The Week in Beer: Shop local, drink local, and be of good cheer
David Bardallis | Contributor
Friday, Nov. 30
>> ’Tis the season for giving, and Wolverine State Brewing, 2019 W. Stadium, is kicking things off with a fundraiser for BLOOM Africa, a nonprofit to help orphans in one of the world’s smallest countries, Lesotho. (Yes, this place exists; this isn’t another example of the Human Fund.) Meet folks from the organization from 4-8 p.m., drink beer with them, and, if the spirit moves you, help them fill the donation jar. Find out more about the group and their mission at bloomafrica.org. And if you’re too heartless to help African orphans, consider donating a coat to the Charles Reinhart Coat Drive, a collection box for which is by the door in the Wolverine tap room.
>> Oh, Michigan beer happy hour at Whole Foods Cranbrook, how we have missed thee. Get ready to do some “grocery shopping” from 5-7 p.m. at 990 W. Eisenhower as Jimmy Alcumbrack-McDaniel returns to his old stomping grounds to start things up again with a New Holland Brewing event, 5-7 p.m. On tap will be Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Aged Ale, Hopivore Harvest Ale, Mad Hatter IPA, Cabin Fever Brown Ale, Imperial Hatter IPA, Full Circle Kolsch, and The Poet Stout. And for the coup de grace: Dragon’s Milk gelato will be available for tasting, too. Hear me now and believe me later, if you miss this, you are a big dummy.
>> Ann Arbor has a north side. I know! But trust me, it’s there. And in that north side, quietly hidden in the rear end of a strip mall, is The Wine Seller, 2721 Plymouth, a beer store with a great selection and also — free beer tastings! Stroll in tonight for samples of Arbor Brewing beers from 5-8 p.m., and, while you’re there, browse the shelves for some great gift ideas for yourself, er, your friends and family.
>> While you are out and about for Downtown Ann Arbor’s Midnight Madness extravaganza, be sure to head over to Kerrytown, where the Fourth Annual KindleFest runs from 6-10 p.m. The Farmers Market will be full of local merchants and artisans selling crafts, goods, and other assorted wares as shoppers and revelers enjoy music, fire pits, roasted s’mores and chestnuts, and, most importantly, local beer and even some mulled wine. And for you winos, Everyday Wines will be conducting a wine tasting from 7-9 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 1
>> Tickets go on sale today for the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival in Grand Rapids Feb. 23. Pick them up at your favorite local member establishment, and if you plan on going, don’t dawdle: This sucker has sold out far in advance the past couple years. You can also buy online at michiganbrewersguild.org.
>> It’s the last weekend for Bill’s Beer Garden, 218 S. Ashley, which will be closing up the lot for the season, returning next March for St. Patrick’s Day. But today is a special day, for it is the day that Bill’s is offering $1 off all beers (and other drinks) from 5-11 p.m. And that’s not all: $1 from every drink sold will go to support the Interfaith Hospitality Network at Alpha House, a nonprofit that provides shelter to homeless families here in Washtenaw County. I’m telling you, drinking beer is just the best way to help others. You should do more of it.
>> Witch’s Hat Brewing, 22235 Pontiac Trail, South Lyon, is growing again, but they need your help! Beginning today, 50 lifetime Mug Club memberships are going on sale for $250 apiece (or, if you’re a current Mug Clubber, $50 off a lifetime membership). If they sell all of these memberships, owners Erin and Ryan Cottongim will raise enough dough to add another seven-barrel tank, increasing their production to more than 100 barrels a year. Okay, it’s not homeless African orphans in need of coats, but more beer is still a pretty cause, and you may as well admit you didn’t know what to get for that beer-guzzling someone special in your life — until just now.
Sunday, Dec. 2
>> It’s Sunday, and you can’t bear to watch another Detroit Lions game (who but masochists could?). No worries. Head over to the Wolverine tap room sometime between 2 and 9 p.m. and check out the Ann Arbor Indie Fair, a celebration of local arts, crafts, gifts, and music. Oh, and don’t forget, beer. Exhibitors include ACME Mercantile, Car City Couture, Fancy Pants Arts, Kyle Raetz Illustrations, Retro-a-Go-Go, Tope’s Tiki Hut, and more. It’s totally hip, Daddy-O. Did I mention beer?
