Posts

WHAT AND WHY: To celebrate the 35th Anniversary of Ashley’s Pub in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Bell’s Brewery has brewed a special commemorative batch of beer. Ashley’s 35th Anniversary Ale is an Imperial Oatmeal Stout with an ABV of 8.5%. It will only be available on draught.

Bell’s previously brewed a Brown Ale to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Ashley’s in 2013. Larry Bell also celebrates 35 years with Bell’s Brewery this year. Bell founded the Kalamazoo Brewing Co., specializing in homebrew supplies and ingredients, two years before the brewery sold its first commercial craft beer.

 

Jeff More, co-owner of Ashley’s Pub in Ann Arbor helps brew a special anniversary ale at Bell’s Comstock Brewery.

 

“Ashley’s exists to help people to have a great time. One of the ways we do this is by offering great beers like Bell’s. We’ve been serving Bell’s continuously since Larry first started to bring his beers over to us back in the mid-1980s” Roy More, Co-Founder of Ashley’s said.

“It is not how many lines of beers a place has, but the beers on the lines. That’s why we offer Bell’s,” he added.

 

 

WHO: Bell’s Brewery is the oldest and largest independent craft brewery in Michigan and the 7th largest craft brewery in the country. Ashley’s Pub is one of Bell’s earliest supporters and one of the oldest pubs in the state.

 

WHEN: A week-long celebration beginning Sept. 16, 2018 at 5 p.m. with at least 15 different draught beers including Bell’s Honey Hearted, Hopsoulution Double IPA, Octoberfest, Pomegranate Oarsman, Uberon, Larry’s Latest IPA, Larry’s Latest Fruit Ale, Two Hearted, Best Brown, Amber Ale and more. These beers will be available while supplies last at Ashely’s Ann Arbor location only.

Other anniversary events in Ann Arbor are:

  • Monday, Sept. 17: Trivia Night, 7-9 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 18: Barrel Flights (2014 Black Note, 2016 Black Note, Saturn, Whiskey Barrel Aged Cherry Stout), 6-10 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 19: Brewers Happy Hour (food and beer pairing), 6-8 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 20: Mystery Tapping (Black Note fans will want to take note, and no, it’s not Black Note), 6 p.m.

 

WHERE: This limited, anniversary stout will only be available on tap at Ashley’s Ann Arbor (338 South State St.) and Westland (7525 N. Wayne Road) locations in addition to Bell’s Eccentric Café (355 E. Kalamazoo Ave.) in downtown Kalamazoo.

 

 

PITTSFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. – How are the traditions of beer defined? Can traditional beer-making methods enhance the modern approach to brewing?

Those are two vital questions that brewer Teo Watson-Ahlbrandt and business development veteran Spike Oliver will explore at their new brewery, Edelbrau Brewing Company. With the sustained emergence of craft brewing, the pair believe their approach, which weaves together history, artistic expression, and modern science, will give Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan something unique to look forward to.

edelbrau

Spike Oliver and Teo Watson-Ahlbrandt

“The traditional aspects of craft beer are often forgotten as the market expands and focuses on quick turnaround,” says Watson-Ahlbrandt. “We want to pay homage to Old World methods of making beer as well as traditional beer styles, taking what has been forgotten and re-interpreting it for today’s palate.”

“We’re challenging ourselves to create a portfolio of beers that reflects something new from something old,” adds Oliver. “An artist has the flexibility to work in water color, oil, spray paint, clay, or other media to create a piece of art. The end result and the experience will be unique depending on which medium is chosen.”

With a production facility secured at 719 W. Ellsworth Rd., Watson-Ahlbrandt and Oliver are actively looking for additional space to open a pub with a retail store and taproom where they can also host events and conduct brewing classes. They are targeting an opening for August of this year.

“Right now we’re working on getting licensed and making flavorful and unique beers that we can distribute to the Ann Arbor area,” says Oliver. “But our full vision is to create a space where Ann Arborites can feel cozy, have a great pint of beer, learn about brewing, and be entertained.”

