Craft Beer

414. Cøllect – June 29, 2019 – Detroit, MI

June2019Collect1 (2)June2019Collect2 (2)During the last weekend in June, I went on a blast of a superhero-themed bike bar crawl (nothing like cycling with a posse of Power Rangers!). Cøllect was our first stop on that jaunt.

We started on our bikes at Cullen Plaza, riding the Dequindre Cut to the Eastern Market area and the bar, which resides above its sister restaurant, Gather.

Cøllect’s focus is craft beers, many of which are locally made. It’s got 14 beers on tap, plus bottled and canned varieties. It also offers cider, mead, kombucha, and red and white wines for those who aren’t into the ales and lagers, according to its website – and if those options still don’t suffice, you can bring cocktails from Gather up to Cøllect (nice!). Gather’s food menu is also available to order at Cøllect.

During my group’s visit, we ordered drinks at the bar and took them up to Cøllect’s rooftop patio, which offers picturesque views of the city. The beer I enjoyed there was delicious, a chocolatey stout, though I can’t recall its name or who made it. I do recall that the bartender on duty at Cøllect was cool about answering my questions and offering samples.

Other rad aspects of Cøllect: it serves free popcorn (LOVE!). And while food isn’t allowed on the rooftop patio, if you do want to munch on that free popcorn or Gather’s grub, the good news is that Cøllect’s main interior is a beautiful space, bright and airy with its white walls, blonde plank floors, and smatterings of potted plants and vases of flowers. Not bad digs from which to savor one of those well-curated brews!

1454 Gratiot Ave., 2nd Fl.

Detroit, MI 48207

(Closed Mondays)

www.gatherdetroit.com/cllect

342. Baffin Brewing Company – June 23, 2018 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

June2018Baffin1 (2)June2018Baffin3 (2)It’s time to recount leg two of my recent Saint Clair Shores-based brewery tour! Readers of 100 Places in the D, welcome Baffin Brewing Company to the blog!

This brewery tour was admittedly more of a jaunt: a friend and I visited Jamex Brewing Company for the first time and then continued with Baffin Brewing Company on Jefferson Avenue north of 10 Mile Road. But it’s summer, the season for grand adventures, so why not envision a two-brewery-tour as an epic production? When visiting such delightful brewhouses as these two, it’s not hard to do!

Baffin came onto my radar after frequently passing it during my travels around Saint Clair Shores. I’d assumed it had opened within the last year because that’s when I started to notice it and was surprised to recently discover that it opened in early 2015 (Wow, how did I miss that???).

It was obvious that the general Metro-Detroit population had been hip to Baffin for longer than I had: the place was PACKED during the Saturday evening of my visit. It was standing-room-only for us initially.

We approached the bar, preparing to wait for one of the bartenders to notice us, and were pleasantly surprised when a staff member roaming the floor approached us to collect our drink orders. The promptness of being greeted and the convenience of not having to vie for the busy bartenders’ attention made an instant positive impression on me. Well played, Baffin!

I wanted to order a flight so I could sample four of Baffin’s brews, but I was worried about having to juggle the flight paddle whilst standing sans tabletop. The bartender convinced me that I simply had to hold the wooden paddle with the glasses hanging off of it level with one hand so I could select and sample with the other. Sold!

I scanned Baffin’s bar-side menu chalked with its current offerings and decided to try the Mango Unchained IPA, Citra Unchained IPA, Porter De Rosey (a porter infused with rose hips) and James Van Der Kriek (a Belgian brewed with cherry and honey). Then I balanced that flight paddle as carefully as I could and started sampling.

As the sipping and savoring of the brews ensued, I quickly discovered that I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED all of them! All four incorporated fruit and were incredibly drinkable. The Porter De Rosey, that rich, smooth brew infused with the floral flavor of the rose hips, was especially compelling to me.

(BTW, I’m loving Baffin’s beer titles that play off of celebrity names – here’s looking at you, Porter De Rosey, James Van Der Kriek, and Barley Rae Jepsen!)

Eventually, my friend and I no longer had to stand and juggle our beers, because some kind souls who were perched around a barrel fashioned as a table got up to leave and encouraged us to grab it. We sat down, and it was then that we fixated on another one of Baffin’s selling points: the free popcorn.

FREE POPCORN!!! If I wasn’t already in love with Baffin at this point, I most certainly was after discovering the cart of complimentary kernels from which you can serve yourself basketfuls (popcorn is kind of LIFE to me).

Summing up this visit, I can confidently declare: Baffin Brewing Company, leg two of my Saint Clair Shores-based brewery tour, you are AWESOMENESS with your friendly service and your flavorful brews and that sweet, sweet free popcorn. I can’t wait to revisit you!

