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Grand Rapids, Mich. – Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales has made its way to Beer City USA. The original proprietor of barrel-aged sour ales will open its sixth pub concept – Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery-Grand Rapids – 11 a.m. Thursday, March 22.

“Grand Rapids is a craft beer mecca, and we’re honored to finally establish a presence for our barrel-aged sour beer,” said Ron Jeffries, Jolly Pumpkin president and master brewer. “We’re looking forward to meeting our new neighbors and raising a glass together.”

Located at 428 Bridge St. N.W., the 5,000 square foot location will feature a bar with more than 30 pours on tap, indoor and outdoor seating and an urban, rustic vibe. Featuring a casual order-and-eat approach, patrons place their orders at a cash register and take a seat at a table of their choosing where a staff member delivers their meal. Large picnic tables set the scene for communal dining to encourage conversation and create a vibrant, welcoming experience.

The interior of Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria and Brewery calls attention to both the shipping and brewing side of the business by incorporating wood pallets and barrels into its design. Giant oak barrels can be found throughout the brewpub – inspired by Jeffries’ open fermentation barrel-aged brew process, while reclaimed wood pallets cover the location’s walls from floor to ceiling, contributing to the brewery’s warm, inviting atmosphere.

The Grand Rapids brewpub features a wide variety of sour brew selections, from year-round favorites like Bam Biere and La Roja to seasonals like Noel de Calabaza and La Parcela. For non-sour beer fans, a selection of craft beers brewed in Michigan from Jolly Pumpkin’s partners at Northern United Brewing Co. are also available, including North Peak Beer, Nomad Ciders, Bonafide Wines and Civilized Spirits.  

Hungry patrons will love Jolly Pumpkin’s menu, packed with artisan dishes crafted to compliment the brewery’s signature artisan ales. The Grand Rapids menu features a selection of artisan pizzas, signature sandwiches, appetizers and salads, from the other Jolly Pumpkin locations as well as a couple items available exclusively in Beer City USA. Some popular favorites include:

  • Farro & Brussels Salad featuring shaved Brussels sprouts, kale, farro, dried cranberries, feta cheese and roasted almonds served with whole grain mustard vinaigrette
  • Fried Chicken Sandwich served with sesame cilantro slaw, turmeric aioli, sriracha and spicy pickles on a sriracha roll
  • Bridge Street Vegan Pizza topped with roasted red pepper hummus, basil pesto, balsamic roasted vegetables and kale chips

“High quality ingredients is the secret to our delicious dishes,” said Neal Crawford, general manager. “We’re committed to sourcing only the freshest ingredients and locally produced whenever possible. In fact, we’re proud to be working with Grand Rapids’ own Field and Fire Bakery for our breads and Louise Earl Butcher for meat.”

For more than a decade, Jolly Pumpkin has brewed its signature barrel-aged, sour ales for the enjoyment of beer enthusiasts around the world. Established in 2004 by co-founders Ron and Laurie Jeffries, the pair set out to create something different – the first craft brewery to foray a line of all barrel-aged sour ales.

While Jolly Pumpkin beers start out the same as other traditional brews – mashing, boiling and fermenting – the sour ale enthusiasts put a funky twist on the maturation step, placing all its brews into oak barrels where the beer ages to perfection. In the oak barrels, the beer’s flavor profile sours, taking on the unique bitter notes and character that make Jolly Pumpkin so iconic.

“Each of our pours are one-of-a-kind, hand-blended creations that constantly inspire us to push forward and find new unique tastes and flavors,” Jeffries said.

Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria and Brewery is located 428 Bridge St. N.W. in Grand Rapids, Mich. The pizzeria will operate with normal business hours from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

About Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales and restaurants

Established in 2004 and based in Dexter, Mich., Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales is widely recognized as the first craft beer brand to foray into a line of all-sour barrel-aged ales. The brand is distributed nationwide and available at the brewery’s five restaurant concepts in Michigan and one pizzeria and brewery in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Each location features a unique selection of artisan pizzas, fresh salads, handcrafted sandwiches, appetizers and coveted truffle fries. For more information visit www.jollypumpkin.com or call 734-426-4962. Connect with Jolly Pumpkin on Facebook (@JollyPumpkin), Twitter (@JollyPumpkin), and Instagram (@JollyPumpkin).

