Over the next three weeks, we’ll be previewing David Bardallis‘ upcoming book, “Ann Arbor Beer: A Hoppy History of Tree Town Brewing.” Below is the book’s foreword, written by Rene and Matt Greff of Arbor Brewing Company and the Corner Brewery. The book is slated to be released Aug. 27. To pre-order David’s book, please visit Amazon.com.
If you’ve ever bellied up to the bar and tipped back a pint at a local brewery, then you know there’s something special about drinking a brew right from the source. And it’s more than simply quality and freshness. There’s a satisfying sense of interconnectedness — a sort of Old World charm — that comes from running into your local brewer around the neighborhood or having him or her step out of the brewery to shake your hand and ask you what you’re drinking. Somehow the beer just tastes better when you know the people who brewed it.
Like most Americans over forty, we grew up drinking faceless, mass-produced beer that was completely disconnected from the men who made it. We first discovered fresh, local beer and pubs in Europe during separate study-abroad semesters in college and then, later, together on our honeymoon in 1991. Matt started homebrewing in 1992 and quickly found that he enjoyed making beer a lot more than working as a database analyst. By 1993, the Michigan legislature cleared the way for brewpubs to open, and we began dreaming of our own brewery.
When we opened the Arbor Brewing Company in downtown Ann Arbor in the summer of 1995, we never could have imagined what lay in store for our brewery or our nascent industry. At the time, we were the only brewpub in Washtenaw County, and one of only 10 craft breweries in Michigan. Fast-forward to 2013, and we find ourselves gloriously awash in craft beer, with 125 breweries in operation across the state — 11 right here in our own backyard!
As pioneers in a dynamic, rapidly changing industry, we’ve had the opportunity to play our small part in the history of brewing in Ann Arbor. In addition to being the first brewpub in Washtenaw, we were also the state’s first solar brewery, the first to produce barrel-aged sour beers and the first brewpub to open a packaging brewery, and in 2012, we became the first American craft brewery on the Asian subcontinent with the opening of our Arbor Brewing Company India location in Bangalore.
Even as our industry has evolved and grown over the past decades, there are some constants that predate the post-1980s craft renaissance and stretch into the past to pre-prohibition America, as well as even farther back to our distant ancestors from faraway lands. Local breweries have always been about connections—between pub staff and customers, brewers and beer lovers and patrons whiling away the hours celebrating, mourning, telling stories and plotting revolutions large and small.
So, like any great historical tale, the history of brewing in Ann Arbor needs to be much more than mere dates, facts and figures. This story can be told only by someone who is both beer lover and drinker, journalist and historian, philosopher and social critic. There’s no one better equipped for the job than Dave Bardallis, who combines a passion for the truth with the heart of a hometown boy — and an insatiable thirst for local beer.
We’re proud to say that we knew Dave before he was “the Ann Arbor beer guy,” although neither of us can remember exactly when we first met him. He’s one of those people who just seemed like he’d always been a regular. Then, at some point, we slipped across the blurry line into friendship without any of us really noticing it (blurry lines can be an occupational hazard). Given our shared love of the flavors, history and tradition of beer; our hometown; and lively debate, our friendship was probably inevitable.
Anyone who has had the pleasure of reading Dave’s beer writing can attest to his sense of humor, his gift for storytelling and his tell-it-like-it-is approach to reporting. But those of us in the industry who have had the opportunity to work with Dave can also attest to his honesty and integrity. He is simply a man who loves to drink and write and learn, and his humble and open approach to covering the craft beer business has made him one of the most well-known and widely respected craft beer correspondents in Michigan.
So, know that you are in good hands as you embark on this fascinating journey of discovery into a local history of brewing that crosses its own blurry lines into music, politics, poetry, science, medicine and even the paranormal. Pull up a pint and enjoy the ride!
Rene and Matt Greff, Founders and Owners
Arbor Brewing Company
Arbor Brewing Company India