 

About the Team

Teo Watson-Ahlbrandt – Brewery Manager

Ann Arbor local Teo Watson-Ahlbrandt runs a brewery consulting business geared toward serving clients across the state of Michigan. Recent projects include expansion plans for Ypsilanti-based Unity Vibration Living Kombucha as well as the launch of new Grand Rapids brewpub East West Brewing. Teo also serves as internal consultant and head brewer for Big Hart Brewing Company in Hart as well as for Biercamp in Ann Arbor. He has worked in several Michigan breweries including Arbor Brewing Company’s Brewpub and Microbrewery, Original Gravity Brewing Company in Milan, and Dark Horse Brewing Company in Marshall. Teo holds a bachelor degree in biochemistry from Eastern Michigan University and is an enthusiastic supporter of the school’s new fermentation science program.

Spike Oliver – Sales, Marketing, and Business Management

A native Chicagoan and avid homebrewer, Spike Oliver immersed himself in the food and beverage industry after college, working for Chicago-based chocolatier Vosges Haut-Chocolat, where he oversaw numerous aspects of the company’s multi-channel business. He currently runs the corporate gifts department at Zingerman’s Mail Order and is responsible for business development including sales, marketing, project management, hiring, and training. Along with his passion for the arts and business, Spike has a love for and fascination with the history of beer and food.

 

About the Brewery

More than two years in planning, Edelbrau Brewing Company was formed when Spike and Teo met through mutual friends at Zingerman’s. Over a few beers they noticed their passions and visions were perfectly complementary. They chose the name Edelbrau to express their unified goals – “edel” from the German word for “noble,” which not only refers to a certain class of hops but to the honorable craft of brewing itself and its importance in fostering a sense of community.
Edelbrau Brewing Company is currently in the licensing phase and hopes to open in August of 2017. The company will focus on creating full flavored beers to be distributed in Ann Arbor and throughout Southeast Michigan.

 

glasshouse brewing

The highly anticipated opening of Glasshouse Brewing of Ann Arbor has finally come!

The doors will unlock for the first time ever at 4pm on June 30, 2016, after three years of hard work and hurdles. Considered by many to be the most anticipated brewery of Washtenaw County this year, Glasshouse is located in the heart of West Side Ann Arbor amidst the bustle of University of Michigan Athletics and Ann Arbor tourism.

The microbrewery will open with an incredible lineup of six brews designed and executed by Head Brewer, Kuma Ofori-Mensa, including a cherry-wood smoked stout, an amber wheat beer, and a saison made with lemongrass and grains of paradise. Their next beer to be released is a kölsch-inspired lager made with all Michigan ingredients as a part of the microbrewery’s efforts to pursue sustainability and to promote other local and Michigan businesses.

Glasshouse Brewing intends to make every effort to be more than another microbrewery in the Midwest’s already booming craft beer industry: looking for every opportunity to invite members of all communities to find a regular spot to unwind in the fresh summer air of its beer garden or at the bar on a cold winter’s eve.

Although a kitchen is planned for the near future, the brewery will partner with their next door neighbor, Chela’s Taqueria, frequently throughout the summer. Having already been in discussion with the infamously delicious and authentic Mexican food destination they hope to regularly offer beer and food pairings.

Founding Mug Club memberships are still available for purchase at www.glasshousebrewing.com.

peak

Grizzly Peak is one of the pioneer brewpubs in Ann Arbor, MI. Along with Arbor Brewing Company, it anchors Washington Street in downtown in a way that beer drinkers might be tempted to take for granted. But make no mistake—even after 21 years in the business, this landmark brewpub continues offering outstanding beer and food.

In Ann Arbor’s early days, the Peak’s part of town belonged to the Germans. They settled this town and brought with them their brewing recipes. Names like Metzger, Staebler, and Wagner dominated this area with their shops, hotels, and breweries. The names have changed, but this corner still offers great beer.

A warm and friendly atmosphere greets you the moment you walk through the door. You can see the chefs cooking the meals, fire from the grill sometimes flaming up in a spectacular show. There is lots of wood and exposed brick, reminiscent of beer halls in old Bavaria. The tin pressed ceiling reminds you that this is a historic building in a historic part of town. In the room to your right is the shiny bar lined with alcohol, pint glasses, and growlers—all waiting for you! Next to that room is a quieter dining area. Step back outside and peek into the window to see the brewing equipment, gleaming in the sunlight.