25113 Jefferson Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48081

www.baffinbrewing.com

341. Jamex Brewing Company – June 23, 2018 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

June2018Jamex2 (2)June2018Jamex1 (2)East Side brewery tour! That’s what one Saturday in late June was for me and my pal Jaclyn after a spontaneous drop-in to Josef’s European Pastry Shop of Grosse Pointe Woods.

I should clarify: this East Side brewery tour was specifically a Saint Clair Shores-based brewery tour. Jamex Brewing Company on Harper Avenue south of Nine Mile Road was our starting point.

The place was hopping with a late-afternoon crowd, including several canines (because Jamex allows dogs!). I immediately dug its welcoming vibe and décor (industrial-chic, with a most stunning turquoise-and-copper-mottled bar counter. Can I get that counter installed in my kitchen, please???).

The female bartender who served us was friendly and conversational, explaining the brewery’s background (it was opened last year by a husband-and-wife entrepreneurial duo who love beer), how often new brews are developed and rotated in (fairly regularly; new recipes are constantly in the works), and how public reception has been (overwhelmingly positive).

As we sat and chatted with her, I tried flight-sized sampler glasses of three of Jamex’s wares: the Joe Blonde (described on the chalkboard menu posted above the bar as a “blonde coffee cream ale”), Bubbalicious IPA, and Harvey Milk dark beer. I enjoyed all of them, especially the Bubbalicious with its fruity flavor and the Harvey Milk with its creamy, stout-esque consistency and hint of sweetness.

My conclusion from leg one of the Saint Clair Shores brewery tour: Jamex is definitely worth a revisit! In perusing its website today, I got excited to see all three beers I tried last month advertised as still on tap. I’d love to go back and savor those or the Lemon Drop brew (intriguing!) currently labeled as “on deck.”

21721 Harper Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

www.jamexbrewing.com

304. 8° Plato Beer Company – January 15, 2018 – Detroit, MI

January2018Plato1 (3)January2018Plato3 (2)8º Plato Beer Company is in the house today!

I’d long been curious about this beer store in the Cass Corridor neighborhood of Detroit, and after lunch at Red Dunn a few weeks ago, my ale-aficionado friend and I stumbled across it and decided to give it a go.

All I can say is Holy Hops! there is a lot of beer here. I mean, obvi, it is a beer store – and it’s a good one, its shelves being stocked with popular local craft ales and ciders and more obscure (at least from my novice perspective) brews from around the globe. Beer-related merchandise such as t-shirts and snacks are offered, as well. A multitude of brews are on tap, too, so it can act as your growler filling station, and there’s a bar counter so you can sit and enjoy a pint in-house.

We decided to cozy up to that bar rail to kill an hour tucked away from the swirling snowscape outside the window and reality in general. (Spending time downtown characteristically has this whimsical effect on me, where I feel like I’m escaping oft-mundane everyday life when I hang out there. It is pretty magical there compared with cookie-cutter-chain-establishment-littered suburbia.).

While we were sitting there, the friendly bartender offered us samples of two sour beers that had recently come in, the names of which totally slip my mind. I do remember that the draft pint I enjoyed was Cheboygan Brewing Co.’s Blood Orange Honey, one of the many Michigan craft brews on draft.

I’m all about lauding the Mitten-made products, so I’m happy that 8º Plato Beer Company is yet another local outlet helping to hype them up. And bonus: the store has another location, on Nine Mile Road in Ferndale.

3409 Cass Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

http://8degreesplato.com

266. Michigan Beer Growler Co. – August 12, 2017 – Beverly Hills, MI

20170812_150804 (2)20170812_14585020170812_135214My time in the city of Beverly Hills on a Saturday this past August continued after lunch at the Beverly Hills Grill with a visit to Michigan Beer Growler Co.

This tiny establishment located in a strip mall is – DRUM ROLL – a “growler filling station”! It’s got 26 craft beers on tap (plus a couple of hard ciders and craft sodas thrown in for good measure). You can bring in your own growler or buy 32-ounce and 64-ounce bottles at the station and carry away your fave brews to enjoy on the go (well, not literally on the go – you know what I mean).

I’d never heard the term “growler filling station” before perusing Michigan Beer Growler Co.’s website, but the concept of one has captured my imagination. I’m nowhere near a beer aficionado, but I like the idea of a place that gives beer lovers an excuse to discover, geek out over, and collect in one place their fave craft brews so they can share them with other beer lovers. It just seems fun. (Hmm, maybe it reminds me at a metaphorical level of how I’m discovering, geeking out over, and collecting local establishments on this blog?)  I also love that most of the beers featured here are from Michigan-based breweries. Brews from New Holland, Right Brain, Batch, Arbor, and Odd Side graced the chalkboard line-up during my visit.

