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Posted on Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

Vegan menu now available at Arbor Brewing Co.

By Jessica Webster


The new vegan menu at Arbor Brewing Company.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Gone are the days when vegans dreaded dining out. No longer are they resigned to ordering the house salad, picking off stray bits of bacon or shredded cheese before hesitantly taking a bite.

Now Ann Arbor is bursting with vegetarian (Seva, Earthen Jar, Hut-K Chaats) and vegan (The Lunch Room, Jazzy Veggie) restaurants, and many more are adding options to their previously carnivore-heavy fare.

Arbor Brewing Co. (114 E. Washington St.) has long made it a practice to accommodate diners with food restrictions, indicating vegetarian and gluten-free choices on its menus. But until recently, other than the brewpub's beers (which are all made without any animal products), vegans were left ordering modified versions of regular menu items.

"We saw that there were things on our menu that we could modify — no cheese or whatever — to make them vegan," explained executive chef Nicole Young. "But there were not a lot of things that were vegan to begin with."

Chef Young decided that the time was right to launch a separate, totally vegan, menu. Some of the dishes featured are regular menu items, adapted to be vegan-friendly. But others, like the quinoa-stuffed squash, were created specifically with vegan customers in mind.

"We have always tried to cater to a wider variety of dietary needs, so it wasn't a huge stretch for us," said Young. "It was just a matter of implementing it."

Young worked up the recipes, testing them out first on friends and family, then offering tastings for the staff, before rolling the menu out for the general public.

Young says that the feedback has been almost universally positive since she introduced the vegan menu in the fall. The most popular items have been traditional pub fare such as the "build your own burger" and the vegan nachos, but rotating seasonal soups and specials have also been a hit.

Me? I'm itching to try the beer-battered tempeh sandwich, described in all-caps glory by the food blog "Vegan Like A Boss" as mouth-wateringly life-changing. Sounds good to me!

Jessica Webster leads the Food & Grocery section for Reach her at You also can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Sat, Mar 30, 2013 : 1:34 a.m.

The Espresso Love, when in season and on tap, is one of my favorite beers ever! Vegan here, and appreciate the vegan choices! Vegans are passionate about food, and will support vegan and vegan-friendly establishments with purchases and good reviews when the quality is there!


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 6:57 p.m.

I read this ( right before this article. It's funny because it's true!

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

I'm not sure why some people on here think it's a bad idea that a restaurant would offer more sustainable food choices for diners who want to go the extra step for their health, the environment and animal wellbeing. If you still want to order their meat and dairy menu items, no one's stopping you. They're just also accommodating us vegans in a serious way now, and we appreciate it.

Jessica Webster

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 6:46 p.m.

Still lots of animals available on the menu. We're just reporting that there are more animal-free options now as well.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 6:23 p.m.

Animals taste good.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

Hopefully their vegan menu will be palatable. The worst meals I have eaten in Ann Arbor were at Arbor Brewing. It is on par with dorm food.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 8:27 p.m.

arborbrewingco - the culinary straw that broke the camel's back was your seafood chowder. It consisted of a cream base with canned salmon and heaps of dill. I still cringe when I think about it. You can't please every palate. Unfortunately, you have never piqued mine. Which is why a variety of culinary establishments best serves the dining public.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 9:36 p.m.

Oh no, I'm so sorry to hear that! What were the meals that you've tried with us?

Silly Sally

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

I wish they would bring back their Shepard's Pie, and ALWAYS have their "red snapper" beer available!


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

Unfortunately, Arbor Brewing just "jumped the shark."

Jessica Webster

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

Their regular menu remains intact; this is just an addition. Hardly brings post-Richie Cunningham Happy Days to me.

Proleptically Living

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

Thank you for this article, Jessica! And thank you Ryan Stanton for your current and past comments on vegan fare around Ann Arbor. I lead a vegan dinner group in town and we will definitely be making a visit to ABC soon. It never hurts to have vegan options on a menu (just like kosher, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc.) because it opens up a larger customer base. I hope other non-veg restaurants follow ABC's lead in offering a vegan menu. Where else in Michigan would you see something like this happening? I love Ann Arbor.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 3:30 a.m.

Too bad their beer still tastes god-awful. It was good back in the day when Doug was the brewer, but their stuff is headache inducing swill now.


Sat, Mar 30, 2013 : 1:33 a.m.

The Espresso Love, when in season and on tap, is one of my favorite beers ever! Vegan here, and appreciate the vegan choices! Vegans are passionate about food, and will support vegan and vegan-friendly establishments with purchases and good reviews when the quality is there!


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 9:35 p.m.

Oh that's too bad you feel that way! We've come a long way in our brewing and while we miss Doug too, we are really excited about the direction we've gone in and all the new beers on the production schedule.

Jessica Webster

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

Oh silly me. I meant Sacred Cow. (I'm the Brasserie Blonde fan.)


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 4 p.m.

Jessice, two hearted is from Bell's, not ABC. ABC doesn't make very good IPA's, I have to agree with Goofus. The only good thing I've tried there this year was the espresso love stout.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 5:16 a.m.