If your timing is right, you might see long-time head brewer Duncan Williams at work with that equipment. Williams studied at the Siebel Institution (the oldest brewing school in the United States), and began his career at CJ’s Brewing Company. Beginning in 2001, he served as assistant brewer to Ron Jeffries (now owner of the Jolly Pumpkin empire) before becoming the head brewer. Under his tutelage, the brewery turns out some of the most consistently tasty beers in the area.

peak

Williams had a lot to be proud of, but says he is particularly pleased with the success of the Sheerwater IPA. “I was going to do an American IPA,” Williams says. “But at some point I started looking into the original IPAs—the English ones. I came up with the recipe, and it has been on hand pull for close to ten years now.”

Of the other house beers, Williams notes that the Victor’s Gold is also a favorite. “I changed it into more of a hoppy Kolsch style beer. It’s considered a gateway beer, but I put in additional hops at the end of the brew to give it more bitterness. It has European spicy hops, lending to a more estery pilsner.” This is especially good for those new to craft beer because “they might be turned off by the bitterness. So I backed off on that, and increased the hop profile.”

The brewery has expanded over the years, most notably to include the Den, which is located in the space formerly occupied by the Del Rio. Williams recalls that the last night at the “Del” was New Year’s Eve of 2003. “The next year, we knocked holes in the walls and put in the new bar.” More recently, the owners opened the Old German, which also features the Peak’s brews. (Long time Ann Arborites will remember the bar with the same name that operated from 1928 until 1995).

But it’s not all about the past at Grizzly Peak. Williams is excited about his summer beers that are coming up, including the El Hefe. This beer screams summer, delivering a big hit of honey, banana, and pear.

Williams will again brew a series of table beers—light, easy drinking beers that weigh in at about 3.5% ABV but retain the outstanding taste of a heavier beer. “These types of beers go back to the days when municipalities were not treating their water,” Williams explains. “So you made beer, cider, or wine to keep it safe. The lower alcohol let you drink more of the beer, without getting the effects that come with higher ABVs.”

This year, he is brewing Ms. Havisham’s Table Ale. It would be safe to say that we should have Great Expectations for this beer, as it will be a bitter with East Kent Golding hops and measure about 3% ABV.

All of the beers at Grizzly Peak can easily be paired with their tasty food. Try the Bear Paw Porter with a chocolate dessert or Urban War Bear IPA with a cheesy, wood-fired pizza. And save room for the polenta fries and cheddar ale soup.

Grizzly Peak remains a solid, reliable brewpub in an increasingly crowded scene. Olympic champion Greg Louganis once said that, in sports, people reach their peak very early. Happily, that is not true in brewing, and we have much to look forward to from Grizzly Peak!

 

Photography: Erik Smith

Ashley's

For the past six years, Ashley’s of Westland has hosted it’s Belgian Beer Week, serving only beer brewed in Belgium over an eleven day period. In 2015, they added the North American Belgian Beer Festival and this year are adding a second ‘festival within a festival’ by hosting the Ultimate Funk Beer Fest.

Friday February 12 is the inaugural Ultimate Funk Beer Fest. This event will feature more than 120 beers from 60 breweries in 8 countries. The featured styles will include lambics, gueuzes, Berliner weisses, goses, Flemish red ales, oud bruins, wood-aged ales, rauchbiers, and more. Beers aged in bourbon barrels will be well represented as well, with stouts, quadrupels, Scotch ales, barleywines, and other styles making an appearance.

“As we evolve to ‘Craft Beer 2.0,’ brew enthusiasts are seeking the next big thing,” said Roy More, co-owner of Ashley’s. “American consumers are just now really beginning to discover sour and other funky ales that are in reality based on centuries-old styles. Many are blended and aged for years in oaken barrels, called foeders, before being ready for release like fine wines. The resulting beers are often delicately complex and a rewarding experience for those who have cultivated a taste for them.”

“Since 1983, Ashley’s has existed to help people have a good time and discover new tastes,” said More. “This inaugural Funk Beer Fest is in line with our mission of expanding our guests’ experiences in new ways.”

Saturday February 13 sees the return on the North American Belgian Beer Festival, the country’s largest Belgian-only beer event. The event is sponsored by the Consulate General of Belgium/Flanders Investment and Trade, a partnership that blossomed at last year’s inaugural event.

As many as one thousand attendees will be able to sample more than 220 beers from the more than 80 Belgian breweries represented.

“You would have to go to Belgium to find this many Belgian beers in one place,” said Xavier Van Honsebrouck, fifth generation owner of Van Honsebrouck brewery in Ingelmunster, Belgium — who attended the 2015 festival and plans to attend again this year.