While Michigan Beer Growler Co. brands itself as a growler filling station and peddler of beer- and/or Michigan-related products (such as t-shirts, pretzels, popcorn, and water bottles) rather than a bar, you can order flights and pints of the selections on draft to enjoy in-house. There is seating at the counter, at a few interior tables, and on a tiny patio abutting the parking lot. We sat on that little terrace, and I enjoyed a pint of the New Holland Lost Dune blueberry ale (I’ll never tire of berry-infused beer), while my friend sampled multiple beers via a flight (I have no memory now of which ones she got, but they were probably all IPAs because they are her jam).

Worth noting: Michigan Beer Growler Co. is open seven days a week, but the hours are limited on Mondays (it’s open from 3-8 p.m.) and Sundays (12-6 p.m.). The rest of the week, it opens at 11 and closes at either 8 or 9 p.m. depending on the day.

31221 Southfield Rd.

Beverly Hills, MI 48025

www.michiganbeergrowlerco.com

215. Parker’s Hilltop Brewery – December 17, 2016 – Clarkston, MI

20161217_205118Hello, all! HAPPY 2017!!!!

The new year is here, bursting with potential. Novel experiences and explorations await!

I cannot wait to hit the city this January. I’ll be down in the D at least a couple of times in the next few weeks, seeing Beautiful: A Carole King Musical at the Fisher Theatre next weekend and watching my beloved Red Wings play during my possibly last visit to The Joe a few weeks after that. But before all of that transpires, I have loads of December visits to recount. Expect posts on some awesome shops in Plymouth and an Italian restaurant in Auburn Hills that served the best eggplant parmesan I’ve ever had. But today, it’s all about Parker’s Hilltop Brewery in Clarkston.

OK, I’ve gotta admit, I’m a little short on opinions around this brewery, since I didn’t eat any of its food or drink any of its craft beers during my visit (red wine was calling me!). But my beer-aficionado friend has been here several times and enjoys Parker’s Hilltop’s brews. A variety are offered, many with fun names such as Mr. Hockey Irish Red and Cowabunga Dude! Double IPA. All I can really confidently state is that I enjoyed the industrial ambiance and locally-inspired artwork on the walls, including portraits of lauded Detroit musicians (Jack White, Aretha Franklin, Eminem). And ambiance is a good chunk of what makes for a great bar experience, right?

If any of you visit or have visited Parker’s Hilltop Brewery, feel free to post your feedback on it in the comments field below to elaborate on this vague post. I’d be curious to see what you thought of it!

6110 Dixie Hwy.

Clarkston, MI 48346

www.hilltopbrew.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

176. Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. – May 14, 2016 – Clinton Township, MI

Hello, all! I have missed this blog so! Life has been rather crazy lately for me, and I miss my writing and exploring. But I am carving out some time today to talk about one of the awesome places I have visited in the Metro-D within the last month and a half, Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. in Clinton Township. The brewery has a Warren taproom, as well – which I totally forgot about until my friends were calling me saying they were inside the bar and asking where I was – and I wasn’t seeing them. Yeah . . . they were in Warren. Whoops – sorry, guys! As a consolation prize for them having to drive over to meet me, I had the soft pretzel pictured above waiting for them. This, my friends, was not any pretzel. It was a GIANT pretzel, bigger than your face, brought to the table in a small pizza box! It was pretty glorious. And the drinks were great, too. Kuhnhenn brews its own beer, wine, and mead. I had a pint of the Simcoe Silly, a Belgian-style ale with a fruity flavor that belied its strength (8.5% alcohol by volume), as well as a glass of the salted caramel wine, a red that surprised me by conveying the salted-caramel flavor quite well. Delicious!

The Clinton Township taproom is a gorgeous, open facility with lots of rich wood and gleaming brewing equipment on display at its entrance. There’s a long bar rail, and communal tables give it that European-beer hall vibe. I’ve never been to the Warren facility, but I’d say the C. Twp. taproom has a leg up because it has a hot food menu, which is relatively small but features that giant pretzel, various appetizers, sausages, a few sandwiches, and a Caesar salad. The Warren taproom sells basic snacks, such as cheese and crackers and peanuts – but the brewery website does mention that food trucks are on site Tuesday through Saturday evenings – so that is pretty awesome. I might actually have to check that out!

36000 Groesbeck Hwy.
Clinton Twp, MI 48035

www.kbrewery.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

111. Griffin Claw Brewing Company – March 26, 2015 – Birmingham, MI

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Thursday night before six p.m. when I walked into Griffin Claw Brewing Company, the revelry was already in full swing. What a great atmosphere! I loved its wood-bench communal seating, colored lights, and vibrant banners hanging on the ceiling. And of course, there’s its wide selection of brewed craft beers – and its rich, heavy bar food to soak it all in (like my delightfully saturated-fat-concentrated meal of fried gouda mac-and-cheese bites and applewood bacon grilled cheese with french fries).

575 S. Eton St.

Birmingham, MI 48009

http://www.griffinclawbrewingcompany.com/