 

nomad ciderTraverse City, Mich— North Peak Brewing Company and Peninsula Cellars have joined forces to create a new joint venture on Old Mission Peninsula. Consistent with the quality and excellence these companies are known for, Nomad Cidery has launched a line of hard ciders in Northern Michigan. Located on Kroupa Farms, a certified Michigan Centennial Farm on Old Mission Peninsula, the cidery focuses on creating small batch ciders from regionally sourced ingredients.

“We’re fortunate to be able to source multiple apple varieties within 5 miles of our press and cidery,” shares John Kroupa, Nomad Cidery partner and sixth generation Old Mission Farmer. “We’re able to craft high quality cider made with all Northern Michigan ingredients. The local orchards and agricultural industry of Traverse City, allow us to create 100% pure cider, without having to rely on concentrates.”

You might recognize the name ‘Nomad’ as the cider first made an appearance in North Peak Brewing Company’s portfolio. The sister company to North Peak was launched to give the cider the dedicated attention the brand deserved. Initially the company will focus on producing distinctly dry ciders that will be available on draft only, with plans for 6-packs to be released at a later date.

Nomad’s premium ciders are available throughout Northern Michigan. Currently they can be found at North Peak, Jolly Pumpkin, and Blue Tractor in Traverse City. As well as at Peninsula Cellars on Old Mission Peninsula.

 

traverse city beer week

Typically, November in Northern Michigan means dark skies before 6:00 p.m., shorter business hours, and an exodus of summer and fall visitors. However, Traverse City Beer Week keeps the area energized with a wide array of special events meant to highlight the creativity and successes of the Traverse City beer scene. This year’s Traverse City Beer Week took place from November 11-17, and contained over 50 events.

tcbeerweek-2

And while Traverse City Beer Week might attract some outside visitors, it is also a great opportunity for locals to enjoy their hometown before winter settles in. With special tastings, exclusive tappings, and unique pairings, it is easy to find a quick stop after work or enjoy an evening out with friends.

This year, The Little Fleet held a different themed event each night of the week. Monday was Founders Bingo. It was free to play, and various Founders brews were on tap, including some exclusive free samples. The Founders rep was also on site to call numbers and give away prizes.  

On Tuesday, The Little Fleet hosted a rare release from Lagunitas, a world premiere of Slow Tako from Brewery Vivant on Wednesday, a sour beer night on Thursday, and a Seafood Dinner on Friday.

Most of these events were casual, making it easy to stop in after work for something special. For instance, Sour Beer Night featured sour beers on tap from various breweries, including Jolly Pumpkin, Short’s, and various cellar exclusives. The weather was warm enough to sit outside, which made an exclusive beer after work even more enjoyable.

Other breweries and taprooms throughout downtown held similar style events. Rare Bird Brewpub hosted a Founders and Dark Horse Tap Jam. Upon walking into Rare Bird, it appeared to be an average evening. However, with a closer look, brewery reps were giving away swag and taps featured an equal selection of Founders and Dark Horse brews. Founders KBS was on tap, as well as Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse. This was only the second time that the barrel aged version of Plead The 5th Imperial Stout had been on tap in Traverse City.

7 Monks Taproom has become known for its unique pairings and themed events during Traverse City Beer Week. This year, the taproom dedicated an evening to Traverse City’s brewing history. The Filling Station brewed a historically inspired Kratochvil Bohemian Pilsner to be a featured tap for the evening, and a large beer history timeline was on display. So, with a pilsner in hand, many visited with friends during happy hour while also examining the timeline. The timeline featured artifacts, maps, and interesting information regarding some of Traverse City’s first breweries.

Traverse City, MI—Northern United Brewing Company, parent company to North Peak and Jolly Pumpkin, is pleased to announce a yearlong sponsorship with TART Trails, a Traverse City non-profit organization that works to enrich the Traverse region by providing a network of trails, bikeways and pedestrian ways; and encouraging their use. Since 1998 TART Trails has provided this region with world-class trails linking people to the beauty of the Traverse area year round.

