DETROIT — On Oct. 17, eateries and watering holes throughout the Motor City embarked on an 11-day celebration of Michigan craft beer as part of Detroit Beer Week.
Festivities, including food and drink specials, tap-takeovers, special menus and more, all led up to the main event — the weekend’s Detroit Fall Beer Festival.
One of this year’s highlights was Thursday’s four-course beer pairing dinner celebrating Arbor Brewing Company India, held at Woodbridge Pub.
ABC India is one of the latest projects from husband and wife team Matt and Rene Greff, who own Arbor Brewing Company in Ann Arbor and Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti.
In 2009, University of Michigan graduate Gaurav Sikka approached the Greffs about the possibility of bringing ABC’s craft beer back to his hometown of Bangalore, India. After visiting India for research, the couple entered into a joint venture with Gaurav, and helped create India’s first American craft brewery, ABC India, which opened to the public in 2012.
Although ABC India serves American pub food, the beer dinner at Woodbridge featured Indian-inspired vegetarian dishes, each paired with one of ABC’s popular beers. The Greffs were also on hand at the event to talk about their breweries and discuss some of the items on the menu.
Course One: Manchurian Cauliflower and Bollywood Blonde
Based on the popular Indo-Chinese dish Gobi Manchurian, the first course was a fried cauliflower appetizer tossed in a spicy Manchurian sauce and garnished with green onion.
“I fell in love with Gobi Manchurian on our first trip to India,” said Matt Greff. “[Woodbridge Pub] did an absolutely incredible job.”
Its seasoning complemented the Bollywood Blonde, which is spiced with orange peel and coriander. The beer was also a fitting homage in both name and flavor to ABC India.
Course Two: Asian Crunch Salad with Violin Monster
The second course was a crispy cabbage and noodle salad with arugula, bell peppers and apple slices in a beer dressing.
The salad was light and refreshing, while the beer was a little more complex.
Weighing in at 9.5% ABV, Violin Monster is a strong dark, spiced ale brewed with Midnight Wheat and a hint of brown sugar.
“We did four pilot batches and it just blew our expectations out of the water,” said Matt Greff.
Greff explained that the Violin Monster is named after an Ann Arbor street performer who plays the violin while wearing a werewolf mask. The performer, who collaborated with ABC on the beer, wanted to create something that personified duality, horror and romance among other concepts.
The beer was an immediate success upon release this fall, and the Greffs had to bring some of their own stash to share with Woodbridge patrons for the dinner.
“It sold out two months faster than we thought it would,” said Matt Greff.
Course Three: Breaded Paneer Marinara with Ypsi Gypsi Pale Ale
The main course of the evening was seasoned paneer cheese with a light Bayou breading, fried and served over Spanish rice topped with marinara sauce. Ypsi Gypsi — a light, citrusy American pale ale — paired well with the rich creaminess of the cheese.
Course Four: Curried Black Rice Pudding and Espresso Love Breakfast Stout
The final dish of the night was a light, mildly sweet black rice pudding that was perfectly paired with ABC’s full-bodied Espresso Love Breakfast Stout. The beer is brewed with 100 percent fair-trade coffee from the Ugly Mug Café and Roastery in Ypsilanti.
With a rich coffee flavor and hints of chocolate, it was a great ending to a very well-executed meal.