I'm with you, Goofus. ABC is the only place I've ever actually sent a beer back because the quality was so bad. For the record, it was their Bavarian Bliss. The minister-president of Bavaria should demand they change the name of it. Hefeweizen are among my favorites, and there are way too many good ones out there to drink this crap. And there's way better beer to be had in this town in general. Haven't been to ABC in at least a couple years and don't plan to go back.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 4:38 a.m.

Amen to the Brasserie Blonde, Jessica!

Jessica Webster

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 3:53 a.m.

We're big fans of the Two Hearted IPA and the Brasserie Blonde at our house.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 11:40 p.m.

And they can keep it! Ugh!

Jessica Webster

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 3:54 a.m.

Not a big fan of vegan options?


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 11:05 p.m.

I'm a vegan, and I'm better than you.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

^ ^ One of the few who's willing to admit it. ^ ^


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 5:24 a.m.

Ethically speeking, we are better.

Jessica Webster

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

Even omnivores like me enjoy a meatless meal now and then.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 10:16 p.m.

"Ann Arbor is bursting with vegetarian (Seva, Earthen Jar, Hut-K Chaats) and vegan (The Lunch Room, Jazzy Veggie) restaurants..." 3 vegetarian and 2 vegan restaurants (one, which isn't even open year around) is hardly "bursting". As a vegan, I've been onto ABC's secret for sometime now and have loved watching the evolution of their menu over the past few years, catering more and more to vegan customers. They have the best brewed beers in town already, which is reason enough to go there, but add this menu "upgrade"...they will have my business for a loooooong time! A big "THANK YOU" from the vegan community! We need more places like this!!!


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 8:43 p.m.

I do NOT like Jolly Pumpkin beer. I think they smell like sewage. I am a big fan of ABC beers...but everyone's taste is subjective. I also never go to Grizzly Peak because they don't have vegan friendly foods...


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.

Jolly Pumpkin definitely has the best beer in town.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

agree with everything you say except for the beer part--they definitely don't have the best beers in town. Their IPA is just sad. Even blue tractor and grizzly peak are better, plus wolverine and jolly pumpkin.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 11:18 a.m.

It specifies "vegetarian and vegan restaurants". I know that I can go other places and get vegan and vegetarian foods...but this statement specifies vegetarian and vegan only. Chicago, L.A., San Francisco, New York City...THESE places are BURSTING with vegan and vegetarian fare....

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 12:41 a.m.

There are about two dozen restaurants in Ann Arbor where I know I can go and get a good vegan meal, and most of them are a two- or three-block walk from where I live and work. I haven't yet found a city that can beat that.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 12:10 a.m.

Look around the state and tell me any other cities that have the scope and breadth of vegan and veggie food that A2 does. I would call FIVE places (plus MANY others that aren't on that list that do not mention it) bursting compared to the rest of the world.

Jessica Webster

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 10:38 p.m.

I do get a little carried away with my enthusiastic word choices sometimes, it's true. We're hoping for good news about a year-round home for The Lunch Room soon, for what it's worth!

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 10:03 p.m.

As a vegan, I'm super excited about this. ABC will be getting a lot more of my business now. I've already gone twice in the last week since I found this out. So far I can vouch for the quinoa stuffed squash and the nachos -- looking forward to trying more :) I'm also impressed with the new NeoPapalis Pizza downtown - they make a pretty decent vegan pizza at a very affordable price. There are a lot of other restaurants out there that need to take ABC's lead and start making it easier for the growing number of vegans to patronize their businesses. Being assured in writing on the menu that certain items don't have any animal products in them (without having to ask 20 questions of a worker who might not know every ingredient in every dish) goes a long way toward getting our business.


Sat, Mar 30, 2013 : 1:26 a.m.

Ryan, is the vegan pizza on the menu at NeoPapalis? I read in an article here that they were going to offer vegan cheese, but I didn't see it as an option on the online menu or when I looked at the store menu. I agree about the being assured in writing part! (I am vegan as well and am so excited about the growing options in A2)


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 10:09 p.m.

Ryan, Thanks for the info on NeoPapalis. We have eatng Silvios and Whole Foods pizza and love them, but trying a new place is always fun


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 9:14 p.m.

I think that's wonderful! I'll look forward to a visit in the near future!

Ricardo Queso

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 9:07 p.m.

Arbor Brewing needs a thorough cleaning. The place smells like stale beer and mildew. I wouldn't dare eat anything there.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 9:32 p.m.

Oh no, I'm so sorry you feel that way! We clean daily and have weekly deep-cleanings, so no worries there. When we are constantly brewing beer, there is always a very distinct aroma - but that's the yeast and brewing process.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 8:24 p.m.

Interesting! I wonder if more Ann Arbor restaurants will make a move in this direction.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 8:24 p.m.

Is the vegan menu available online? I saw a few posts on their Facebook but not the actual menu.

Jessica Webster

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 9:58 p.m.

It doesn't appear on their website yet.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

Well,they just gained another customer. I wonder if any of the happy-hour items are vegan?


Sat, Mar 30, 2013 : 1:21 a.m.

Maybe some will be added if we ask. Highline in Seattle ( sets a great standard. :)

Jessica Webster

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 10:07 p.m.

I just called over and confirmed that there are no vegan items on the happy hour menu at the current time. Other than the beer, of course. :)