north peak cans

 

(Dexter, Michigan) — North Peak Brewing Company is thrilled to announce the installation and commissioning of their first canning line.

“With our Up North motto and lifestyle, canning our beer was inevitable and the time has finally come,” North Peak CEO Tony Grant explains the brewery’s decision on changing their packaging, “Cans pair with a more active lifestyle of dynamic activity and leisure, whether you are biking, kayaking, fishing, golfing, or simply relaxing watching the sunset from a hammock.” This portable, more environmentally friendly packaging lends itself to the outdoor way of life represented throughout the North Peak brand.

North Peak is launching their new packaging with Hail and Sparta cans. Last year, North Peak released rivaled beers Hail Pale Ale and Sparta IPA, because the brewery itself is divided with University of Michigan and Michigan State University alum.

Hail Pale Ale is the perfect tailgate beer. This American Pale Ale is golden in color, light-bodied and delicious. It is dripping with hoppy goodness with notes of citrus, apricot, and peach. Hail is a well-balanced beer made with maize and blue to celebrate all things Michigan.

Sparta IPA is a bold IPA with a dank, assertive hop character. Its aggressive profile of Summit, Simcoe, Citra, Cascade and Amarillo hops give this IPA the hop character to make you shout “Go Green!” Well balanced with a malt backbone, it has flavor notes of tangerine, grapefruit, peach and apricot all backed with a hint of pine.

The release of these two beers in cans is sure to be the talk of the tailgate this upcoming football season. The brewery is releasing 6-packs of 12-ounce cans throughout the state of Michigan.

 

With literally thousands of beers to try from hundreds of breweries, time is a precious commodity at the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Fest. One gulp of Brewery Becker’s 15% Braggot and you might need a 15 minute breather by the riverside to sober up. Tick tock. Follow up with a healthy pour or two of KBS and that’s a wrap. Needless to say, the four hour window can hardly feel like enough to scratch the surface of Michigan’s amazing beer scene. I found a winning formula in seeking out unfamiliar brews, mingling, and simply taking in the sights.

summer beer fest

Hayley & Beer-tern Jack

One key observation: what a good looking group of drinkers. It’s clear the craft beer community has upgraded its sartorial sensibilities beyond those hosed hardhats you suck beer out of. I saw patterns galore, sick kicks, fanny packs too. The range of personal style reflects a culture as diverse as its beer selection. Still, in spite of our differences we can all unite behind a pretzel necklace, the greatest tongue-in-cheek alternative to a choker. Sense of humor should always precede fashion sense, and judging from all the smiles I saw Friday, craft beer still has its priorities straight. Here are a few of the friendly faces we met while patrolling the grounds.

 

 

 

Photography: Katie Raymond

atwater brewery

Detroit, Mich — Atwater Brewery, Detroit’s hometown brewer for 20 years, has grown from a small brew pub in Detroit’s historic rivertown district into one of Michigan’s largest brewers. And it’s targeting further growth in the state in 2018.

During 2017, Atwater added a host of new products to compliment its robust portfolio and meet growing customer demand. It also signed a new distribution agreement with M1 Network and completed its re-branding with renowned Detroit artist Tony Roko. “2017 was a year of transition for Atwater,” says Atwater owner Mark Rieth. “Our new distribution network alone should help us to expand our current markets, enter new markets and ultimately increase retail sales in Michigan by up to 30%.”

Rieth said 2018 will be a year of focus. “Our expanded reach and new packaging encourage us to concentrate our growth across Michigan, which has always been our home and our strongest market. We believe we’ll push our production capacity to its limits.” Rieth suggests that this time next year, Atwater will be producing at a 50,000 barrel annualized rate.

Atwater’s sales continue to be led by its popular Dirty Blond, Vanilla Java Porter, and Atwater Lager brands, but its brew masters are always innovating new styles as well. Atwater’s celebrated Christmas Ale is back this season and starting in 2018, Atwater will offer Vanilla Java varieties beginning with Bavarian Cream VJP in the first quarter followed by coconut, raspberry and hazelnut VJP coming throughout the year. Fans of Atwater small batch productions will learn about an exciting new barrel aged product in mid January.

The company’s largest brew facility remains on Joseph Campau in Detroit’s warehouse district where Atwater continues to build on its heritage of brewing world class German style lagers and innovative and fresh ales. Over the past twenty years, Atwater’s has expanded its portfolio to include 26 styles of beer and select seasonal flavors that are distributed to 21 states and three international markets.

