The traditional 20th anniversary gift is something platinum. But when Arbor Brewing Company celebrated its 20th anniversary this weekend, it gave us what it has been giving us for two decades: beer!

Twenty years ago, the brewpub opened on Washington Street in downtown Ann Arbor. Today, thanks largely to the anchoring of Arbor Brewing Company (and Grizzly Peak), the street boasts restaurants, a chocolate shop, an independent bookstore, a barbecue restaurant/brewpub, whiskey bar and many other delights. On July 31, the street was closed down and a grand 20th anniversary party was held. The event was basically what you would expect from the friendly bar: good music, good eats from food trucks and great beer.

When asked for the first three things that come to mind on this momentous day, owner-operator Rene Greff said, “Wow! Well, first, Jim “Mr. Largebeat” Gertz has been washing dishes for us (among other things) since the day we opened and we were thrilled to see him return to work after winning the fight against leukemia! Second, we have a freakin’ brewpub in India! And third…who ever would have guessed back in the mid ’90s that we would be surviving and thriving 20 years later – certainly not us!”

Stormcloud Brewing Company, now open daily year round, has made a major impact on the small community of Frankfort. This was evident throughout Sunday as it celebrated its second birthday. Usually a quiet town, downtown Frankfort was full of life as the community celebrated a great local brewery.

Stormcloud opened its beer garden for the first time, complete with yard games and live music. Giant Tic-Tac-Toe and Jenga adorned the grass as local musicians played in the summer sun. Performers included Old Mission Collective, Achilles Tenderloin, Renee Herman, Blair Miller and Robbie Provo.

As with any good birthday party, there were balloons, great food, and birthday treats. Food specials included beer-can chicken and stout cupcakes. There were Happy Hour specials for dads (in recognition of Father’s Day) and special discounts for Cloudspotters (Stormcloud’s membership club).

The brewery’s birthday wasn’t the only cause for celebration. In addition to multiple national and local awards, head brewer Brian Confer was also recently voted one of the top three brewers in Northern Michigan by the readers of Traverse: Northern Michigan’s Magazine and MyNorth.com.

Stormcloud also recently received the 2015 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. This was not an award just for the beer, but for its excellent service and food as well. Clearly, Stormcloud has a few things figured out.

OXFORD — Falling Down Beer Company has announced the expansion of operations to a second microbrewery, located at 14 N. Washington Street in Downtown Oxford.

The second location will feature a 60-seat taproom with 30 taps available. The brewery has also applied for a small wine maker and small distiller license for the location.

“We have had a great year and we are struggling to keep up with the demand of our core products,” said Mark Larson, Co-Founder and Head Brewer.

The new location is expected to produce 2,000 barrels of beer per year, four times more than the original Warren location.

The Warren location will remain and will also be expanded, adding a winery and additional brewing capacity.

The brewery is also working on canning of its flagship Ninja Chicken Pale Ale, as well as Scurvy Dan Blood Orange IPA, Falling Down’s bestselling summer seasonal.

The new Oxford location is expected to open in late 2015.

DEXTER — Jolly Pumpkin has announced it will bring two new sour beers to market — Rojzilla and La Roja du Kriek — as a part of its “April Showers Bring Jolly Pumpkin Sours” campaign.

Rojzilla (7.4% ABV) is a sour brew that is aged for a year and a half in a 100-bbl oak foudre before being blended with a few “normal” size barrels of varying ages. The result creates a complex combination of flavors and sophistication.

La Roja du Kriek (7.5% ABV) takes 3,100 gallons of the brewery’s quintessential beer, La Roja (2013), and marries it with 50 gallons of Michigan tart cherry juice. The brew is then aged in oak barrels and bottled conditioned.

A draft and bottle release for both beers is scheduled for the weekend of June 6-7 at the Null taproom in Dexter, as well as Jolly Pumpkin locations in Ann Arbor, Midtown (Detroit) and Traverse City.

Special tastings and release parties will also be held across the country.

HUDSONVILLE — To any beer lover the ‘follow your nose’ approach always leads you to the golden nuggets — hop nuggets.

