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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!
 

After weeks of rumblings among industry insiders, and days of speculation on social media, the news concerning potential changes at Arbor Brewing Company has been officially confirmed. Ownership is shifting, but the company’s roots will stay in Michigan.

arbor brewingArbor Brewing Company, one of Michigan’s oldest craft beer brands, has joined the Farm + Ferment family of Michigan-based hospitality businesses, that includes Michigan Hop Alliance, Northport Farms, Baia Estate Vineyard, Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina, Bacco Ristorante and Cloverleaf Fine Wine, through an acquisition by ABC Brew Holding, LLC and ABC Brew Production, LLC.

“It’s such an amazing opportunity to be able to join this group!” René Greff, a founding co-owner of ABC said. “We’ve heard nothing but good things” regarding Farm + Ferment, she added.

Farm + Ferment’s ABC Brew Holding, LLC and ABC Brew Production, LLC have acquired the membership interests of Arbor Brewing Company founders Matt and René Greff, and the other investors, in both Arbor Brewing Company, LLC and Corner Brewery, LLC, respectively, and engaged the Greffs in a 10-year agreement. Along with the business assets, ABC Brew Holding, LLC will have exclusive brand rights throughout North America. Greff Brewing Services, LLC will retain exclusive rights to Arbor Brewing Company throughout India, and the two entities will share the brand rights throughout the rest of the world.

“In an era of craft breweries being gobbled up by multi-nationals, we couldn’t be more pleased to be joining a consortium of local, independent Michigan operators representing the best of our industries,” René Greff said. “This strategic partnership will allow both the Arbor Brewing Company Brewpub and Microbrewery to continue to grow and thrive in an evolving craft beer marketplace, and it will free Matt and I up to do what we love best – promote and grow the brand here and abroad.”

According to René, the couple is planning to extend their annual stay in India next Spring to attend to the needs of the company there but will remain active and involved in Michigan as well.

“Acquiring a brewery fit perfectly with our long-term strategy,” said Mike Collins, managing principal, Farm + Ferment. “We’ve been very successful with our wine and hop businesses, and are continuing to expand the Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina brand. We were in the initial planning stages of a new brewery when we started discussions with the Greffs. We all knew right away that this was an ideal situation for everyone.”

Collins goes on to say that all current employees will remain, and ABC Brew Production, LLC has plans to expand the Ypsilanti location and eventually open additional brewpubs around the state.

Brian Tennis of Michigan Hop Alliance told MittenBrew.com “Farm and Ferment is a new entity that will focus on our hopyards, vineyards, and orchards as well as the new brewery and the winery being built in Northport.”

Tennis’ role will continues to be focusing “on our hop operations, including running the day to day Michigan Hop Alliance business. As well as overseeing our hopyards, brokering hops both foreign and domestically, and to work closely with our network of over 600 breweries around North America and Europe. I’m obviously very excited about working with everyone at ABC and will be providing the brewery with the best hops available with a stronger focus on Michigan grown ingredients.”

 

 

rat festYpsilanti, MI – Long before Arbor Brewing Company was born in 1995, owners Matt and Rene Graff earned their stripes as homebrewers. In celebration of their roots in the homebrewing community, ABC will host the sixth annual Rat Fest homebrew competition in February.

Rat Fest started as a competition between the brewery staff and members of the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild to brew 24 beers in 24 hours on just two systems. Over the course of the first two years, the event grew and the brewery opened the competition to homebrew clubs in Southeast Michigan.

This year the microbrewery has invited eight home brewing clubs to demonstrate their brewing creativity on a 10­ gallon brewing system, affectionately known as The Rat Pad. The AABG Hopheads, AABG Yeasters, Burns Park Brewing, Brighton Home Brew Club, The Brew Divas, Motor City Mashers, The Sons of Liberty and Hyperion Brew Club are each brewing four beers for the public competition.

As an added bonus, the ABC Microbrewery brew staff has come up with a challenge for the homebrewers; one of their four beers must be a sour. The result is a wide array of fantastically tart, puckering brews.

This year’s Rat Fest will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. on February 20th at Arbor Brewing CompanyMicrobrewery in Ypsilanti. Tickets are $30 in advance, or $40 at the door, and include a commemorative tasting glass, beer samples and appetizers. Tickets can be purchased in person at the microbrewery or by phone.

For more information visit their website at Arborbrewing.com

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!

The 18th Annual Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival took place at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti on Friday and Saturday. Over 100 breweries gathered to deliver 932 brews for the celebration of our state’s wildly popular beer culture.

Hot and steamy weather didn’t discourage the thousands of exuberant attendees. Shade trees and numerous water stations helped folks keep their cool as temperature soared. Thankfully, rain held off until after official festival hours on Saturday.

Lines to enter the park began forming well before the gate opening times. Enthusiast Members of the Guild gained entry to the festival grounds an hour before the rest of the crowd, giving them a head start on the high-demand specialty beers that didn’t last long.

Within mere minutes of the early opening, members had descended on the Witch’s Hat booth creating lines 50 people deep, all hoping for a shot at tasting the brewery’s coveted Night Fury Imperial Stout variations.

“On Friday they were gone within an hour,” said Nancy Haas, owning partner.

Many breweries offered up sours, goses and other unique thirst quenchers for those who wanted something lighter.