Atwater will continue to scout new locations to expand its line of award-winning Taphouse and Biergarten projects. “We say that we’re ‘bringing Detroit everywhere,’ and our Taphouse and Biergarten venues have been an incredibly fun, successful way to do so. In 2018, we’ll be looking at new sites in Michigan and beyond to complement our existing venues in Detroit, Grosse Pointe and Grand Rapids,” says Rieth.

“We’re so grateful to our customers, partners and employees for helping Atwater grow and thrive for 20 years. It hasn’t been easy, and with wine and spirits now dipping into beer sales, it’s not getting any easier,” says Rieth. “But that’s our focus — staying the course, brewing our world-class lagers and other customer favorites from right here in Detroit, and distributing them conveniently throughout the state.”

 

About Atwater Brewery

Atwater Brewery. Born in Detroit. Raised Everywhere. Atwater offers 40 styles of beer led by its popular Purple Gang Pilsner, Better Life Choices IPA, Vanilla Java Porter, Dirty Blonde and its “World Beer Cup” award winning Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale. Atwater distributes its beer to 21 states plus select international markets and offers a proprietary line of craft spirits. Atwater operates three full-service tap house and biergarten locations in Detroit, Grosse Pointe and Grand Rapids.

 

baffin brewing

On one trip to Maine, brewer Evan Feringa found something that he had not seen in his home state of Michigan—a mug club that you had to drink into.

baffin brewery

Evan Feringa

“We had to drink out of regular pint glasses, and so the locals would make fun of us saying ‘look at the tourists’!” Feringa said.

You couldn’t buy their way into that mug club, nor could you pay a yearly membership to belong—you had to drink the beer to earn that mug.

“And it created this atmosphere that I hadn’t seen in any of the bars I’d visited at home. I told Joe (Dowd, a partner in Baffin Brewery) that if we ever opened a brewpub, we have to do this.”

And they did. Located in St. Clair Shores, Baffin Brewing has been serving mug club members, regulars, newbies and everyone in between since 2015. The mug club boasts over 400 members, most of whom had to drink their way in.

“You have to drink 150 beers—pints, growlers and flights all count as one. After every 20 beers, you get some sort of reward like a Baffin sticker, a t-shirt, a glass growler, and then after that 150th beer you get your own handmade 22-24 ounce mug,”which is refilled at the same price as a pint, Feringa said.

Just like those pubs in Maine, the mug club members at Baffin get to know each other as they hang out in the brewery near Lake St. Clair. White Christmas lights winking out from the wall of hard earned mugs is one of the first things guests see when they walk in. Tables and chairs are scattered about the sunny, open space that includes an attractive wood bar top that runs along the back wall. The shiny tanks that hold the tasty ales stand to the left and self-serve popcorn is always available.

Feringa received training from the master brewers’ program at the Siebel Institute in Chicago and spent time at Dragonmead Brewery. He and partners Joe Dowd and Joe VanderMarliere opened the brewery together.

“Joe (Dowd) and I started brewing together in college. I always loved to cook, loved homebrew, and at some point realized I wanted to open a brewery. We met Joe (VanderMarliere), a St. Clair Shores native, and everything fell into place. It’s a wonderful partnership—we loved it from the get-go and we are still going strong!”

baffin brewery

All of Baffin’s beers impress, but here are some stand-outs:

Mango Unchained (6.5% ABV, uses 75% Michigan hops). Fruit ales often miss the mark. Either they don’t have enough of a fruit profile or they taste like the syrup in Slush Puppies. This beer found the sweet spot (no pun intended) with enough of a mango flavor without being cloying. As it mellowed, it became hoppier—but never overwhelmingly so.

Monkadelic (9.1% ABV, all Michigan hops). Making a 9%+ beer that doesn’t taste like pure alcohol is no small feat, so Baffin is to be commended for making a solid Belgian tripel. Nice malty flavors with some tropical fruit and banana.

Eye of the Porter (6.5% ABV, all Michigan hops). Toasty and chocolatey, this beer is a great example of a  porter style beer. A touch of fruit prevents it from being too chocolatey (yes, there is such a thing!). Roasty, but light enough to enjoy on a hot summer day.

