Monday, June 6, 2011

Cruisin' For A Brewsin': Detroit, Michigan

Ale kicks it in Detroit aka The Motor City aka The D aka Motown aka...
A flight of brews from the Detroit Beer Co.


It is now the first weekend of June and after traveling to Detroit, MI, and then heading to Gatineau, Quebec for their first Beer Festival along with visits to some awesome brew spots throughout the region, I finally had a chance to reflect (and update my blog!). I came to one conclusion: Was May a damn blur or what? 

Regarding beer, it certainly made the month blast by and I have plenty of photos that captured some of the moments. From Atlanta’s Food & Wine Festival where I was a panelist with three extremely successful bloggers in the world of culinary arts, to kickin’ it in Detroit, celebrating American Craft Beer Week, and a ton of other cool happenings, I’ve missed you guys but I am back!

First up is Motown. Detroit has taken a beating through the years from the decline of particularly the auto industry during the recession, but it is now coming from the ground swinging with companies like Ford and GM starting to kick ass again. Truthfully, the Motor City still has a ways to go, but its loyal citizens will not back down. 

Of course, I hit up the hot spots for brews including Slows Bar B Q, Motor City Brewing, Traffic Jam & Snug, Atwater Block BrewingGrand Trunk Pub, Tigers' Comerica Ballpark and Detroit Brewing Co., so I had to show you what I experienced. Everyone likes pictures, right? Well here ya go! If you want to see these in slideshow format (plus a couple of extra shots) just go here. (If it goes too fast, press on the "+" sign at the bottom to slow it down.) I like to give options, ya heard?

(Above) Here are three ales from the Detroit Beer Co., brewed by Kevin Rodger. This Hartz Building restoration is a perfect mix of rustic and contemporary; its bar boasts at least eight variations on tap regularly. This was a cool spot. I got a growler to share with the rest of the journalists. We had a ball that night!

This cat's name is Jon and he knows a sh*tload about the beer scene in Detroit. Check out how we met: I walked into one of the best pubs in Motor City just after midnight called Grand Trunk that my homey and Detroit native Damali knew about. They were about to close and he was tending the bar. He looked at me, said I looked familiar, and then he put it together. He said, "You're Ale Sharpton!" I was really trippin' because I never met him before but he knew me from Beer Connoisseur Magazine. How cool is that? He kept the bar open for an extra hour and had me sample everything on the menu. It was an awesome time I will never forget! The Dark Horse Reserve Special Black Ale at 7.5% was my favorite for the evening; a smooth, potent sipper with notes of fig and chocolate under the "strong black ale" categorization.

A hip neighborhood joint called Slows Bar B Q opened in 2005 and has since become one of the D's most popular eateries, specializing in various American styles of BBQ, a rustic vibe and, most importantly, an awesome tap selection that features primarily Michigan brewed ales and lagers. Their waffle fries with cheese were on point so I had to show them some love! Definitely come here if you want to get a true Michigan beer tour without leaving your stool.

Dopplebocks are coming back with a vengeance and Atwater Block Brewery, the most successful brewery in Detroit, has the VooDoo Vator complete with haunting packaging to continue their reign. It's pretty damn good at 8.5%. I also tried their strong Teufel Bock and their Belgian-style Dirty Blonde witbier is kicking major ass in the D.
This is the man on the right who runs the show at Atwater Block Brewery, Mark Rieth, is super cool and passionate about what a does. This is a must for any successful head honcho of a brewing empire. Although Atwater Block specializes in lagers, they have a great selection of ales as well. Keep doing your thing, Mark!
How "sweet" of a welcome is this? I stayed at the world-class hotel called The Henry Hotel, rightfully named after automotive pioneer Henry Ford. I had a growler filled with Detroit City Brewery's Hot Town Wit to keep things in perspective, but who can hate on a housemade cookie, special chocolates and a plate written with, yes, chocolate? Everything paired well with the citrusy brew, oddly enough. Good stuff!
Being a sports fanatic, I had to check out Comerica Park stadium to see the Tigers. Although my Yankees weren't playing (the Blue Jays were in town), the game was still a hit. Here are a couple of Atwater Block's brews for sale. Every team should keep it real and support their local brewers. Detroit certainly does. Bravo!
Native rocker Kid Rock teamed with Michigan Brewing Company, scored a $7 million investment, and created a lager called American Badass Beer which launched here, Comerica Park, during his concerts on July 17-18, 2010. I have yet to try it, but Kid said, "I want this to be like the beer I drink. You grab it, you share it with your friends, it's refreshing, it's cold, it gives you a good buzz. Done." At 4.2%, I am not sure how "badass" it truly is, so I passed. Not my steez, but love the marketing! Feel free to comment if you had it.

Having a design background, I appreciate anything creative with packaging, especially brews. During my tour of the Motor City Brewery, this caught my eye in their main office. I had to get a flick of this 12-pack. Love it! They also have a cool label called the "Ghetto Blaster" which kicks ass.

I was very happy with the brews that were crafted in house at Detroit staple, Traffic Jam & Snug, one of the first brewpubs in the city. Major shout outs go to head cheesemaker and brewmaster Chris Reilly, along with owner Caroline Howard. They both showed me some great Detroit hospitality and amazed me how everything from ales to cheese were made under the Snug roof. When you visit, make sure you ask them how they got that name. It's a cool story.
Oh, and talented photographer Kim Schneider hooked up this photo. It’s a great shot if I can say so myself. Thanks so much, K.S.!!! My favorite brew was the Strong Belgian wheat beer called the Bouvier Blanche at 7%, brewed with coriander and orange peel. It was obvious Mr. Reilly knows what he is doing!

Honestly, I am looking forward to getting back to Detroit. There is so much more to explore and, well, sip. 




It's three taverns' 10th Anniversary!

  Whaddup?! What I consider one of the best beer companies in the Southeast, Three Taverns , is celebrating a decade of brewing excellence...

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