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7 monks

Traverse City, Mich. – Seven years ago Matt Cozzens and Jim Smolak had a dream to bring great beer and great food to Traverse City. They dreamed big, opening their craft beer bar with an almost unheard of 46 taps; wine, cider, local mead; and an ever changing bottled beer selection. Fast forward to today and 7 Monks Taproom – thrice named to Draft Magazine’s 100 Best Beer Bars in America – is celebrating a monumental anniversary.

According to co-owners Matt Cozzens and Jim Smolak, it’s time to party. And they plan to do just that on Sept. 22 as they present the “7 Monks Experience” from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Back Abbey.

“This celebration captures the best of our past 7 years of friendships created through beer,” said Cozzens.

Those friendships will be highlighted with 7 different brewery tents:

  • Short’s Brewing Company Tent featuring multiple past 7 Monks Taproom  anniversary ales/lagers plus this year’s edition; Gratitude – a hoppy farmhouse ale

  • Odd Side Ales Tent featuring the 7 Monks 7th Anniversary Dank Juice IPA

  • Local’s Tent featuring Low Bar, Filling Station and Earthen Ales

  • Schilling Beer Co./Resilience Tent featuring Travese City friends who operate these great breweries out in the White Mountains of New Hampshire

  • Trappist Tent featuring Chimay, Rochefort, and other Trappist gems

  • Founders Brewing Co. Tent

  • Left Foot Charley Winery and Tandem Ciders Tent

Taqueria Las Lagunas food truck will be on site in the Back Abbey, and Timed Tappings will take place throughout the event, including:

4 p.m.: Transient Artisan Ales (Bridgman, MI)

6 p.m.: Speciation Artisan Ales (Grand Rapids, MI)

8 p.m.: HOMES Brewery (Ann Arbor, MI)

10:30 p.m.: Mystery Tapping

No party is complete without live music, and 7 Monks is ready to serve up the best.

“We are thrilled that we will be joined by Jesse Ray and the Carolina Catfish and The Go Rounds,” said Smolak.

Tickets are $7 each and include your first pour (12 oz.) of any draft beer featured in the Back Abbey. Event tickets may be purchased by visiting 7 Monks Taproom in Traverse City or by going online to ?. Additional drink tickets will be available to purchase on-site for $5 per 12 oz. draft pour. Attendees must be 21+ to enter the Back Abbey.

 

About 7 Monks Taproom:

7 Monks Taproom is a craft beer bar and gastropub that has twice been named one of America’s Best Beer Bars by Thrillist and to Draft Magazine’s 100 Best Beer Bars in America for three consecutive years. With a heavy focus on Belgian Ales, especially Trappist beer, European ales and lagers, 7 Monks also offers a variety of wine, cider, and the best craft beers from Michigan, the United States, and the world. 7 Monks-Traverse City is located at 128 S Union St and 7 Monks-Grand Rapids. Visit them online at 7MonksTap.com.

craft draft 2 go
EDITOR’S NOTE: We are aware of the situation surrounding Craft Draft 2 Go and its co-owner Aaron VanArsdale. Due to the turbulent nature of the story, we are closing comments on this article, which originally published on July 14, 2016. However, we are happy to get feedback from our readers and invite them to email us at news@mittenbrew.com.

 

Being the first to do anything craft beer related in Kalamazoo these days is a tough proposition, but Aaron VanArsdale is pioneering an untapped market in the city with Craft Draft 2 Go, a tap room focused on packaging beer to go in either 64-ounce glass growlers or 32-ounce aluminum Crowlers.

Taking home a growler has long been a staple part of microbreweries, but prior to a state law passed in 2013 it wasn’t legal for bars in Michigan to fill growlers. When the law changed, many venues throughout the state started offering draft beer to-go, but Craft Draft 2 Go will be the first in Kalamazoo to offer a wide variety of craft beer on draft with to-go sales being the cornerstone when it opens the first week of August.

craft draft 2 go

Aaron VanArsdale

“In Cincinnati you can get a growler filled at a gas station,” said VanArsdale, who owns the bar with his business partner Shayne Sherman. “In Oregon it’s booming. In Arizona it’s booming. You can get a growler filled just about anywhere. So Kalamazoo, why not? Why has nobody done this?”

Craft Draft 2 Go will serve craft beer with a side of some serious technology. The bar uses a digital pour system so people can see in real time how much is left of each keg on their website and Facebook page. If your favorite is in the red, you should probably ask the boss to leave early that day. New tappings are announced on their Twitter feed as well.

Another innovation Craft Draft 2 Go will focus on is Crowlers, a 32-ounce can that is filled directly from the tap and sealed right at the bar, introduced by Oscar Blues Brewery in late 2013. A CO2 nozzle purges the can of oxygen immediately prior to filling and the seal prevents air penetration, keeping the beer inside fresh for longer. Currently, Rupert’s Brew House is the only other Kalamazoo establishment offering Crowlers.

“To me it was a no brainer,” VanArsdale said. “The convenience of the can is you don’t have to remember to bring it back with you and it’s recyclable. It’s up to you to recycle it, but the can is convenient to take to the golf course, take it on the boat, take it to the race track. And then when you’re done with it you don’t have to worry about breaking it.”

craftdraft2go

 

VanArsdale said he’s been working on the idea for Craft Draft 2 Go for about three years, but it started becoming reality last October when he took possession of the space at 4520 Stadium Drive in the University Commons retail center formerly housing a Radio Shack.

Inside, it’s impossible to tell Craft Draft 2 Go was a defunct electronics store less than a year ago. The black and red walls are broken up by expanses of reclaimed barnwood and sections of whiskey barrels form the bases of pendant light fixtures hanging above the bar. More reclaimed barn wood went into building the tap room’s tables, and Michigan-themed art is prevalent. Bottle caps from Michigan breweries even cover the screws securing the drink rail to the bar’s outer walls. VanArsdale, a Navy veteran, is especially proud of the prominently displayed U.S., Michigan, and Kalamazoo flags.