The sponsorship is part of North Peak and Jolly Pumpkin’s dedication to Traverse City and it’s up north, outdoors lifestyle.  “The sponsorship just made sense to us, says Northern United Brewing Company partner Jon Carlson, “several of our staff members are die-hard outdoor enthusiasts who actively use the TART Trails for running, biking, and cross country skiing. We also see the trail system has a pivotal asset to this community. Not only are the trails used for outdoor recreation but they serve as a sustainable means of transportation for the area.”

“TART Trails is thrilled to be North Peak and Jolly Pumpkin’s nonprofit partner for the year. Northern United Brewing appreciates our efforts to make the Grand Traverse region a better place to live, work and play in all seasons.” Pam Darling, Development Director.

Throughout the year the breweries will help raise awareness of TART Trails and play a key role in several of their year-round events and initiatives.  Recently, Jolly Pumpkin hosted their annual Fall Pumpkin Pedal; a free organized group ride on Old Mission Peninsula with donations benefited TART Trails. The past two Pumpkin Pedal events have raised over $2300 for Tart Trails.

Up next this year will be a TART Trails Happy Hour at North Peak on Tuesday November 29 for the National Day of Giving. North Peak will match any donations made to Tart Trails on that day, up to $2500.

tart trails

Northern United Brewing Co. encompasses the North Peak, Jolly Pumpkin and Grizzly Peak craft beer brands, as well as Nomad Cidery, Civilized Spirits, and Bonafide Wines. NUBC’s philosophy focuses on a dedication to conservation, inspiration and locally sustainable practices. Find NUBC products at stores, restaurants, and bars all throughout Michigan, including: North Peak Brewing Company, Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin Brewery, all in Traverse City; Jolly Pumpkin and Grizzly Peak, in Ann Arbor.

 

jolly pumpkin

Chicago, IL—Jolly Pumpkin is heading across Lake Michigan to open a new restaurant and bar in Chicago.  Jolly Pumpkin has announced it will be opening a location in Hyde Park, near the University of Chicago, in 2017.  The 5,800-square-foot restaurant will serve craft beers, distilled spirits, and wines available through the Northern United Brewing Company (NUBC) brand – including Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, North Peak Brewing Company, Nomad Cidery, Civilized Spirit and Bonafide Wines, as well as a full pub menu.

“We’re excited to expand our restaurants outside of Michigan,” says NUBC partner Ron Jeffries. “Hyde Park is the perfect location for us, the vibrant neighborhood shares an eclectic vibe with that of our company and Chicago’s craft beer scene parallels some of the greatest in the US.”

Jolly Pumpkin will be located at Harper Court, a 12-story University of Chicago office tower with retail on the ground level. “There has long been community interest in having a pub-style restaurant at Harper Court,” said James Hennessy, the University’s associate vice president for commercial real estate. “The addition of Jolly Pumpkin will enhance Hyde Park’s growing reputation as a new dining destination in Chicago while introducing a brewery to the neighborhood.”

This will be the fourth restaurant in the Jolly Pumpkin portfolio. The original being in Traverse City, followed by a downtown café in Ann Arbor, and a casual eatery in Midtown Detroit. While Jolly Pumpkin restaurants are known for their namesake sour barrel-aged beers, each location features a distinctive menu and identity.

Jolly Pumpkin Hyde Park will be a casual 30-plus tap bar with walk-up ordering service, indoor and outdoor seating. A unique bar will offer patrons a variety of draft beer and cider, as well as featured craft cocktails and wine. One beer that is sure to be featured on tap is Jolly Pumpkin’s Oro de Calabaza, an Artisan Golden Ale that the New York Times named the #1 Belgian Beer in the World in 2010.

As with all its locations, Jolly Pumpkin will be working with local purveyors in developing its menu.  While the restaurant will offer a menu all its own, it will include some iconic Jolly Pumpkin favorites like the JP Burger, truffle fries, the Perfect Chicken Sandwich, and artisan pizzas.

Located at 5251 S. Harper/1504 E. Harper Court, Chicago IL 60615, Jolly Pumpkin will be opening in late spring / early summer 2017.