Mickey Redmond Red Ale (7% ABV, all Michigan hops). Nicely balanced ale with hints of biscuit, caramel and malt. Some red ales can be too malty or not malty enough and taste like a regular pale ale–this beer hit the sweet spot.

Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby (6.5% ABV, all Michigan hops). Even if one is neither a fan of IPAs nor grapefruit, she will find this beer to her liking!  Eighty-eight pounds of grapefruit go into the mash but the taste was not overpowering. Michigan Cascade hops are used in the dry hopping of this effervescent and refreshing ale.

Unlike many other brewpubs, Baffin lists the percentage of Michigan grown hops on the tap list. Big proponents of Michigan industry, Baffin uses locally grown grains and hops except when recipes require ingredients from Germany or other countries.

“We always knew we wanted to use as many Michigan hops as possible, so we teamed up with Church Key Farms (out of Deerfield) and use every hop as we can,” Feringa said.

 

Photography: Steph Harding

Royal Oak is recognized as a destination for great entertainment, dining and drink. To understand all the reasons why might seem a lofty endeavor.
But once a year, the Royal Oak Restaurant Association makes it easy to take it all in during one afternoon.
craft beer strollThis is the seventh year the restaurants of downtown Royal Oak have collaborated to showcase both the town’s dining and Michigan’s craft beer for the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll, which will take place October 14, 2017 from 12-5 p.m.
“Over 20 downtown Royal Oak restaurants will offer a sample of food along with a sample of Michigan craft beer,” said Stephanie McIntyre, who is producing the event for the Royal Oak Restaurant Association. “Guests go from location to location, taste their samples and stroll around downtown Royal Oak.”
For $40 in advance and $50 the day of, participants can claim samples from all 23 restaurants while walking around downtown Royal Oak. No two locations will have the same Michigan beer, and the food selections are just as diverse.
“I think it’s a really great opportunity for folks to, in one day, get a taste of really great Michigan beer without having to commit to a pint at each place,” said Bob Morton, co-owner of Lily’s Seafood Grill & Brewery. “You can sample a little bit of all of these beers and still be able to walk at the end of the day.”
The stroll is also a perfect way to experience the versatility of craft beer as a complement to quality cuisine, Morton said. Lily’s Seafood Grill & Brewery is serving a choice between its house-brewed Pilsner, Marzen and Stout alongside chocolate stout cupcakes.
A lot of people might not think to pair beer with dessert, Morton said, or there may be a guest who never drinks a stout because they have a misconception of what darker beer tastes like.
“We’re going to take advantage of that opportunity to maybe broaden their horizons and educate their palates a little bit,” Morton said.
The Michigan Craft Beer Stroll celebrates Michigan’s rich craft beer culture, but it has increasingly become a celebration of Royal Oak. The event encourages people to join up with friends and walk from eatery to eatery. While they’re taking in great food and beer, they’re also taking in the town of Royal Oak.
craft beer stroll
And a few of the participating restaurants, like Lily’s, brew their own beer or will be featuring beer brewed in Royal Oak.
Royal Oak Brewery, for example, has been brewing beer in town since the ‘90s and has participated in the Craft Beer Stroll every year.
“We’ve been championing craft beer since September 1995, and any chance we get to do it, we jump at,” said Tim Selewski, general manager of Royal Oak Brewery. “For us, it’s a really easy decision to be a part of something like this.”
The event isn’t just for those interested in beer, though.
“Beer lovers, food lovers and just entertainment lovers in general will all find a rewarding experience in coming to Royal Oak and taking part in the Craft Beer Stroll,” Morton said.
The Royal Oak Restaurant Association puts on the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll with the intent of donating proceeds to a local nonprofit.
“It’s something that they always incorporate into all of their events,” said McIntyre. “It’s just a really important part of giving back to the community that supports them throughout the year by eating and drinking and hanging out at their restaurants.”


