Breweries

257. Urbanrest Brewing Company – July 7, 2017 – Ferndale, MI

20170707_190418 (2)20170707_190413 (3)Nestled in a residential-ish area about a half-mile north of downtown Ferndale is Urbanrest Brewing Company, a brewery that opened a few months ago. I visited it only about a week after it opened to sip some TGIF- themed brews with a few friends.

Housed in what looks to be a former industrial building, the interior of Urbanrest emanates those chill, industrial-chic vibes that so many recently-opened Detroit-area restaurants have got going on (Phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes-brandishing-reclaimed-wood-and-exposed-ductwork is kind of our thing around here. I dig it.). It’s welcoming and homey, with flowers in glass-bottle vases on the tables, a cluster of comfy chairs here, a pool table there. And board games! Board games and beer are pretty much a match made in heaven, in my opinion.

During my visit, I tried a sampler of the pale ale, porter, and saison that were on the menu at the time; all of them were delicious. I’m obviously sorely lacking on details as to how they tasted (this visit being two months ago and my knowledge of beer being rudimentary). But I can confidently share that the place garnered my beer connoisseur friend’s seal of approval – and she knows her stuffs.

I need to go back to Urbanrest and try some of its kombucha. I’m no kombucha expert, either (I’ve drank it once in my life), but the Jasmine Jun Kombucha, described on the menu on Urbanrest’s website as “Jasmine green tea fermented with local wildflower honey,” sounds phenomenal. And at only .5% alcohol by volume, it’s a great choice if you’re looking to keep it sober-ish, because you’d have to drink like a dozen of those to match the alcohol content in one of Urbanrest’s beers (helpful tidbit to know, right?).

Urbanrest doesn’t have a full food menu, but it offers some charcuterie boards, and its website says that food trucks regularly come through, and who doesn’t love the whimsy of ordering from a food truck?

Worth noting: the Urbanrest taproom is only open Thursdays through Sundays (check its website for hours).

2615 Wolcott Ave.

Ferndale, MI 48220

www.urbanrest.com

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238. Fillmore 13 – March 24, 2017 – Pontiac, MI

20170324_165022 (2)20170324_171159 (2)20170324_182615 (2)Hey guys! I’m so glad to be back on the blog with a post here today – finally! The last few weeks were a little cray-cray-ba-nay-nay as I helped to plan and throw a dear friend’s shower and caught up on life stuffs. I like to remind myself that a busy life is a good life but am glad things have calmed down a bit so I can get on here and share with you the awesome places I’ve visited over the last few weeks, such as the recently opened Fillmore 13 Brewery in downtown Pontiac.

So can I say that I’m kind of obsessed with downtown Pontiac right now? It’s really looking awesome! Not only is there a Slow’s To-Go down there and the excellent Exferimentation Brewing Company, there’s this great new brewery called Fillmore 13. I am loving its down-to-earth, industrial-chic vibes, welcoming demeanor, and delicious craft brews and grub.

During my Friday happy hour visit (which is obvi the best time of the week EVER to visit a bar – TGIF-style!), the friendly, attentive bartender let my friend and I try a few of the beers before we made our choices. I settled on a four-sampler paddle of the chocolate stout, apricot Belgian ale, hazelnut porter, and saison pale ale. I loved them all, especially the apricot (a refreshing, perfect-for-warm-weather brew!) and the hazelnut.

Food-wise, I got the BBQ Sidewinder Nachos, which are basically the epitome of drinking eats. They’re these crispy potato wedges cut in this curlicue-type shape and doused in beer-infused nacho cheese, sour cream, green onions, and glorious barbecued pulled pork – YESSSSSS.  That is happiness balm for the stomach and spirit right there.

What I like about Fillmore 13’s food menu is that they’ve got the typical bar fare such as those Sidewinder Nachos and chicken wings and pretzels and cheese plus more sophisticated offerings. Most bars don’t have, say, an artisan cheese platter; a charcuterie tray; a pizza topped with prosciutto, goat cheese, and arugula; or sandwiches named Turkey Brie. But Fillmore 13 does. And I love that. Because I adore a luscious, straight-up dive-bar sandwich, but I also love a pulled pork topped with green-apple coleslaw and nestled on a brioche bun. There’s enough room in the world for all the choices, right?

7 N. Saginaw St.

Pontiac, MI 48342

www.fillmore13brewery.com

213. Exferimentation Brewing Company – December 3, 2016 – Pontiac, MI

exfer3-2exfer2OK, it’s officially-officially winter now here in the D. We got a bucket of snow dumped on us Sunday night – over 9.5 inches in my neck of the woods! Consequently, I was in hibernation mode this weekend as I anticipated and then witnessed the storm. But I still have my trip to Exferimentation Brewing Company from the weekend before last to report on. 🙂

The craft brewery is nestled in downtown Pontiac, which I was pleasantly surprised to discover is in the midst of a revitalization period. I worked in Pontiac for a few years back in the late ’00s, when it was, to put it tactfully, not exactly a destination. But now new businesses such as Exferimentation are cropping up, including a Slow’s Bar BQ outpost (!) and another couple of breweries. It’s exciting to see a long-stagnant area experience growth. Pontiac, you deserve it!