“You want to do it right and go big,” he said. “But sometimes when you go big you lose the little details. I wanted to focus on making sure we didn’t miss any of the little details.”

Craft Draft 2 Go seats about 50, but the bar stools stop about two-thirds of the way down the 36-foot, poured concrete-topped bar so patrons who come in for growler and Crowler fills have plenty of room and a clear view of the 50 taps, 35 to 40 of which featuring Michigan beer, VanArsdale said. He’s committed six taps to Bell’s Brewery and another four to Latitude 42 Brewing Company. Two taps are nitro capable, one of which is used to serve Michigan-sourced cold-brewed coffee, and another tap is dedicated to serving root beer from Tibbs Brewing Company.

“We’re going to have Tibbs and One Well,” VanArsdale said. “We’re always going to have some of the other proven breweries in the state of Michigan—Dark Horse, Founders, New Holland. Besides that there’s a lot of other great beer out there in different parts of America we want to bring in. People doing good beer that you don’t always see.”

While the tap room’s focus is on giving craft beer lovers the biggest selection of to-go craft beer in Kalamazoo, it also will feature some compelling reasons to stick around and sample a few brews before selecting a couple to take home. A staffed private suite with two additional dedicated taps, bringing the bar’s overall total to 52, is available. The bar will have Kill the Keg Mondays, offering discounts on tap room pours for kegs that have been going the longest, and New Tap Tuesdays celebrating whatever went on tap to replace the previous night’s casualties. They plan to spin records on monthly vinyl nights and also have a monthly Bells night.

“We want people to feel like this is their local watering hole,” VanArsdale said. “Somewhere they can come in and have a beer, have a decent conversation and forget about life for a while.”

 

Photography: Steph Harding

FERNDALE — The “terrible twos” are typically a hectic and dreadful time for most parents. Unless, of course, your child is a craft beer bar. 

One Eyed Betty’s celebrated its two-year anniversary this week by hosting a Barrel-Aged Beer Week.

With nightly tapping’s Monday through Thursday at 6 p.m., the week was chalked full of huge brews and high ABVs.

The idea is credited to Bar Manager and resident “Beer Genius” Michael Fredenburg.

“In the summertime, I was conjuring up ideas on something to do. I wanted to do a barrel-aged night, which was my original plan,” Fredenburg said. “That kind of turned into me hoarding beer enough to do a full week. So it became our birthday celebration.”

While the high-octane beers reigned supreme and some customers jokingly labeled the list “dangerous,” Owner and Operator Beth Hussey wasn’t worried.

“The people who know about these beers and appreciate them, know how to drink them,” she said.

Hussey said of the 17 beers tapped this week, many have been cellared for over a year.

“I don’t know if everyone quite understands how special some of these beers are, but we do,” Hussey said. “There are some big beauties on that list.”

The biggest beauty of them all was tapped on Thursday evening to a ravenous crowd awaiting their pours of the magical liquid known as Bell’s Bourbon Barrel-Aged Batch 9,000.

Hussey described it as “the last of its kind.” Fredenburg proclaimed it as “the star of the show.”

The keg lasted all of 21 minutes and 16 seconds.

“You don’t come across that every day. It was very, very special and we have to thank Bell’s for that,” Fredenburg said.

Other highlighted Michigan beers included Odd Side Ales Barrel Aged Citra Pale Ale and Griffin Claw Brewing Bourbon Imperial Stout. Offerings from Mt. Pleasant Brewing Company, Tri-City Brewing Company and Northville Winery also rounded out the list.

Hussey said the last two years have been “awesome” and can’t believe how much Betty’s has learned in that time.

“Now, the pressure’s on,” she said. “How do we continue to be cool and great? And be the place beer drinkers think of going for good beer?”

Although the pressure is mounting in her eyes, Hussey doesn’t want to veer too far from what’s made them successful.

“We have really high standards,” she said. “Right now, I really believe that we’re right in the sweet spot.”

Grand Rapids and Asheville, N.C., are at it again in the chase for beer supremacy.

HopCat in Grand Rapids was voted the No. 2 American Beer Bar, followed by The Thirsty Monk in Asheville, according to a poll by CraftBeer.com. There were nearly 30,000 votes cast Sept. 13-20.

The two were named BeerCity USA this summer.

“It feels awesome and gratifying,” HopCat owner Mark Sellers said. Sellers also owns Stella’s Lounge, McFadden’s Restaurant & Saloon and the soon-to-be opened Grand Rapids Brewing Company under the Barfly Ventures name.

This time, however, they both were passed by Mekong Restaurant in Richmond, Va.

It’s the fourth list, that Sellers knows of, that honors HopCat as a top beer bar. The bar was voted the third Best Beer Bar in the world by BeerAdvocate, 24th on RateBeer.com and in DRAFT Magazine’s top-50 beer bars.

DRAFT’s list is unranked.

“I’m glad we didn’t get number one, then we’d have nothing to shoot for,” Seller’s joked. “But just maintaining it, if we can stay at that level, that’s a huge accomplishment.

“It’s harder than it used to be, because there are so many new beer bars opening up.”

HopCat will hold a party on Oct. 8, following the conclusion of ArtPrize. The deal will be the same as its BeerCity party — $1.50 Michigan pints. And the bar carries between 20-25 Michigan brews at any given time.

Founders Brewing Co.’s taproom came in second place in the North Central Region, behind HopCat.

Sellers had good things to say about The Thirsty Monk in Asheville.

“It’s a great town, great bar, they definitely deserve it,” he said.

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