McIntyre said these events usually result in a $10,000 donation to the chosen nonprofit. Over their many years of engagement, the Royal Oak Restaurant Association has donated over $250,000 to nonprofits in the Royal Oak area, McIntyre said.
This year’s proceeds will go to Detroit Dog Rescue, an organization with the mission of creating a state-of-the-art no kill animal shelter in Detroit.
Those who’ve participated in the event in the past say it’s a spectacle to see.
“This event blows me away every year,” Selewski said.
“It’s a cool thing to be down in Royal Oak the day of the event, because you’ll just see these groups of happy people, roaming from place to place,” McIntyre said.
“They’re roaming around town in these packs and they’re having a blast,” Selewski said. “They’re laughing, enjoying the food and checking out these places they haven’t tried before.”
That’s what the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll accomplishes for Royal Oak: exposure to the sheer variety of experiences the town has to offer.
“You could come here every day and have a totally different experience,” Morton said. “The beer stroll is a great way to experience that diversity in one day.”
Attendees are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance at Eventbrite.com.
 
Sponsored by the Royal Oak Restaurant Association 
 

craft beer stroll

Royal Oak is recognized as a destination for great entertainment, dining and drink. To understand all the reasons why might seem a lofty endeavor.

But once a year, the Royal Oak Restaurant Association makes it easy to take it all in during one afternoon.

craft beer strollThis is the seventh year the restaurants of downtown Royal Oak have collaborated to showcase both the town’s dining and Michigan’s craft beer for the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll, which will take place October 14, 2017 from 12-5 p.m.

“Over 20 downtown Royal Oak restaurants will offer a sample of food along with a sample of Michigan craft beer,” said Stephanie McIntyre, who is producing the event for the Royal Oak Restaurant Association. “Guests go from location to location, taste their samples and stroll around downtown Royal Oak.”

For $40 in advance and $50 the day of, participants can claim samples from all 23 restaurants while walking around downtown Royal Oak. No two locations will have the same Michigan beer, and the food selections are just as diverse.

“I think it’s a really great opportunity for folks to, in one day, get a taste of really great Michigan beer without having to commit to a pint at each place,” said Bob Morton, co-owner of Lily’s Seafood Grill & Brewery. “You can sample a little bit of all of these beers and still be able to walk at the end of the day.”

The stroll is also a perfect way to experience the versatility of craft beer as a complement to quality cuisine, Morton said. Lily’s Seafood Grill & Brewery is serving a choice between its house-brewed Pilsner, Marzen and Stout alongside chocolate stout cupcakes.

A lot of people might not think to pair beer with dessert, Morton said, or there may be a guest who never drinks a stout because they have a misconception of what darker beer tastes like.

“We’re going to take advantage of that opportunity to maybe broaden their horizons and educate their palates a little bit,” Morton said.

The Michigan Craft Beer Stroll celebrates Michigan’s rich craft beer culture, but it has increasingly become a celebration of Royal Oak. The event encourages people to join up with friends and walk from eatery to eatery. While they’re taking in great food and beer, they’re also taking in the town of Royal Oak.

craft beer stroll

And a few of the participating restaurants, like Lily’s, brew their own beer or will be featuring beer brewed in Royal Oak.

Royal Oak Brewery, for example, has been brewing beer in town since the ‘90s and has participated in the Craft Beer Stroll every year.

“We’ve been championing craft beer since September 1995, and any chance we get to do it, we jump at,” said Tim Selewski, general manager of Royal Oak Brewery. “For us, it’s a really easy decision to be a part of something like this.”

The event isn’t just for those interested in beer, though.

“Beer lovers, food lovers and just entertainment lovers in general will all find a rewarding experience in coming to Royal Oak and taking part in the Craft Beer Stroll,” Morton said.

The Royal Oak Restaurant Association puts on the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll with the intent of donating proceeds to a local nonprofit.

“It’s something that they always incorporate into all of their events,” said McIntyre. “It’s just a really important part of giving back to the community that supports them throughout the year by eating and drinking and hanging out at their restaurants.”

McIntyre said these events usually result in a $10,000 donation to the chosen nonprofit. Over their many years of engagement, the Royal Oak Restaurant Association has donated over $250,000 to nonprofits in the Royal Oak area, McIntyre said.

This year’s proceeds will go to Detroit Dog Rescue, an organization with the mission of creating a state-of-the-art no kill animal shelter in Detroit.

Those who’ve participated in the event in the past say it’s a spectacle to see.

“This event blows me away every year,” Selewski said.

“It’s a cool thing to be down in Royal Oak the day of the event, because you’ll just see these groups of happy people, roaming from place to place,” McIntyre said.

“They’re roaming around town in these packs and they’re having a blast,” Selewski said. “They’re laughing, enjoying the food and checking out these places they haven’t tried before.”

