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Story by Tom Demay. Photos by Jay Vaughn unless otherwise noted.
I consider myself a beer connoisseur — some may even call me a beer snob. Mass-produced, watery, tasteless beer holds no appeal for me. Fortunately, the craft beer movement has exploded and we are in a veritable beer renaissance, so there's never a need to settle for so-so suds.
According to the Brewers Association, the U.S. now boasts 1,790 breweries, 81 of which are located throughout Michigan, placing our state among the top five producers in the nation.
If you're in the Detroit area, you don't have to venture far to enjoy Michigan's best. Top-rated neighborhood breweries and outstanding local joints are serving up a huge variety of flavors, styles and quantities of amazing beer. So grab a pint glass, a sense of adventure and an ambitious palate, and come along for a quick beer tour.
Big Rock Chophouse, Birmingham
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Ann Arbor
Liberty Street Brewing Company, Plymouth
Greenfield Village, Dearborn
Kuhnhenn Brewing Company, Warren
Clarkston Union, Clarkston
Foran's Grand Trunk Pub, Detroit
The Berkley Front
The French Laundry
The Shark Club
Ye Olde Tap Room
Tashmoo Biergarten, Detroit
Select Sundays in Sept. and Oct.
For five Sundays in September and October, local residents and beer lovers band together to open the Tashmoo Biergarten — an open-air, European-style beer garden in the heart of Detroit's historic West Village neighborhood. The event features beer from several local breweries and munchies from local food vendors. Top it all off with a picnic area and outdoor games, and a great time is guaranteed. More info is available at www.tashmoodetroit.com.
Fall Beer Festival, Eastern Market, Detroit
Oct. 27, 2012
At the heart of the Michigan craft beer movement is the Michigan Brewers Guild, which holds quarterly beerfests at various locations across the state. Metro Detroit is fortunate to host two of the four, including downtown's Fall Beer Festival, usually held in Eastern Market as well as the Summer Beer Festival (July 27-28) in Ypsilanti.
Grab tickets early because the festival features a veritable who's who of Michigan craft brewers. Many patrons come decked out in what is quickly becoming the quintessential beerfest outfit — outrageous hats, pretzel necklaces and, of course, big smiles.
For the $35 entrance fee, visitors receive a 4-ounce tasting cup and a baggie full of tokens redeemable for beer. For more information and' to purchase tickets, head over to' www.mbgmash.org.
Tom DeMay, partner at Octane Design, production house of Visit Detroit, loves craft brew so much that he recently traveled thousands of miles to attend San Francisco Beer Week so he could get his hands on one of the holy grails of the craft beer scene, Pliny the Younger made by the Russian River Brewing Company.
Ale Sharpton is an award-winning journalist and world-renowned beer expert who writes for various publications, including The Beer Connoisseur magazine, Men's Book and on his website, alesharpton.com. Visit Detroit heard through the grapevine that Sharpton had recently been to the Motor City, so we asked him if he would contribute a few brew-lovin' words about the metro Detroit beer scene.
Since my first visit to Detroit in early 2011 after a 20-year hiatus (forgive me!), I have been back three times due to its hospitable residents, my family who lives there and, truthfully, its unique, diverse and extraordinary places to enjoy the best beverage in the world — beer. I have no problem proudly stating that Michigan is one of the top five states for hosting phenomenal breweries, including Short's, Jolly Pumpkin, Founders and Bell's, to name a few. When I am blessed with the opportunity to consume some of their fantastic creations — especially those I have no access to in my Atlanta hometown — the feeling is heavenly.
I recommend at least five musts to visit in the Motor City:
Slows Bar BQ
Motor City Brewing Works and Traffic Jam and Snug
Motor City Tour Company
Follow Ale Sharpton on Twitter via
Looking to purchase beer to take back home with you? Here's some of the area's top picks:
19610 Middlebelt Road
Livonia, 48152 GN
Champane's Wine Cellars
7007 Chicago Road
Warren, 48092 M
Cloverleaf Fine Wine and Spirits
711 S. Main St.
Royal Oak, 48067 O
1203 S. Main St.
Royal Oak, 48067 O
Merchant's Fine Wine
22250 Michigan Ave.
Dearborn, 48124 DW
View What's Brewing in a larger map
Big Rock Chophouse
Clarkston Union Bar & Kitchen
Foran's Grand Trunk Pub
Greenfield Village The Eagle Tavern
Kuhnhenn Brewing Co.
Liberty Street Brewing Company
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Schedule your own guided bike tour and learn about (and taste) Detroit’s brewing past and present. $35/person, 10-person minimum; bike rentals available.
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