Monday, Dec. 3
>> Every Monday night at Red Rock Downtown Barbecue, 207 W. Michigan, Ypsilanti, is Beer Enthusiasts Night, featuring something new, rare, and/or special on tap beginning at 6 p.m. Tonight it’s beers from Brewery Vivant, including Farm Hand Farmhouse Ale, Triomphe IPA, Solitude Abbey Ale, and Kludde Strong Dark Ale. So drink some great Michigan beer with your barbecue, or if you’re a night owl, drop by at 10 p.m. and have a few jars when late night happy hour begins.
Tuesday, Dec. 4
>> Today is the last day of the big holiday sale at Corner Brewery, 720 Norris, Ypsilanti. In addition to deals and savings on most merchandise, Mug Club memberships are $75 (normally $100) and lifetime memberships are $400 (normally $500). If you're a current Mug Club member, from 3-7 p.m. only, you can renew your annual membership for just $50. (This will be retroactive with your renewal date, meaning if you just renewed, you can renew for the next year at a discounted rate.)
>> Hey, Dark Horse Nation, Ann Arbor chapter! It may be a bit of a hike down I-94 to Marshall, but no need to make that trip. Dark Horse is bringing a baker’s dozen of their quirky but awesome brews to Ashley’s, 338 S. State, beginning at 6 p.m. On tap: Thirsty Trout Porter, Scotty Karate Scotch Ale, Crooked Tree IPA, Sapient Trip Ale, Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead the Fifth Imperial Stout, and plenty more. See the full list here.
>> The last Brewer’s Night of 2012 is upon us! Don your Santa hat, reindeer horns or other gay apparel and get thee to the Grizzly Peak Den, 120 W. Washington, betwixt 6 and 9 p.m. for merrymaking including brewery tours, beer specials, and a cask of Burton-Brussels Express (aka wood-aged and dry-hopped Sheerwater IPA). Ho, ho, ho.
>> Down the street at Arbor Brewing, 114 E. Washington, it’s another Essential Listening Party with Rob Reinhart from 7:15 to 9:15 p.m. Submit song ideas to Rob ahead of time here, then come out, groove to his playlist, and schmooze with other music lovers while you drink good beer. There’s also live music, too, as the Supernova Jazz Combo takes the stage, such as it is, and rocks your face off. Or jazzes your face off, as the case may be. Anyway, it’ll be cool.
Wednesday, Dec. 5
>> The first Witch’s Hat beer dinner happens today, featuring a four-course pairing with WH beers and meads with food from Katherine’s Catering. (To go, you need to have reserved before Friday, Nov. 30, so if you’re reading this before then, call 248-486-2595 to get a seat before they’re gone.) Cost is $40; go here to see the menu.
Notes on the Napkin
- Here at the All the Brews, we often talk up local brewers and beers. On tap now at Liberty Street Brewing, 149 W. Liberty, Plymouth is a beer that is about as local as you can get: Barber’s Garden IPA, brewed with hops harvested from — wait for it — the garden behind the barber shop next to the brewery. Get it while it’s fresh and available, since there’s only enough hops for one batch of this beer each year.
- At Grizzly Peak, Pure Michigan IPA is currently pouring at the main (not Den) bar. It’s brewed with 100 percent Michigan-grown malt and hops, including Chinook, Cascade, and Brewer’s Gold varietals. For those who want stats: 5.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) and 70 IBU (bitterness scale). It’s good and another indicator that Michigan beer-related agriculture’s future is so bright, we gotta wear shades.
- Your correspondent has yet to try it, but Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery also just tapped a new rotating brew, Sweetwaters Vanilla Java Stout, a 6 percent ABV ale brewed with Sweetwaters coffee and vanilla beans.
- Further north, Witch’s Hat just put on There Gose the Neighborhood, a collaboration brew with with Kentucky's Country Boy Brewing. It's a slightly sour wheat ale based on the obscure "gose" style developed in Leipzig, Germany, and brewed with cherries, salt, coriander and ginger. Growler fills are available, too.
- Gift buying time! I’ll let Wolverine’s Beer Wench speak for herself here: “Stuck, stymied and otherwise at a loss for what to get the CRAFT BEER LOVER in your life? Look no more: Buy a 6-pack of our Wolverine Winter Lager AND a gift ticket for a 4-pack of MASSACRE, the bourbon barrel aged Imperial Dark Lager for just $25. Bam. Shopping done.”
- And some say it’s better to give than receive. I say why not do both? This year Blue Tractor, Jolly Pumpkin, and Grizzly Peak are again offering their gift card promotion: Buy a $50 gift card and get $75 worth of coupons to use in 2013. See details here: Blue Tractor | Jolly Pumpkin | Grizzly Peak.
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.