That’s what the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll accomplishes for Royal Oak: exposure to the sheer variety of experiences the town has to offer.

“You could come here every day and have a totally different experience,” Morton said. “The beer stroll is a great way to experience that diversity in one day.”

Attendees are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance at Eventbrite.com.

 

Sponsored by the Royal Oak Restaurant Association 

 

washtenaw county

Washtenaw County is blessed with many things—beautiful downtowns, spacious parks, green space, and a wide variety of brewpubs for our drinking pleasure. This article will examine the six non-Ann Arbor pubs—Chelsea Alehouse, Original Gravity, Ypsi Alehouse, Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery (the Corner), Salt Springs, and Stony Lake Brewing Company (I’m including Jolly Pumpkin in part two, don’t worry!)
To keep things organized, I looked at six different factors

  • The standout beer (very subjective, of course)
  • The noise level (standard: could you have a first date here and hear the person?)
  • Overall comfort (things like whether the bathrooms are clean, variety of places to sit, friendly bartenders, would I wear my jeans that ripped over the summer but hey the 90s are back or would I put on something nicer)
  • Food (not rated for taste necessarily—just what they have)
  • Special Events (music, trivia, etc.)
  • The beer a newbie craft beer drinker should have—in other words, what would my dad get?

Note that I visited these brewpubs over the span of several weeks and beer selections may have changed. Similarly, the noise level may differ depending on when you go.
 
Chelsea Alehouse:

  • Standout Beer: The Holz Hausen Smoked Porter. Brewed with cherry wood smoked malt, this robust porter hits the drinker with smoke and then mellows into a rich porter. If this were a song, it would be a jazz standard sung in a jazz bar before the Michigan smoking ban.
  • Noise Level: At midday on a sunny Saturday, the brewpub had a lot of people in it but managed not to be extremely noisy so one could comfortably have met a first date here or had a business meeting. My friend and I went outside and there were only two other people there so it was perfect for us to shoot the breeze.
  • Overall Comfort: Short wait to get bartenders’ attention, bathrooms very clean, lots of booths and spots at the bar along with delightful outdoor patio. Air conditioning level optimal. Ripped jeans would be fine but so would a skirt or dress.
  • Food: Variety of appetizers, sandwiches, with a couple of entrees and salads. The soft pretzels come straight from the Chelsea Bakery and pair nicely with the pub cheese.
  • Special Events: First and third Tuesdays feature trivia, the bluegrass band Thunderwude plays on Wednesdays, live music on Fridays, Sundays feature Celtic jam sessions, live jazz or a song circle where one can enjoy local musicians or join in and play along with them!
  • Newbie Beer: Session IPA. Many newcomers to craft beer gravitate to IPAs, and this session beer has a lower ABV (4.5%) that offers the drinker just enough hoppiness with low alcohol.  My dad would drink this with only a small grimace, asking again about why this place doesn’t have Miller.

 
Original Gravity Brewing Company:

  • Standout Beer: 440 Pepper Smoker. The first smoked beer I ever had and still one of the best. Its base is an amber ale made with smoked German malt. Jalapenos are added at various stages in the brewing process giving this beer the perfect amount of heat.
  • Noise Level: On the day that I went, it was the OG anniversary party so the inside and outside patio were packed. The noise level varies, with the pub being very crowded during special events (e.g. we haven’t been able to get into the Ugly Sweater/Christmas Vacation party at least twice) to very mellow around happy hour.
  • Overall Comfort: Assortment of small and large tables, nice bar top, even a couple of recliners back by the video game console. Bathrooms always very clean. Bartenders have never been anything less than friendly and attentive. TVs above the bar and a screen in the back for when they show movies. The ripped jeans would be fine.
  • Food: Sandwiches, snacks, also Sprecher soda on tap and Calder Dairy ice cream
  • Special Events: On Wednesdays you can find the Original Gravity Farmer’s Market featuring Zilke Vegetable Farms. Thursdays have Sporacle Live trivia and there is live music on Fridays during the summer months.
  • Newbie Beer: If it’s on tap, have your friend (or dad) try the Eazy-Duz-It IPA. It’s 4.8% so on the low side as far as craft beer goes but very easy drinking (as the name implies). I think of this beer as a lawnmower beer and I think even Dad would agree that he might have been able to drink one of these back in his mowing days. (He’d still be muttering about Miller though)