The Mash Mayhem was the opener to this year’s Beer City Spring Fest. Boiling bubbles releasing hop aromas welcomed the attendees as they walked through the entrance. The event brought homebrewers together to create a shared mash, in which they took five gallons of the common mash to add their own unique twists. A display of their boiling pots were the foreground to over 50 breweries, wineries, distilleries and cider makers ready to pour thousands of samples.

The smell was obviously perfect to accompany festival of this nature, but the actual ability to watch brewing up close and personal isn’t a normal scene. Witnessing the wide-eyed looks on some faces, was a sure sign they had never been this close to the beer making process before.

Having the Mash Mayhem truly bridges the gap between a brewer making a beer and the customer who consumes the beer. All attendees to the festival were able to witness first hand the beer making process and ask any question their heart desired.

“It was my first time attending Springfest and I had a great day hanging with other brewers,” said Edwin Collazo, one of the homebrewers. “We couldn’t have asked for better weather in a more friendly group of people.”

Chrissy Walker, Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply manager, loved “meeting new people whom have the same passion for craft beer. The atmosphere was perfect with craft beer pouring in the background and home brew boiling in the front.”

The Mash Mayhem was truly a great addition to the Spring Fest this year. Minimizing the division between brewers and consumers can be difficult in normal brewing scenarios. Let’s be honest — most of us don’t want to wake up at 4:30 to check out our local breweries brewing beer or know someone that home brews. The ability to share brewing to as many people as possible, in one location, is like winning that golden nugget — forever feeling fortune.

March 8 marked a brilliant day for craft beer on a global level — it was International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. On this day, across all of the time zones, craft industry professionals and enthusiasts worked to create a unique spin on one recipe.

The result: Unite Red Ale, revisited (original recipe created by Sophie du Ronde, Muntons Malt — England). The collaborative effort was tapped and celebrated at Clubhouse BFD (Rochester Hills) on Wednesday, with representatives from Griffin Claw and MillKing It Productions present.

“There’s the Milking It [Productions] version, which is a much more traditional-style red, and then there’s Griffin Claw’s — it’s spicier and not as hoppy,” says Griffin Claw’s Angie Williams.

HopCat Grand Rapids will also debut its version today.

Although the event was slotted as a beer versus beer competition, everyone there wasn’t picking favorites; rather, they were reminiscing about the day and toasting the journey of such a neat idea. The labels for the brew showcase a collage of photos from the brew day, attributing the success to the united effort of women across the world.

“The coolest part about all of it was knowing that brewers on the other side of the world had already begun brewing before it was March 8 here in Michigan — the anticipation took the excitement to a whole new level,” added Williams.

FERNDALE — It’s 12:01 a.m. and the Emperor of Oberon has been named, crowned and caped thanks to a lucky raffle draw. Most importantly, he has also been handed the first official glass of the infamous Bell’s Brewery craft beverage. To the eager crowd, Oberon means no more winter, and with that first sip, bar patrons collectively let out blissful sighs of last year’s spring and summer nostalgia.

One-Eyed Betty’s played host to this happy event, with customers and staff excited for a special Sunday release. Sure, most everyone in the room had to be up early this coming Monday for work, but everyone seemed content, frosty glass in hand.

Erika Vitkin, a Bell’s Brewery Field Representative for Southeast Michigan, distributed free swag and good cheer in honor of the event.

“Oberon is an annual staple on the Michigan timeline of beer releases,” she says. “It reminds everyone of something different — and for me — it’s hanging out on my porch back in college, and also, it’s just home.”

So while March weather in Michigan continues to play hot-and-cold with its residents, the craft industry has officially marked the start of spring. Oberon is here!

You heard it on MittenBrew.com first, and now it’s confirmed — Rockford Brewing Company will release its Belgian Multigrain Anniversary Ale in limited bottles on April 7, beginning at 5 p.m.

The beer will be available in 2013 and 2014 versions, both in 750mL bottles. A limited quantity of 100 bottles is available from 2013, with 500 being made available from 2014. There is a limit of two bottles per person, per day.

“Belgian Multigrain was among the first brands available when RBC first opened in 2012 before it later became known as our annual Anniversary Ale. It is very meaningful for us to choose our first and second anniversary brews for RBC’s first ever bottle release,” said co-founder Seth Rivard.


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