Jolly Pumpkin is part of Northern United Brewing Co., which also encompasses the Grizzly Peak and North Peak craft beer brands, as well as Nomad Cidery, Civilized Spirits and Bonafide Wines. NUBC’s philosophy focuses on a dedication to conservation, inspiration and locally sustainable practices.

 

jolly pumpkin

Zwanze Day is a fictitious holiday created by Jean Van Roy, owner and brewmaster of Brasserie Cantillon. His intention is to celebrate and honor the playful spirit of the people of the Flanders region in Belgium, where the word “zwanze” describes a good-natured type of humor.

Each year Van Roy blends a batch of a special lambic creation and bestows a keg of it upon locations deemed suitable. There may be no better place on earth for such an honor than Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in Dexter, where whimsy is an ingredient in each brew.

This year, only 60 locations throughout the world were chosen to participate. Each one tapped their keg simultaneously, coinciding with Cantillon’s tapping in Brussels which equated to 3 p.m. in our Eastern Time Zone. A toast was made with Ron and Laurie Jeffries, the duo driving the success of the hosting business. It was the first time any place in Michigan had been given the opportunity to host the event. With some luck it won’t be the last, but not all event sites are chosen for repeats in subsequent years.

Perhaps the outstanding efforts of the staff of Jolly Pumpkin, and distributor Mike Turriff of M4 CIC, will be rewarded again. They curated a world-class festival unlike any other location fortunate enough to land a celebratory keg. The brewery grounds hosted a nearly full capacity crowd, in spite of some unexpected backlash over the price of admission. Aficionados who were willing and able to invest in attending had access to over 50 beers from more than 20 breweries rarely, if ever, found in Michigan.

Good weather held out in spite of the dark clouds on the skyline and occasional threatening rumbles of thunder. Smiles and good attitudes were found all around. “I think it’s probably one of the most well run beer fests I’ve been to, with a great low-key crowd,” said Courtney Satko. She decided to attend after weighing the financial cost of her ticket with the benefits, ultimately figuring the proceeds being given to the Feelgood Tap project was worth it as much as the beer selection was.jolly pumpkin

Executive Director of Feelgood Tap, Stephen Roginson, was happy to participate and generate awareness of what his charity does with the funds raised. It began in-house at Batch Brewing Company in March 2015 as a partnership with the Multiple Sclerosis Society to do work that was near and dear to Roginson, a founder of Batch, whose mother battles MS. Since receiving their 501(c)(3) status less than one year ago, the project has evolved to support a different cause each month and has attracted involvement from nearly 30 establishments that host a dedicated tap. “This is the first time that we’ve partnered on an event,” said Roginson. The charity’s recipient for the month of October, including Zwanze Day, will be the Michigan Humane Society.

According to Cantillon’s van Roy, this year’s Zwanze beer is a two-year-old Lambic aged on a mix of 82% raspberries, 18% blueberries, and .05% bourbon vanilla beans at a rate of 300 grams of fruit per liter. That’s approximately 10.5 ounces of fruit in 32 ounces of Lambic when converted to American standard measurements, a generous and expensive endeavor that resulted in a luscious deep pink beer that pleased the palates of guests.

Laurie Jeffries, Brewery Director at Jolly Pumpkin, said her husband Ron “mentioned to Shelton Brothers a few years ago that it’d be really cool to get a Zwanze Day, and he just put it out to the universe. We got notification earlier this year that there was a possibility; that we were on the list.” In August they were notified they were definitely a selected location, but it wasn’t clear there would be enough beer to send a keg until a few weeks before the big event. Luckily it was allocated to them and arrived along with four more of Cantillon’s coveted beers.

jolly pumpkin

Ron Jeffries, whose title at Jolly Pumpkin is Chief Squeegee Operator/Brewer, can’t recall when he had his first Cantillon, but remembers it was not at all what he was expecting. Eventually he met Jean Van Roy at a Shelton Brothers festival and “was so starstruck I couldn’t talk. I could barely smile, swallow, and nod. Seeing him blending last year (at the festival), I was literally blown away by his blending skills and palate. I blend beers almost every day and was just floored. He’s a master, without a doubt. For him to choose us as one of the 60 places in the world to serve this special Zwanze beer is a huge honor for me personally,” he said.