I became kind of obsessed with Exferimentation while I was there. I mean, look at it: the interior set-up is basically that of a coffee shop, but instead of coffee, there is beer! I love the cozy furniture that is scattered around in addition to the long tables incorporating repurposed doors, many with handles still attached, as their top surface. I entertain the idea of visiting solo with a book, kicking back in one of those plush leather chairs, and enjoying a pint of the Spicy Bloody Rosemary served in a beaker (Exferimentation has the science theme going in both its logo and glassware). It was equally as enjoyable to sit there with a group and sip beer and play one of the available games.

By the way, that Spicy Bloody Rosemary beer is great. It has a nice kick to it heat-wise, as the name suggests – as does the Dragon Piss, which has more of a DAMN! kick to it. I also sampled the Pink Tickler hibiscus beer, one of the lighter beers, and that was quite good, as well. What I really need to go back and try is the Tres Winery. It’s a Belgian beer infused with pinot noir, my favorite wine. How about kicking back with a pint of that and an absorbing novel on a snowy winter’s night? Sounds perfect.

7 N Saginaw St.

Pontiac, MI 48342

www.exferimentationbrewing.com

191. Dragonmead Microbrewery – September 24, 2016 – Warren, MI

20160924_19062020160924_192537Dragonmead! I’ve been wanting to visit the joint since the beginnings of this blog. It only took me two and a half years to get there!

The Warren brewery that makes its own beer, wine, and mead lived up to the hype that had been created in my head. The pint of its Redwing Raspberry Wheat I 0rdered was INCREDIBLE – definitely the best raspberry wheat I’ve ever had. You could tell by the scent and taste of it that real raspberries were used. I also enjoyed my glass of Gewürztraminer wine; it was crisp and tart. And the pizza! The Fat Drunk pizza, topped with Cajun sausage and caramelized onions and slathered with an addictive cheddar bacon cheese sauce, was out-of-control good. It was the perfect drinking accompaniment.

Shout-out to the beer flight at Dragonmead, as well! The flight shown in the photo above is the one that my friend ordered. The five samples were generous pours and only cost around $10.

My conclusion? Dragonmead is an excellent brewery and a perfect fall destination for all of you fellow Metro-Detroiters or visitors of our fine area. Happy drinking!

14600 E. 11 Mile Rd.

Warren, MI 48089

www.dragonmead.com

146. ROAK – October 3, 2015 – Royal Oak, MI

ROAKROAK opened its doors in Royal Oak this July. Another Michigan craft brewery! Is anyone going to complain? I don’t know about you guys, but I’m loving the craft beer explosion, and I’m not even the biggest beer drinker. But I’m slowly becoming more and more of one from tasting all of the unique and delicious local craft beer offerings. So if you’re like me, you’re going to want to add ROAK to your list. It’s somewhat off the beaten path of downtown Royal Oak, in a large, what looks to be former warehouse building on Lincoln St. The beer menu is currently small but mighty – six mainstay beers and two seasonal ones in all of the core varieties you are looking for: dark ale, IPA, Belgian witbier, etc. And it’s not all about the beer – pizza, salad, appetizers, and paninis are also served. But my favorite part of ROAK is that it is committed to giving to local charitable organizations. Proceeds of its Devil Dog oatmeal stout (named after World War II soldier dogs) are given to Detroit’s veterans’ hospital, and it has been regularly partnering with other area charities such as The Michigan Humane Society, as well. Yay to growlers, grub, and goodwill!

330 E Lincoln Ave
Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.roakbrewing.com

 

141. Brew Detroit – September 26, 2015 – Detroit, MI

Brew Detroit Beer

Photo courtesy of J. Otto

I loved Brew Detroit! The tasting room is a cavernous space with an industrial vibe – spare bulb lighting and furniture made out of packing crates. It was slow the Saturday afternoon we were there; there were just a few of us huddled around the center bar area. The bartender was very cool; he explained to us that while the tasting room is relatively new, Brew Detroit is actually the third largest brewer in Michigan. In addition to brewing its own small-batch creations served in its tasting room, other businesses contract it to make some of their recipes (Atwater Brewery and Kid Rock’s Badass Beer are two of its notable clients).

Brew Detroit chalkboard

One interesting fact about Brew Detroit’s beers; not only are they brewed in small batches, but if I understood correctly, none of the beers served there are ever made again beyond the first batch (about five kegs’ worth, the bartender told us) that is created. That makes for a lot of variety! The bummer: if you like a beer, you’re not likely to see it the next time you’re back, so grab a growler and take that sucker home! The above photo is of the chalkboard above the bar showing the beers on tap during my visit.. I tried a pint each of Experimental Batch #2 (a saison flavored with lavender and chamomile) and Tootsie (a blonde infused with vanilla beans and cacao nibs – phenomenal!).