Belgium is recognized by many experts as one of the world’s top beer nations, with Belgian brewers creating more recognized styles of beer per capita than any other country.

“This event showcases exclusively craft beers brewed in Belgium,” said Luc Strybol, head of the economic mission of Flanders. “There will be breweries that trace their roots back a thousand years, breweries that have been owned by the same family for over a hundred years, and others that just formed in the past few years.”

Festival attendees will also have the chance to pair the many unique specialty and boutique brews with a menu of Belgian-inspired “cuisine à la bière.” Brewers and other Belgian beer experts will be on hand to help educate and guide guests through the amazing diversity and complexity of the Belgian beer world.

Due to the success of the last year’s festival, the 2016 event will take place in an expanded, heated tent next to Ashley’s. It will include several educational sampling sessions that cover the history of Belgian brewing, the Trappist monasteries that make beers, and beer blending. New this year is a VIP suite within the festival that will include a private Belgian-inspired buffet as well as exclusive samples.

“To address the growing interest among beer drinkers, many American craft brewers are making their interpretation of Belgian beers,” said Roy More, co-owner of Ashley’s. “This festival offers guests the opportunity to try the originals.” More, along with co-owner and brother Jeff, are frequent visitors to Belgium, where they were both knighted last fall by the Belgian Brewer’s Guild in recognition of their support of the Belgian beer industry.

Tickets for both events are available online at the following links-

Ultimate Funk Fest- www.ashleys.com/events.xhtml

North American Belgian Beer Festival- www.nabbf.org/registration.

Ann Arbor Distilling

Ann Arbor, MI–One of the great things about modern society is that it gives people a chance to remake themselves, to be what they want to be. The same could be said for buildings. Take 220 Felch Street, located in the Water Hill neighborhood in Ann Arbor. It was built as a fuel oil storage for Amoco in 1924. At other times in its life, it has been a bicycle shop called Cycle Cellar, Kaufman Studios, Ann Arbor Art Center studios, the Pot & Box, and the Daily Grind Flour Mill, which provided the grain for the Wildflour Bakery. Grains are back at the location today, but in the form of distilled beverages.

Last year, Ari Sussman and his partner/co-owner Rob Cleveland opened the Ann Arbor Distilling Company at 220 Felch Street. The tasting room provides thirsty patrons with vodka and gin straight up or in the form of craft cocktails. More alcohol is on the way.

Ann Arbor Distilling

“We make whiskey constantly,” Sussman said. “The earliest batches will be available in early summer, with releases continuing after that.” Sussman said that it can take anywhere from 18 months to more than three years to make a good whiskey. “Most folks are used to the Kentucky style of whiskey, because it’s what they are used to. That takes three years, usually longer. But if you want a different profile in your whiskey, you can do it in less time. It all depends on the character you are trying to achieve.” Sussman has found craft distilleries across the country releasing products that compare favorably to legacy brands of whiskey.

Sussman is no stranger to good liquor made from good products. In his early 20s, he spent time in France working with wine and brandy makers. When he returned to Michigan, he found that no one was making spirits. “Some winemakers made some brandy on the side, but that was it,” he said.

To familiarize himself with the products he had made in France, Sussman bartended at some of the finest places in Ann Arbor: Zanzibar, eve the restaurant, and the Raven’s Club. “The entire time I bartended,” Sussman said. “I had it in the back of my mind to get into manufacturing.”

Then Sussman received a life changing opportunity—to work at the Michigan State University Distillery. He worked with students in the program, and with Kris Berglund, the professor who founded the program. (The program is part of MSU’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and still provides product and process development consulting for people who want to start distilling operations.) “I was able to learn from the best,” Sussman said of Professor Berglund. After three years, Sussman worked his way up to head distiller.

Now, he is head distiller at his own place. “The more you learn about the distilling regions in the world,” Sussman said. “The more you realize that Michigan is one of the best places for it.” About 90% of his ingredients are local because “we can’t find better product anywhere else– it happens that they are all available locally.” The products used include the cereal grains, apples, and grapes.

All of this alcohol is created on two stills, custom made in Germany. They are designed to be able to make any product from the base ingredients.

“The raw ingredients go in and whiskey, brandy, vodka, gin, rum, and so on is what will come out.”