Similar to Ron Jeffries’ respect for Jean Van Roy, Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company founder Jonathan Buford expressed his admiration for Jeffries. “Ron’s cool and Ron likes us, and you run with that when Ron likes you! You just do. It’s like the cheerleader in high school you don’t know why she likes you but you’re gonna like her back. If she invites you to a party you go with her,” he quipped when explaining their long trek from Gilbert, half an hour southeast of Phoenix. The two also met at a Shelton Brothers festival, but it wasn’t until a second encounter at Anchorage Brewing Company‘s Culmination event that they bonded. Patrick Ware, partner and brewer, said it happened when Buford blurted out “I hope I never see you again” to Jeffries as they parted and instead of being offended he turned around and told him it was one of the funniest things he had ever heard. Buford admits he doesn’t know where the idea to say that came from but he’s glad it happened. “He appreciates people who don’t take this too seriously, like him,” he speculated.

Revelry Brewing Company of Charleston, South Carolina is setting their sights on eventually producing enough beer to distribute in Michigan. For Jay Daratony, Revelry’s “janitor”, participating in Zwanze Day at Jolly Pumpkin was a homecoming of sorts. He’s originally from Dexter and still has family in the area.

Head brewer Ryan Coker spoke about their new barrel cellar coming online soon with up to 300 barrels and 12 foeders that will hopefully increase production to a point where they can share it here.

jolly pumpkin

“We want to do it (distribute) in the right pockets I guess so to speak, put it in the right hands,” he said, implying Michigan beer lovers are capable of appreciating it.

The Revelry crew enjoyed their visit for Zwanze Day. Coker joked “What’s cool about Dexter is I had a checklist and it was to catch a fish, ride a horse, shoot a gun, and drive a four-wheeler, and I checked all the boxes today and still made it to the beer fest on time!” Sean Fleming, a Revelry partner, added “This is fun, it’s a total honor for us.”

That’s a sentiment shared by nearly everyone who was fortunate enough to be present for the first of what many hope will become an annual tradition in Dexter.

 

Photography: Steph Harding

jolly pumpkin

Zwanze Day is a fictitious holiday created by Jean Van Roy, owner and brewmaster of Brasserie Cantillon. His intention is to celebrate and honor the playful spirit of the people of the Flanders region in Belgium, where the word “zwanze” describes a good-natured type of humor.
Each year Van Roy blends a batch of a special lambic creation and bestows a keg of it upon locations deemed suitable. There may be no better place on earth for such an honor than Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in Dexter, where whimsy is an ingredient in each brew.


This year, only 60 locations throughout the world were chosen to participate. Each one tapped their keg simultaneously, coinciding with Cantillon’s tapping in Brussels which equated to 3 p.m. in our Eastern Time Zone. A toast was made with Ron and Laurie Jeffries, the duo driving the success of the hosting business. It was the first time any place in Michigan had been given the opportunity to host the event. With some luck it won’t be the last, but not all event sites are chosen for repeats in subsequent years.
Perhaps the outstanding efforts of the staff of Jolly Pumpkin, and distributor Mike Turriff of M4 CIC, will be rewarded again. They curated a world-class festival unlike any other location fortunate enough to land a celebratory keg. The brewery grounds hosted a nearly full capacity crowd, in spite of some unexpected backlash over the price of admission. Aficionados who were willing and able to invest in attending had access to over 50 beers from more than 20 breweries rarely, if ever, found in Michigan.