[tw-parallax image=”https://mittenbrew.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/MiSBF15-13.jpg” target=”self” lightbox=”no” ][/tw-parallax]

One Well Brewing from Kalamazoo brought a blonde jalpeño brew, Xalapa, that managed to have all the flavor and aroma of the hot pepper without the expected spicy heat. It was a surprisingly refreshing creation. Sliced jalapeños were available as garnish for those who wanted to amp it up.

“I never brew anything I know I’m not going to like,” said co-founder and brewer Chris O’Neill, who created the recipe.

His beers have gained a following, leading the company to explore expansion options less than a year after opening.

“Right now we brew four batches a week on average and we’re going to have to do more especially if we want to get into distribution. We’re already looking for expansion places,” O’Neill said.

Another intriguing strange brew was Cotton Brewing Company‘s The Cat’s Meow, a wheat beer with a subtle hint of earthy mint derived from catnip.

Arbor Brewing Company stood out from the crowd with its beer-dispensing vintage firetruck. As impressive as the restored truck’s appearance was, the real attraction for many fans was the larger than usual list of sour beer offerings. Velvet Hammer 9, usually only available at the microbrewery one day a year, was served to those who were quick enough to score it during the timed releases.

DETROIT — On Oct. 17, eateries and watering holes throughout the Motor City embarked on an 11-day celebration of Michigan craft beer as part of Detroit Beer Week.

Festivities, including food and drink specials, tap-takeovers, special menus and more, all led up to the main event — the weekend’s Detroit Fall Beer Festival.

One of this year’s highlights was Thursday’s four-course beer pairing dinner celebrating Arbor Brewing Company India, held at Woodbridge Pub.

ABC India is one of the latest projects from husband and wife team Matt and Rene Greff, who own Arbor Brewing Company in Ann Arbor and Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti.

In 2009, University of Michigan graduate Gaurav Sikka approached the Greffs about the possibility of bringing ABC’s craft beer back to his hometown of Bangalore, India. After visiting India for research, the couple entered into a joint venture with Gaurav, and helped create India’s first American craft brewery, ABC India, which opened to the public in 2012.

Although ABC India serves American pub food, the beer dinner at Woodbridge featured Indian-inspired vegetarian dishes, each paired with one of ABC’s popular beers. The Greffs were also on hand at the event to talk about their breweries and discuss some of the items on the menu.

Course One: Manchurian Cauliflower and Bollywood Blonde

Based on the popular Indo-Chinese dish Gobi Manchurian, the first course was a fried cauliflower appetizer tossed in a spicy Manchurian sauce and garnished with green onion.

“I fell in love with Gobi Manchurian on our first trip to India,” said Matt Greff. “[Woodbridge Pub] did an absolutely incredible job.”

Its seasoning complemented the Bollywood Blonde, which is spiced with orange peel and coriander. The beer was also a fitting homage in both name and flavor to ABC India.

Course Two: Asian Crunch Salad with Violin Monster

The second course was a crispy cabbage and noodle salad with arugula, bell peppers and apple slices in a beer dressing.

The salad was light and refreshing, while the beer was a little more complex.

Weighing in at 9.5% ABV, Violin Monster is a strong dark, spiced ale brewed with Midnight Wheat and a hint of brown sugar.

“We did four pilot batches and it just blew our expectations out of the water,” said Matt Greff.

Greff explained that the Violin Monster is named after an Ann Arbor street performer who plays the violin while wearing a werewolf mask. The performer, who collaborated with ABC on the beer, wanted to create something that personified duality, horror and romance among other concepts.

The beer was an immediate success upon release this fall, and the Greffs had to bring some of their own stash to share with Woodbridge patrons for the dinner.

“It sold out two months faster than we thought it would,” said Matt Greff.

Course Three: Breaded Paneer Marinara with Ypsi Gypsi Pale Ale

The main course of the evening was seasoned paneer cheese with a light Bayou breading, fried and served over Spanish rice topped with marinara sauce. Ypsi Gypsi — a light, citrusy American pale ale — paired well with  the rich creaminess of the cheese.

Course Four: Curried Black Rice Pudding and Espresso Love Breakfast Stout

The final dish of the night was a light, mildly sweet black rice pudding that was perfectly paired with ABC’s full-bodied Espresso Love Breakfast Stout. The beer is brewed with 100 percent fair-trade coffee from the Ugly Mug Café and Roastery in Ypsilanti.

With a rich coffee flavor and hints of chocolate, it was a great ending to a very well-executed meal.

For more information on ABC or ABC India, visit www.arborbrewing.com. For more information on Woodbridge Pub, visit www.woodbridgepub.com.

7.5% ABV, Bottle

Appearance: Opaque dark brown, with a thick, tan, slow dissipating head.
Aroma: Bitter, roasty and chocolate notes.
Taste: Follows the aroma, with balanced notes of bitter coffee plus roasted and chocolate malts.
Mouthfeel: Medium-heavy bodied, chalky and dry up front with a smooth bittersweet finish.

“All I wanna do is drink beer for breakfast,” sang The Replacements, and had it existed back in the day, Espresso Love might have been top of the menu for Paul Westerberg and company. Arbor puts all the best breakfast foods together — 20 pounds of coffee from a local café, oatmeal, and dark malts — to deliver a smooth, extremely well balanced brew that is deceptively strong at 7.5% ABV, making it good as both a pick-me-up and a put-me-down.


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