1401 Abbott St.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.brewdetroit.com

132. Batch Brewing Company – July 12, 2015 – Detroit, MI

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On a lovely Sunday afternoon earlier this month, I and some friends went to check out Batch Brewing Company and an event called Stop Drop and Detroit: Boards and Beers Edition put on by Citizen’s Yoga, Brooklyn Outdoor, and j’adore Detroit, an amazing Detroit-centric WordPress blog that I follow and that made me hip to this super-fun event. It was an afternoon of delish micro-brews and silly hijinks (we played Uno Dare! – imagine that coupled with alcohol). There were various boards game strewn across the bar tables, and it was great to see the place full of people having fun and interacting with each other. And to eat homemade pretzels! You’ve gotta try the fresh homemade soft pretzels with beer-cheese fondue and beer-infused mustard – yuummmmmm.

After a few hours of drinking and gaming, we went to Green Dot Stables and gobbled a couple of sliders there. That place, like Batch, was crowded. It warmed my little heart to see Detroit full of life on a Sunday that wasn’t a game day (the Tigers were out of town that weekend). I think the ghost-town days that used to characterize so many weekends when a major event wasn’t scheduled down there are, thankfully, a thing of the past. 🙂

1400 Porter St.

Detroit, MI 48216

http://www.batchbrewingcompany.com

128. Atwater Brewery – June 20, 2015 – Detroit, MI

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I’d heard so many people praise Atwater Brewery and its beer over the years that I was really excited to visit it. Wow, is this place really utilizing the space as it is! Atwater Brewery basically entails a large warehouse that the beer is brewed in with a bar counter and a bunch of tables thrown in amongst it, off to the side. So you’re right there by pallets of beer boxes and brewing equipment and can see way back there into the bowels of the place and look at all the additional equipment and whatnot (and there is a lot of whatnot) that is located back there. It’s an interesting set-up, but I can appreciate the ability to use a space for more than one purpose; it’s a smart business move, and it makes Atwater stand out.

I would really like to check out Atwater’s Grosse Pointe Park location, Atwater in the Park, which is located in a gorgeous old church and offers both food and drink (the Detroit location doesn’t offer food). It looks right up my alley! Not that visiting Atwater Brewery wasn’t enjoyable to me; it was rather the kind of experience very well-suited to a Detroit Day of exploration.

237 Joseph Campau St.

Detroit, MI 48207

www.atwaterbeer.com

126. Jolly Pumpkin – June 20, 2015 – Detroit, MI

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I struggled, as I did when I visited Ashley’s in Westland back in November, with whether I should include Detroit’s Jolly Pumpkin as a new place on my blog, because I have already been multiple times to the Ann Arbor location. But as with Ashley’s, I ultimately decided to see the recently opened Detroit location of JP as its own entity. Yes, it’s got the same name and brand and is owned by the same people, but it has its own distinct look and setup, and the food menu also looks to be more extensive (I NEED to go back and eat there – the pizzas look amazing!). That’s the wonderful thing about most local chains – I wouldn’t even call most of them chains, just brands with several locations – they are not cookie-cutter. They adapt the aura of their surroundings, and the Detroit Jolly Pumpkin is decidedly Midtown. It’s a gorgeous facility, with this great rustic-slash-urban-industrial, renewed-Detroit feel to it (locals, you know the vibe I’m talking about – it’s lovely and refreshing!). Spending time in the city extensively Saturday, enjoying it and watching other people enjoy it, felt so uplifting. A rebirth is totally happening down there, for real! I feel grateful to live in the proximity of this unique, diverse place and to get to witness its transformation. I can’t wait to do down to there again for the Tigers game this Sunday and to enjoy it some more.

So, total confession: I was sacrilegious and didn’t get one of Jolly Pumpkin’s renowned sour beers. But that’s ok, because they’ve got some signature cocktails, too, and I discovered they are pretty amazing! Admittedly, I am one of those people who likes to get a cocktail just because it is unusual-sounding: the weirder, the better. I’ll run the risk of a drink tasting horrible just to drink something different. At JP, I ordered the Rita Hayworth, which contains chipotle cherry agave tequila. It had quite a smoky flavor that took some getting used to, but the more I drank it, the more it grew on me (it didn’t hurt that it was pretty strong!). Sitting there at the picnic tables, people-watching and enjoying the company of my friend as I sipped a craft cocktail on a Saturday afternoon, it was like, this is it. This is summer in Michigan. This is what being alive is all about!

441 W. Canfield

Detroit, MI 48201

http://www.jollypumpkin.com

125. Traffic Jam and Snug – June 20, 2015 – Detroit, MI

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Frida and Diego sidewalk portraits recently added outside the restaurant entrance

I had a Detroit Day today! And it was amazing. Five new places were visited! The first stop: Traffic Jam and Snug, which I’ve wanted to visit forever. Man, is it old-school looking in there! I didn’t expect it. Bedecked with antique knick-knacks, the windy wood-and-brick interior reminds you – like so many other places in the city – how grandly old Detroit is. But where the inside of the restaurant is old-fashioned-looking, the menu certainly isn’t. Cheers to eclectic offerings such as coconut curry risotto and an amazingly delicious barbecue braised beef brisket panini (try it – you won’t be sorry!) being served rather than the usual rote restaurant fare. The popular Midtown establishment is also a brewery – I had no idea!

511 W. Canfield

Detroit, MI 48201

http://www.trafficjamdetroit.com