ANN ARBOR — Not your typical bottle shop, the Whole Foods Market Cranbrook location’s beer department offers a wide range of bottles sourced from Michigan to Belgium and beyond. You’ll find their vast stock in cold storage spread out over three different sections of the store.
Katy Jensen, beer specialist, is in charge of buying for the store’s inventory, including all selections on tap at the in-store beer and wine bar, and for customer keg orders. She has assembled one of the area’s largest single bottle selections for mixed six packs. Those can be found between the produce area and the seafood counter.
The large cooler section at the back of the store holds all packaged beers from four packs to cases. Large format bottles are found near the bar along with a portion of the store’s pre-packaged cheeses.
Looking for that next limited release beer? “[They’re sold at] first come first served — we do not do lists, we just want everyone to get a shot at it,” said Jensen.
“Not even all of our team members are able to buy them.”
A discount of 10% off is applied to any bottle purchase that totals six units, including large format and multiples of four or six pack bottles and cans.
Customers can purchase beer and wine by the glass at the bar for consumption anywhere within the store. The staff prides themselves on their knowledge — each team member is capable of helping a customer choose.
Happy Hour runs every day from 4-7 p.m., giving customers $1 off each glass of beer poured from the taps.
Grab lunch from the diner and have a seat, or walk around with your beverage as you shop. Artisanal cheese plates are offered at the bar as well. If you prefer to drink a brew available only in bottles, you may bring one to the bar to be opened and served for a minor corkage fee.
Growler fills are available for $12 to $40 depending on the beer, with the store offering empty glass jugs for $4 a piece. This is an especially popular option when the bar hosts it’s semi-monthly tap takeover events.
Sampling happens often in the store during special tasting events. Depending on the price, a staff member may also be able to open a bottle for a customer who wants a free taste of something not available by the glass at the bar.
Happy Hour pricing and information on tasting events can be found on the department’s Facebook page.
And for those who might not be up for a glass of beer, the store offers a vast wine menu.
“We try to keep per glass prices low to help in exposing people to new things, grapes they may never have had,” said Whisper Smith, wine specialist.