After a whirlwind tour of the U.P. and the upper part of the L.P., Liz and I parted ways with my family and set off on our own to Ann Arbor. Well not really on our own, we were staying with our friend Molly. I have to say, Ann Arbor is awesome. Like, really, really awesome. At the end of our four day jaunt, Liz was ready to declare NYC as the worst city on earth and set up shop in a Midwestern college town. Here's something awesome: Ann Arbor has four, FOUR, microbreweries! We went to all of them! And I remembered to take a lot of pictures! And they all turned out super grainy because they were taken with my phone!
When we first arrived, Molly had a nice itinerary outlined for us. For our first night, we went to the place she thought had the best food and some of the best beer. So congratulations, Grizzly Peak, you have the best food out of the Ann Arbor brewpubs! And yes, the food was awesome. I had a mushroom burger which actually tasted mushroomy! Normally mushroom burgers taste like mush, but not this one, so nicely done guys. I was originally going to order just a pint, but then my own wife shamed me into ordering a flight of all nine beers. Here's a picture:
And for good measure, here's a picture of the list of beers:
After dinner and beers at Grizzly Peak, we went to the place that Molly said had the best beers in Ann Arbor, Jolly Pumpkin. They didn't have a flight option, so I was forced to discuss the beers with the waitress (figuring we were only staying for one, which actually proved to be the case). I say forced, because an uninformed server might be one of the most frustrating things on earth. Our server was super friendly, but she kept on describing every beer as "sour." And by every beer, I literally mean every beer. Our IPA is pretty sour. Our farmhouse ale has that sour taste but it's not over powering. Everything was sour. I ordered their Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere, their farmhouse ale. The waitress left and I discussed with the table how either 1) The waitress, to once again paraphrase my dad, "didn't know shit about beer," or 2) The waitress had some mental lapse and kept on saying sour instead of hoppy. Turns out I was wrong. All of their beers were legitimately sour. Sour in a good way, but sour nonetheless. So I am sorry, waitress, for doubting your descriptions. It was short sighted of me and I promise never to be crass again!
The next night we had a nice little cookout, in a backyard no less!, where I had a Bell's Amber Ale and a Bell's Two Hearted Ale. Moving on!
The next, and final, evening in Ann Arbor, we achieved what has been called by both Henry and Gerald Ford (no relation...that I know of) as the Triple Crown, hitting three breweries in a single evening. First we hit up the Ann Arbor Brewing Company. The Ann Arbor Brewing Company, or as Chris Weber called it when he went to Michigan, Randy Jackson Presents AABC, did not offer flights so I went with their Anniversary Ale, a high-ABV belgian ale. A few things about this beer. First, check out this picture of it:
That is no trick photography. That beer is really that cloudy. Ridiculously cloudy. But the thing about it? It doesn't taste it at all. From the looks of it you'd imagine it would be like drinking bread but it drank like a regular (and not all that spectacular) belgian ale. But the actual beer aside, their beer menu was divided into two parts, normal beers and strong beers. Strong beers they would only serve in 10 oz glasses because, as their menu said, they didn't want their customers to inadvertently drink too much of them and get housed. I forget the exam wording on the menu, but it came across as super patronizing. But the really funny thing? The cut off was 7.0%. Like, there was a beer on the "normal" list, which you could get a 22 oz glass of, that was 7.0%, but there were two beers on the "strong" list that were 7.5%, meaning you could only get them in 10 oz glasses. Weird and also pointless! I get that high ABV beers are generally served in smaller sizes, but don't say you're doing it to protect your customers and don't do it arbitrarily! All that aside, much like everything in Ann Arbor, AABC was pretty awesome. Also, I drank one of the ESBs, which I remember being good.
Then it was off to the 4th microbrewery, Blue Tractor. Blue Tractor is weird in that it's primarily a BBQ joint that just sort of happens to brew their own beer. And it really does seem incidental to their operation. I saw where they brewed their beer on my way to the restroom and it did seem like an after thought. Here's the picture:
At this point in the evening, the ladies were ready to pack it in. But nay, I said, nay! Molly's partner (a dood, but saying boyfriend sounds weird and Molly herself kept on referring to everyone else's boyfriends or girlfriends as his or her partner and I thought that was cool!) is a big beer fanatic and he said Jolly Pumpkin had the best beer in Ann Arbor. I didn't want to short change them, having had only one of their beers, so we went back. I had their Jolly Pumpkin Bam Noire, a super sour and super hoppy beer. It was delicious.
And so ends our Michigan trip! Since coming home, Liz has talked nonstop about wanting to move out to Ann Arbor, but it turns out that Michigan not having any jobs isn't exactly a myth. But thanks for the memories and the beer Michigan! Sorry you're broke! I'll try to help your cause by buying as much Avery beer as I can out here. Any little bit helps I guess. Tomorrow: Montreal debauchery. Then it's back to normal. We're almost there!