 
Stony Lake Brewing Company:

  • Standout Beer: Ole 50 Weight. What a Russian Imperial Stout should be—rich, thick, dark and brimming with chocolate yumminess.
  • Noise Level: Perfect to have a conversation with my husband.
  • Overall Comfort: Clean, friendly, would feel comfortable going in any time. We sat at the bar, but the tables looked nice. There were some outdoor tables as well.
  • Food: Carry in or order out; sometimes have food trucks on site.
  • Special Events: Live music and food trucks!
  • Newbie Beer: Working Man. A blonde ale with some hop profile that my dad would enjoy and manage to find all of the other UAW retirees in the immediate vicinity, instantly making friends with them all.

 
Salt Springs Brewery:

  • Standout beer: Oktoberfest. Perfectly to style and malty as all get out, this is the beer for me!
  • Noise level: It’s been noisy and crowded every time I have been there, which is good! Can make it a little hard to hear your date, so sit at the bar.
  • Overall Comfort: Absolutely gorgeous space! The attention to detail is second to none—just lovely! Everything is clean and sparkling. Much more restaurant aesthetic. The ripped jeans would have to live in the drawer with their tracksuit friends.
  • Food: Okay I know I said I wasn’t rating for taste but the food here is incredible. Full lunch and dinner menu includes poutine, truffle fries, flatbread pizzas, strip steak, sandwiches and desserts. I would put this up against most non-brewpub restaurants.
  • Special Events: Live music in the Biergarten on most Friday nights, Sporacle trivia on Thursdays, monthly Brushes & Brews (painting lessons by local aritsts)
  • Newbie Beer: The Kick Axe Kolsch. Light touch of honey and bit of hops in this crisp beer. My dad would start googling “Kolsch” in his phone at this point, possibly complaining that the phone I gave him doesn’t work right (it does, he’s just not on the wi-fi)

washtenaw county

Salt Springs Brewery


 
ABC Microbrewery/Corner:

  • Standout Beer: Will always be Espresso Love. The first coffee stout that I drank and still one of my favorites.
  • Noise Level: The beer garden is almost always a comfortable place to hang out and chat with, say, your new beau or new friend. Inside can get noisy, especially when there is live music playing.
  • Overall Comfort: The bartenders here are top notch but I may be biased since I know many of them. My ripped jeans would fit in perfectly as would most anything you show up in. While I do miss the couches and mismatches tables and chairs from the old days, I still enjoy sitting by the fireplace. There are games and books, too.
  • Food: The absolute best sandwich ever to ever exist is the TeacherPatti House Reuben—ha ha, just kidding. It is a good sandwich though. Since the kitchen makeover of a few years ago, the food game was upped quite a bit. Now in addition to the amazing Reuben, you can enjoy other sandwiches named after patrons (such as the IP-Amy’s Onion Rings and Archie’s Hog-Gobbler Club) along with salads, burgers, entrees, and pizza.
  • Special Events (music, trivia, etc.): live music on Mondays, live trivia on Wednesdays plus various weekend events
  • Newbie Beer: I imagine we’d start my dad on the Bollywood Blonde, a refreshing beer with a nice hint of orange to it. At this point, my dad would be more open to trying new beers and probably not notice the higher ABV and would now be making friends with people at the bar, showing them what his Smart Phone can do. He would also be sharing his vast trivia knowledge with our fellow patrons, whether they want him to or not.

 
Ypsilanti Ale House:

  • Standout Beer: Blue Racer. This honeywheat beer is made with all Michigan grown ingredients—blueberries, honey, wheat, barley, hops. Some fruit beers can get too heavy and syrupy and forget their base beer but not this one.
  • Noise Level: The main room is a pleasant level and there is also a smaller room one can go into for more intimate conversations. Music sounds great in here!
  • Overall Comfort: Clean and comfortable, very nice and experienced bartenders, would be comfortable in my jeans or a dressier outfit.
  • Food: A nice variety of bar snacks, burgers, sandwiches, small plates
  • Special Events (music, trivia, etc.): Dart league on Wednesdays, live music on Sundays (bluegrass, Irish jam), trivia on Sundays is paired with a weekly dinner special!
  • Newbie Beer: Pottawatomi Trail Ale. This light session pale ale has local hops and is low enough in ABV such that one can drink several. My dad has now purchased the bar. We all go home happy.