And the alcohol is flowing out! The cocktail menu includes a Moscow Mule, Pomegranate Fizz, Ginger Gimlet, and Seasonal Shrub. Recently, the distillers use Mighty Good coffee to make a coffee liqueur for their White Russians. Sussman said that they are actively looking for snacks that will help highlight the spirits and pair well with the cocktails.

The future of the Ann Arbor Distilling Company is as bright as the gleam on the stills. “People are going to be pleasantly surprised by the quality of spirits that can be made from local ingredients,” Sussman smiles. The old Daily Grind grain mill is long gone—but the grains shine on at 220 Felch Street.

Folks can try the cocktails and spirits Tuesday-Saturday from 4:00-10:00.

Photography: Steph Harding

arbor brewing

In college, the beer began to flow on Thursday evenings. But I got older, and figured that Thursdays belonged to the young’uns. Then I moved to Ann Arbor, and discovered Arbor Brewing Company’s (ABC) monthly beer tastings. And for a long time, a certain Thursday each month belonged to them. The schedule of styles repeated every year, but the different beers and tasty buffet were enough to keep me coming back. But then I got busy, and figured I had probably tried most of the beers in the cycle, so I left Thursdays to the young folk once again.

To paraphrase a better writer than me, these Thursdays are a’changing. ABC is unveiling a new look to both the brewpub and to its Thursday tastings. Event Manager Elizabeth Cain-Toth says, “The Beer Tastings have been amazing over the past decade! We felt like it was time to revitalize the tastings along with the revitalization of the brewpub and menu. Offering different styles of beers relating to each theme will hopefully offer a fresh and enjoyable experience for both new and long-standing participants.”

On the second Thursday of each month, attendees will journey through the wonderful world of beer via a style of the month:

  • February: For the Love of Hops
  • March: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb (sessions or high gravity—nothing in between)
  • April: Foolishness (outlandish adjuncts)
  • May: Old World Ales & Lagers
  • June: Summer Solstice (summer beers)
  • July: Made in Michigan
  • August: Think Global, Drink Local (breweries committed to sustainability)
  • September: Fall Favorites
  • October: Spooky Scary (names inspired by monsters, etc.)
  • November: Wild Winter (funky, tart, tangy beers)
  • December: Home for the Holidays (winter beers)

What can we expect on the second Thursday in February? Co-owner Rene Greff says, “We are always looking for things that guests will find interesting – sometimes because they are new brands, sometimes amazing historic brands, sometimes just a really interesting twist on a style.” She adds that the tastings in February “will go beyond IPAs.”

The party kicks off on February 10 at 7:00pm and tickets are still $25 in advance and $30 the day of. There will still be a buffet, a door prize drawings and, surely, plenty of calls for “SOCIAL” drinks. Back to drinking on Thursdays for me!

ANN ARBOR – Since the 1300s, the Union of Belgian Brewers has existed as guild for Belgian breweries. It still exists today as one of the oldest professional associations, and nearly all Belgian breweries belong to it. On Sept. 4, the Union will ennoble founders and co-owners Roy More and Jeff More of Ashley’s Restaurants as honorary Knights of the Union of Belgian Brewers at its annual ceremony in Brussels, Belgium.

Those who are dubbed into the Knighthood of the Brewer’s Mash Staff (“Ridderschap van de Roerstok der Browers”) are recognized as having made significant contributions to the promotion and development of Belgian Brewing. Roy and Jeff More will be the first in Michigan to receive the honor.

In addition to being widely acknowledged as a premier beer bar, Ashley’s has participated diversely in promoting Belgian beer for decades. Every February, Ashley’s Westland location hosts the largest exclusively Belgian-made beer festival in the U.S. Both Ashley’s locations offer a full range of Belgian-made beers as part of their craft beer portfolio.

“Ashley’s first started serving Belgian beers in 1985, and we held our first Belgian beer sampling event in 1988,” said Jeff More.

“Ashley’s has always been about helping people have a great time,” said Roy More. “One of the ways is through great beers, and the Belgian brewers are recognized as being among the best in the world.”

The knighting ceremony will be held in the Brussels Town Hall on the Grote Markt (“Grand Place”) next to the Union building, which has been occupied by the Union since the 17th century.

Photo: Erik Smith

Photo: Erik Smith