Good weather held out in spite of the dark clouds on the skyline and occasional threatening rumbles of thunder. Smiles and good attitudes were found all around. “I think it’s probably one of the most well run beer fests I’ve been to, with a great low-key crowd,” said Courtney Satko. She decided to attend after weighing the financial cost of her ticket with the benefits, ultimately figuring the proceeds being given to the Feelgood Tap project was worth it as much as the beer selection was.jolly pumpkin
Executive Director of Feelgood Tap, Stephen Roginson, was happy to participate and generate awareness of what his charity does with the funds raised. It began in-house at Batch Brewing Company in March 2015 as a partnership with the Multiple Sclerosis Society to do work that was near and dear to Roginson, a founder of Batch, whose mother battles MS. Since receiving their 501(c)(3) status less than one year ago, the project has evolved to support a different cause each month and has attracted involvement from nearly 30 establishments that host a dedicated tap. “This is the first time that we’ve partnered on an event,” said Roginson. The charity’s recipient for the month of October, including Zwanze Day, will be the Michigan Humane Society.
According to Cantillon’s van Roy, this year’s Zwanze beer is a two-year-old Lambic aged on a mix of 82% raspberries, 18% blueberries, and .05% bourbon vanilla beans at a rate of 300 grams of fruit per liter. That’s approximately 10.5 ounces of fruit in 32 ounces of Lambic when converted to American standard measurements, a generous and expensive endeavor that resulted in a luscious deep pink beer that pleased the palates of guests.
Laurie Jeffries, Brewery Director at Jolly Pumpkin, said her husband Ron “mentioned to Shelton Brothers a few years ago that it’d be really cool to get a Zwanze Day, and he just put it out to the universe. We got notification earlier this year that there was a possibility; that we were on the list.” In August they were notified they were definitely a selected location, but it wasn’t clear there would be enough beer to send a keg until a few weeks before the big event. Luckily it was allocated to them and arrived along with four more of Cantillon’s coveted beers.
jolly pumpkin
Ron Jeffries, whose title at Jolly Pumpkin is Chief Squeegee Operator/Brewer, can’t recall when he had his first Cantillon, but remembers it was not at all what he was expecting. Eventually he met Jean Van Roy at a Shelton Brothers festival and “was so starstruck I couldn’t talk. I could barely smile, swallow, and nod. Seeing him blending last year (at the festival), I was literally blown away by his blending skills and palate. I blend beers almost every day and was just floored. He’s a master, without a doubt. For him to choose us as one of the 60 places in the world to serve this special Zwanze beer is a huge honor for me personally,” he said.
Similar to Ron Jeffries’ respect for Jean Van Roy, Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company founder Jonathan Buford expressed his admiration for Jeffries. “Ron’s cool and Ron likes us, and you run with that when Ron likes you! You just do. It’s like the cheerleader in high school you don’t know why she likes you but you’re gonna like her back. If she invites you to a party you go with her,” he quipped when explaining their long trek from Gilbert, half an hour southeast of Phoenix. The two also met at a Shelton Brothers festival, but it wasn’t until a second encounter at Anchorage Brewing Company‘s Culmination event that they bonded. Patrick Ware, partner and brewer, said it happened when Buford blurted out “I hope I never see you again” to Jeffries as they parted and instead of being offended he turned around and told him it was one of the funniest things he had ever heard. Buford admits he doesn’t know where the idea to say that came from but he’s glad it happened. “He appreciates people who don’t take this too seriously, like him,” he speculated.

Revelry Brewing Company of Charleston, South Carolina is setting their sights on eventually producing enough beer to distribute in Michigan. For Jay Daratony, Revelry’s “janitor”, participating in Zwanze Day at Jolly Pumpkin was a homecoming of sorts. He’s originally from Dexter and still has family in the area.
Head brewer Ryan Coker spoke about their new barrel cellar coming online soon with up to 300 barrels and 12 foeders that will hopefully increase production to a point where they can share it here.
jolly pumpkin
“We want to do it (distribute) in the right pockets I guess so to speak, put it in the right hands,” he said, implying Michigan beer lovers are capable of appreciating it.
The Revelry crew enjoyed their visit for Zwanze Day. Coker joked “What’s cool about Dexter is I had a checklist and it was to catch a fish, ride a horse, shoot a gun, and drive a four-wheeler, and I checked all the boxes today and still made it to the beer fest on time!” Sean Fleming, a Revelry partner, added “This is fun, it’s a total honor for us.”
That’s a sentiment shared by nearly everyone who was fortunate enough to be present for the first of what many hope will become an annual tradition in Dexter.
 
Photography: Steph Harding

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


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