 
So as you can see, no matter where you go you will find friendly people and great beer! Come on down to the Washtenaw county and check it out!
 

washtenaw county

Washtenaw County is blessed with many things—beautiful downtowns, spacious parks, green space, and a wide variety of brewpubs for our drinking pleasure. This article will examine the six non-Ann Arbor pubs—Chelsea Alehouse, Original Gravity, Ypsi Alehouse, Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery (the Corner), Salt Springs, and Stony Lake Brewing Company (I’m including Jolly Pumpkin in part two, don’t worry!)

To keep things organized, I looked at six different factors

  • The standout beer (very subjective, of course)
  • The noise level (standard: could you have a first date here and hear the person?)
  • Overall comfort (things like whether the bathrooms are clean, variety of places to sit, friendly bartenders, would I wear my jeans that ripped over the summer but hey the 90s are back or would I put on something nicer)
  • Food (not rated for taste necessarily—just what they have)
  • Special Events (music, trivia, etc.)
  • The beer a newbie craft beer drinker should have—in other words, what would my dad get?

Note that I visited these brewpubs over the span of several weeks and beer selections may have changed. Similarly, the noise level may differ depending on when you go.

 

Chelsea Alehouse:

  • Standout Beer: The Holz Hausen Smoked Porter. Brewed with cherry wood smoked malt, this robust porter hits the drinker with smoke and then mellows into a rich porter. If this were a song, it would be a jazz standard sung in a jazz bar before the Michigan smoking ban.
  • Noise Level: At midday on a sunny Saturday, the brewpub had a lot of people in it but managed not to be extremely noisy so one could comfortably have met a first date here or had a business meeting. My friend and I went outside and there were only two other people there so it was perfect for us to shoot the breeze.
  • Overall Comfort: Short wait to get bartenders’ attention, bathrooms very clean, lots of booths and spots at the bar along with delightful outdoor patio. Air conditioning level optimal. Ripped jeans would be fine but so would a skirt or dress.
  • Food: Variety of appetizers, sandwiches, with a couple of entrees and salads. The soft pretzels come straight from the Chelsea Bakery and pair nicely with the pub cheese.
  • Special Events: First and third Tuesdays feature trivia, the bluegrass band Thunderwude plays on Wednesdays, live music on Fridays, Sundays feature Celtic jam sessions, live jazz or a song circle where one can enjoy local musicians or join in and play along with them!
  • Newbie Beer: Session IPA. Many newcomers to craft beer gravitate to IPAs, and this session beer has a lower ABV (4.5%) that offers the drinker just enough hoppiness with low alcohol.  My dad would drink this with only a small grimace, asking again about why this place doesn’t have Miller.

 

Original Gravity Brewing Company:

  • Standout Beer: 440 Pepper Smoker. The first smoked beer I ever had and still one of the best. Its base is an amber ale made with smoked German malt. Jalapenos are added at various stages in the brewing process giving this beer the perfect amount of heat.
  • Noise Level: On the day that I went, it was the OG anniversary party so the inside and outside patio were packed. The noise level varies, with the pub being very crowded during special events (e.g. we haven’t been able to get into the Ugly Sweater/Christmas Vacation party at least twice) to very mellow around happy hour.
  • Overall Comfort: Assortment of small and large tables, nice bar top, even a couple of recliners back by the video game console. Bathrooms always very clean. Bartenders have never been anything less than friendly and attentive. TVs above the bar and a screen in the back for when they show movies. The ripped jeans would be fine.
  • Food: Sandwiches, snacks, also Sprecher soda on tap and Calder Dairy ice cream
  • Special Events: On Wednesdays you can find the Original Gravity Farmer’s Market featuring Zilke Vegetable Farms. Thursdays have Sporacle Live trivia and there is live music on Fridays during the summer months.
  • Newbie Beer: If it’s on tap, have your friend (or dad) try the Eazy-Duz-It IPA. It’s 4.8% so on the low side as far as craft beer goes but very easy drinking (as the name implies). I think of this beer as a lawnmower beer and I think even Dad would agree that he might have been able to drink one of these back in his mowing days. (He’d still be muttering about Miller though)

 

Stony Lake Brewing Company:

  • Standout Beer: Ole 50 Weight. What a Russian Imperial Stout should be—rich, thick, dark and brimming with chocolate yumminess.
  • Noise Level: Perfect to have a conversation with my husband.
  • Overall Comfort: Clean, friendly, would feel comfortable going in any time. We sat at the bar, but the tables looked nice. There were some outdoor tables as well.
  • Food: Carry in or order out; sometimes have food trucks on site.
  • Special Events: Live music and food trucks!
  • Newbie Beer: Working Man. A blonde ale with some hop profile that my dad would enjoy and manage to find all of the other UAW retirees in the immediate vicinity, instantly making friends with them all.

