte!
Saturday, March 12
Â» Conor O’Neill’s, 318 S. Main, can't wait for the official day, so they're throwing a St. Practice Day Party beginning at 11 a.m. with live music from The Diggers and Fonn Mor as well as Irish dancers and bagpipers, food and drink specials, and prizes and giveaways all day long. Remember: Practice makes perfect.
Â» Some people need more practice than others, so if you're in that camp, then you'll also want to head over to Whole Foods Cranbrook, 990 W. Eisenhower, where from 2-6 p.m. you can sample some St. Patrick's Day favorites throughout the store, including some Irish ales and stouts at the Wine and Beer Bar.
Thursday, March 17 - St. Patrick’s Day
Â» As they do every year, Ashley's, 338 S. State, will open at 6:30 a.m. to accommodate the thirsty (and hungry) St. Patrick’s Day masses. $10 cover gets you breakfast and a 2011 St. Paddy’s Day t-shirt. Drink specials include $3 Jell-O shots and green Labatt’s, if you’re a Philistine, or $4 pints of Guinness and $5 Irish car bombs, if you’re more cultured and dignified. Also look for Irish food specials throughout the day and other great Michigan beers like Arcadia Brigid’s Irish Red Ale and Arbor Brewing Michael Faricy’s Irish Stout.
Â» Conor O’Neill’s opens at 7 a.m. and proceeds the way they did for St. Practice Day. The usual suspects will be pouring all day: Harp, Smithwick's, and plenty of that Guinness stuff Irish people seem to like to drink!
Â» Arbor Brewing also opens at 7 a.m. with a Top o’ the Morning Party until 11 a.m., which includes a breakfast buffet and happy hour prices. Happy hour returns from 4-7 p.m. and includes live music from Rootstand. All day long five Arbor stouts will be pouring: Michael Faricy, Blackheath Sweet Stout, Espresso Love Breakfast Stout, St. Patrick’s Strong Stout, and Steamroller Russian Imperial Stout. Guest bottles, left over from last week’s stout tasting, will also be available — ask a server for a list. For those inclined toward something heavier, Irish Car Bombs will also be featured, as well as Love Bombs (Bailey’s Irish Cream and Three Olives Espresso Vodka dropped in Espresso Love). No cover.
Â» It’s pretty much the same story over at the Corner Brewery, 720 Norris, Ypsilanti, with the 7-11 a.m. Top o’ the Morning Party featuring an all-you-can-eat continental breakfast. Several small-batch brews will be pouring, and Rootstand will rock beginning at 9 p.m. The beer garden also will be open, weather permitting. No cover (or car bombs, sadly).
Â» Depot Town’s Sidetrack Bar & Grill, 56. E. Cross, Ypsilanti, also opens early, with drink and food specials, live music, St. Pat’s merchandise and, if you make it that far, a free raffle of cool swag at midnight. No cover here, either!
Â» Wolverine State Brewing, 2019 W. Stadium, opens at 9 a.m. with Holiday’s Restaurant peeps serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner (or you can order in, as always) and Wolverine’s trained staff of beer professionals pouring brew specials to thirsty revelers. At 2 p.m., the contests begin, including “Best Leprechaun” and the “Beer Stein Holding Contest Iron Man (or Woman)” competition. The Bob Skon trio rocks the rafters at 7 p.m. and, most importantly, two new beers will be released: World’s End English IPA and Teenage Mutant Ninja Porter. What are those like? Come in and find out! Cover charge? No way, JosÃ© — er, Sean!
Â» Down in Milan, Original Gravity, 440 County, opens at 11 a.m. and will be serving up homemade beer braised beef stew until it’s gone and pouring three new small-batch stouts, including an oatmeal stout on the rotating nitro tap. Happy hour prices until 6 p.m., with plenty of fun and merry-making for all.
Notes on the Napkin
- Beers coming soon to Grizzly Peak include Yorkshire Angel, a Northern English-style pale ale brewed with oat malt and East Kent Goldings hops; Little Giant Lager, a relatively mild brew with a surplus of clean malt and hop character; and Hop Happy Monk, a Grizzly take on Trappist-style ales featuring lots of European-style hops blended with pilsner malt, wheat, and sugar.
- The Corner Brewery is hoping to finally clear all of the silly roadblocks imposed by the city of Ypsilanti and begin expanding the brewery, according to this piece by AnnArbor.com's Paula Gardner. Here's hoping the bureaucrats can figure out that more business in their city is a good thing.
- Congratulations to Wolverine for winning AnnArbor.com’s Best Brewery contest last week. The relative newcomers edged out mainstay favorite Arbor Brewing by 11 votes, while Jolly Pumpkin CafÃ© & Brewery, 311 S. Main, came in third. All of these establishments, as well as the five others on the ballot, are worthy of your support, so keep ordering those pints to stimulate the local beer economy!
- Shaving for a cure? Join Greg Lobdell, co-owner of Grizzly Peak, Blue Tractor, and many other fine local establishments, as he goes bald to help kids with cancer. The Tractor is hosting a fundraiser on March 19 beginning at 4:30 p.m. for St. Baldrick's Foundation, a charity that funds research into childhood cancer. For more information and to support Greg's close shave, go here.
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.