The Week in Beer: Celebrate Fat Tuesday with some good brew
David Bardallis | Contributor
It's Mardi Gras time, y'all, or as we say around these parts, Paczki Day. Nothing says Fat Tuesday like globs of jelly-filled dough and good beer, and there are, of course, opportunities to indulge in both around town. Not Catholic — or even religious at all? I wouldn’t let that spoil the party, but if Christian-related observances aren't your bag, there’s a lot of other awesome going on in your Week in Beer, so no more excuses, Mr. or Ms. Couch Potato.
Thursday, Feb. 16
>> The Belgian Beer Festival continues at Ashley's Westland, 7525 Wayne Road, with a special 7 p.m. (not 9 p.m. as originally stated) national release of Poperings Hommel Bier Dark, a new variation of Brouwerij Van Eecke’s justly famous Belgian IPA ("hommel" is the locals' word for "hops"). Be the first on your block, or anywhere, including Belgium, to try this beer, and then rush home to your computer, log on to the Internet and make all the other beer dorks jealous with your detailed review!
Friday, Feb. 17
>> The post-Jimmy era begins at Whole Foods Cranbrook, 990 W. Eisenhower, with a happy hour featuring the great beers of Battle Creek's own Arcadia Ales. Come out to the Wine and Beer Bar from 5-7 p.m. and see how the big boys (and girls) do grocery shopping. The usual rules apply: $3 for glasses, $1 for sample pours and various prices on bottles.
>> Back at the Belgian Fest, Danny Dieussaert of Brouwerij Van Eecke has just flown in from Watou, Belgium, and boy, are his arms tired! But his voice will be in top form as he hosts an educational 7 p.m. five-course beer dinner featuring such Van Eecke beers as Poperings Hommel Bier IPA, Kapittel Blond Pale Ale, Kapittel Prior Strong Dark Ale, and Kapittel Abt Tripel Ale paired with Belgian cheeses, salmon, lamb chops, and other yumminess. Cost is $75 per person. See the menu and order form at abbf.ashleys.com.
Monday, Feb. 20
>> Hey, hey, hey! It's Faaaaaat Elvis! Come on out to Liberty Street Brewing, 149 W. Liberty, Plymouth, and have a good time at the 7 p.m. release of Fat Elvis, a peanut butter and banana porter inspired by the late Mr. Presley’s favorite gourmet dish. Mingle with creator "Rev." George Hotelling of the Sons of Liberty homebrew club and throw back a few in Liberty’s upper hall. But hurry; I'm told it will "leave the building" pretty fast. Thankyouverymuch.
Tuesday, Feb. 21
>> Celebrate Mardi Gras Arbor style with the annual release of Ragin' Cajun Red Ale, the official beer of Fat Tuesday, at least at Arbor Brewing, 114 E. Washington. Also look for special New Orleans-inspired menu items.
>> Laissez les bon temps roulez at Corner Brewery, 720 Norris, Ypsilanti, beginning at 7 p.m. Grab your beads and party mask for a Mardi Gras hootenanny featuring jambalaya, po' boys, Cajun salad, and the piece de resistance, Hurricane Beer. Yes, it's a beer based on that fruity, touristy concoction that any true New Orleanian rolls his eyes at. But we're in Ypsilanti, so it's cool. Dragon Wagon takes the stage at 8 p.m. to pump out some live bluegrass. No cover.
>> Can't make it down to the Big Easy for Mardi Gras? How about the next best thing? That would be a Fat Tuesday event at Ashley's, 338 S. State, featuring beers from the New Orleans-area Abita Brewing Co. including Andygator Doppelbock, Jockamo IPA, Mardi Gras Bock, Purple Haze Raspberry Wheat, and Turbodog Brown Ale. And, in a nod to local tradition, customers who order any draft beer (minimum $5) get a free paczek (that's singular for paczki, yo), while supplies last. Also look for special Mardi Gras-themed menu items as well as beads and other Abita swag giveaways.
Wednesday, Feb. 22
>> Beginning at 6 p.m., the post-Rat Fest celebration of small-batch homebrews continues at Corner Brewery, with leftover beers from the Motor City Mashers homebrew club being tapped, including the Best of Show beer, Gabi Palmer’s Rye Caraway Ale. Other Mashers beers include Jalapeno Brown Ale, Imperial Stout, Pecan Pie Brown Ale and Java Stout.
>> The Brewery Throwdown semifinals begin at 6 p.m. over at Ashley's in Westland. North meets West in a titanic clash between Short’s Brewing and Saugatuck Brewing. Who will win the epic battle of beer sales? Head over and cast your vote(s) by ordering your favorites.
Notes on the Napkin
- Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery, 207 E. Washington, is bigger and better than ever following its expansion into the space formerly occupied by Cafe Habana, which is scheduled to move to the Main Street space soon to be vacated by the Parthenon. Confused yet? Get straight by dropping in the newly remodeled bar for a brew, like the recently tapped Root Beer Rye Ale, brewed with rye, pale, and crystal malts and flavored with sarsaparilla, wintergreen and vanilla. Don't have time to hang out? Get a growler to go and take some barbecue to go with you, too, thanks to the Tractor's new take-out counter!
- Unfortunately, it's Plan B time. Arbor has canceled its bus to the Feb. 25 Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival in Grand Rapids due to not enough people signing up (you bastards). Refunds are available at the brewpub (or at Corner, if that's where you purchased). Anyone knowing of a cheap (can live with mice, but not cockroaches) hotel near the festival is encouraged to contact the author forthwith.
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.