 

Salt Springs Brewery:

  • Standout beer: Oktoberfest. Perfectly to style and malty as all get out, this is the beer for me!
  • Noise level: It’s been noisy and crowded every time I have been there, which is good! Can make it a little hard to hear your date, so sit at the bar.
  • Overall Comfort: Absolutely gorgeous space! The attention to detail is second to none—just lovely! Everything is clean and sparkling. Much more restaurant aesthetic. The ripped jeans would have to live in the drawer with their tracksuit friends.
  • Food: Okay I know I said I wasn’t rating for taste but the food here is incredible. Full lunch and dinner menu includes poutine, truffle fries, flatbread pizzas, strip steak, sandwiches and desserts. I would put this up against most non-brewpub restaurants.
  • Special Events: Live music in the Biergarten on most Friday nights, Sporacle trivia on Thursdays, monthly Brushes & Brews (painting lessons by local aritsts)
  • Newbie Beer: The Kick Axe Kolsch. Light touch of honey and bit of hops in this crisp beer. My dad would start googling “Kolsch” in his phone at this point, possibly complaining that the phone I gave him doesn’t work right (it does, he’s just not on the wi-fi)
washtenaw county

Salt Springs Brewery

 

ABC Microbrewery/Corner:

  • Standout Beer: Will always be Espresso Love. The first coffee stout that I drank and still one of my favorites.
  • Noise Level: The beer garden is almost always a comfortable place to hang out and chat with, say, your new beau or new friend. Inside can get noisy, especially when there is live music playing.
  • Overall Comfort: The bartenders here are top notch but I may be biased since I know many of them. My ripped jeans would fit in perfectly as would most anything you show up in. While I do miss the couches and mismatches tables and chairs from the old days, I still enjoy sitting by the fireplace. There are games and books, too.
  • Food: The absolute best sandwich ever to ever exist is the TeacherPatti House Reuben—ha ha, just kidding. It is a good sandwich though. Since the kitchen makeover of a few years ago, the food game was upped quite a bit. Now in addition to the amazing Reuben, you can enjoy other sandwiches named after patrons (such as the IP-Amy’s Onion Rings and Archie’s Hog-Gobbler Club) along with salads, burgers, entrees, and pizza.
  • Special Events (music, trivia, etc.): live music on Mondays, live trivia on Wednesdays plus various weekend events
  • Newbie Beer: I imagine we’d start my dad on the Bollywood Blonde, a refreshing beer with a nice hint of orange to it. At this point, my dad would be more open to trying new beers and probably not notice the higher ABV and would now be making friends with people at the bar, showing them what his Smart Phone can do. He would also be sharing his vast trivia knowledge with our fellow patrons, whether they want him to or not.

 

Ypsilanti Ale House:

  • Standout Beer: Blue Racer. This honeywheat beer is made with all Michigan grown ingredients—blueberries, honey, wheat, barley, hops. Some fruit beers can get too heavy and syrupy and forget their base beer but not this one.
  • Noise Level: The main room is a pleasant level and there is also a smaller room one can go into for more intimate conversations. Music sounds great in here!
  • Overall Comfort: Clean and comfortable, very nice and experienced bartenders, would be comfortable in my jeans or a dressier outfit.
  • Food: A nice variety of bar snacks, burgers, sandwiches, small plates
  • Special Events (music, trivia, etc.): Dart league on Wednesdays, live music on Sundays (bluegrass, Irish jam), trivia on Sundays is paired with a weekly dinner special!
  • Newbie Beer: Pottawatomi Trail Ale. This light session pale ale has local hops and is low enough in ABV such that one can drink several. My dad has now purchased the bar. We all go home happy.

 

So as you can see, no matter where you go you will find friendly people and great beer! Come on down to the Washtenaw county and check it out!