Craft Beers

258. Axle Brewing Company – July 7, 2017 – Ferndale, MI

20170707_203746 (2)Hi guys – TGIF! I’m really excited about the place I’m highlighting today, Axle Brewing Company. I LOVED this brewery when I visited it back in early July and NEED to go back – it’s a revisit-category establishment, for sure!

Axle Brewing opened in early June and is located in Ferndale north of Eight Mile; it’s close to the Detroit border and the Avenue of Fashion neighborhood (an area I visited for the first time last weekend and am excited to explore more of). The brewery is a beautiful facility, sleek and modern looking, with white-tiled walls, a brick-paver patio with a fire pit, and plenty of communal seating. The wait for a table was long when we got there on a Friday evening; we put our name in but ended up getting seats at the bar because it was first-come, first-serve there. We weren’t called for a table until we were halfway through our food, but we didn’t care at all because sitting at the bar was fun, and the food at Axle was IN-F’IN-SANE!

Truly, the eats were phenomenal, like engaging-a-food-orgy-your-mouth-phenomenal. The lamb burger I got with an onion marmalade, arugula, cheese, and a pesto mayo was juicy and tender and flavorful and about 100 more delightful adjectives. The Twice-Fried Frites with spicy dipping aioli were beyond addictive. The Dill Pickle Cheese Curds dunked in the accompanying ale-infused barbecue sauce . . . seriously! This is NEXT-LEVEL food here!

Probably there is nothing better to my Type-A, go-go-go personality than turning off my brain for a while and enjoying the company of loved ones and libations while I consume the most delicious, flavorful, saturated-fat-laden food ever, so eating this meal at Axle Brewing with friends while sipping on the well-crafted Noble Ghost Grindgeist blonde beer with its fruity undertones was complete heaven.

Worth noting: Axle Brewing is closed on Mondays; it opens at 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and at 11 on Saturdays and Sundays (and there’s a brunch menu!).

567 Livernois St.

Ferndale, MI 48220

www.axlebrewing.com

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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

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

201. Ale Mary’s Beer Hall – October 14, 2016 – Royal Oak, MI

20161014_23081520161014_232613Happy Saturday, everybody! After several days of rain and gloom, it’s blue skies and sunshine this morning here in the D, and I can’t wait to get out into the world!!! I spent all day yesterday in my house during a much-needed work-from-home day, but now I’m ready to break out.

Maybe you’re ready to break out, too. If you’re local, why not take a visit to Ale Mary’s Beer Hall in downtown Royal Oak for its excellent pub grub and expansive selection of craft brews?

Last Friday night, I met a friend I haven’t seen in a while in Royal Oak for a tea date at Goldfish Tea. Translation: we both wanted a cheap night.

(Goldfish Tea is lovely, by the way. It’s not cheap for tea – they do tea right! – but it’s cheap in the general scheme of life.)

And then my friend was like, “I could really go for a hamburger!” That was all she had to say to sell me. My financial resolve went right out the window at the mention of a greasy meat sandwich. We decided on Ale Mary’s because neither of us had been there (a woman after my own heart! – and one of the many reasons we are friends).

The long, narrow interior of the bar, done up in the popular industrial-chic style of the area, was noisy and crowded. We were able to convince two girls at the bar to scoot down a seat so we could grab two stools. After much deliberation (everything on the menu sounds AMAZING, especially at 11 p.m. on a Friday night) and feedback from our bartender server, I ordered the Cuban, a beast of a sandwich loaded with ham, pork, Swiss cheese, cracked mustard aioli (sooo good!), and McClure’s pickles and accompanied by crispy beer-battered French fries. My friend ordered the Beer Cheese Burger, which I tried; it was excellent.

I saved half of that Cuban sandwich and had it Sunday afternoon for lunch, after toasting it in the oven, and it was phenomenal – possibly better than it initially was. So so so so good.

Neither of us drank (I know, sacrilege!), but I was tempted to, because Ale Mary’s offers a fine assortment of craft beers, including some local brews.

316 S. Main St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.alemarysbeer.com

 

173. The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company – April 17, 2016 – Detroit, MI

After picking up some gorgeous baked goods at Avalon International Breads, my solo mini Detroit Day in Midtown a few weekends ago continued with a visit to The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, a short walk from the bakery. This, my friends, is not some standard coffee shop – it’s a coffee shop/bar! Yes, in addition to serving locally roasted, meticulously crafted coffee concoctions, The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company offers booze – craft beer, wine, and cocktails – and is open late most nights (Monday through Thursday until 11; Friday and Saturday until midnight; and Sunday until 8). So whether you are looking to amp up or mellow out, GLCRC’s got ya!

The shop’s interior is quintessentially modern Detroit – lots of brick, wood, and metal – and has ample seating, boasting both a bar rail and plenty of tables. And let me tell you, this joint serves up some excellent coffee. I had the lavender latte, and it was everything you want in a coffee: rich, smooth, and flavorful. What a difference high-caliber coffee beans make!

Prior to visiting GLCRC, I’d seen some complaints on Yelp about the sizes of the coffee drinks it ofers. Some people felt they hadn’t gotten enough bang for their buck. And yes, my lavender latte came in a glass that was smaller than the small coffee I’d get at a corporate-chain house. But this was A-OK with me, because the coffee was so delicious; it cost a fair price to me considering the quality. Also, my caffeine tolerance is about nil. This was the perfect size for me; I got a little buzz, but I wasn’t vibrating-in-my-body-insane feeling (as I was when I made the mistake of getting a large Starbucks iced coffee last summer and literally felt like I was on drugs). Cheers to that!

3965 Woodward Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

(with additional locations in Bloomfield Hills and inside Cobo Hall)

www.greatlakescoffee.com

161. Mercury Burger and Bar – January 24, 2016 – Detroit, MI

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Glorious Southwest Detroit burger with chorizo, avocado, jalapenos, pickled carrots . . . out-of-control good! 

I’m OBSESSED!!! Ok, I say that about a lot of places I visit lately, but I truly am experiencing feelings of obsession around Corktown’s Mercury Burger and Bar and the AMAZING Southwest Detroit burger I had there about a month ago. Seriously, it was glorious. It was PERFECT. It had to be one of the very best burgers I’ve ever had.

That weekend was the weekend of burgers for me, apparently. I’d visited another peddler of excellent burgers, Luxe Bar and Grill, just two days prior. The trip to Mercury was part of a Detroit Day – one of my very favorite days in the world! – on which a good friend and I spend an afternoon jaunting about Detroit, exploring establishments we’ve never been.

Not only was the burger I had amazing, but so were the poutine tater tots (poutine tots!!!). Another plus: the interior of the diner is so bright and cheerily Detroit-centric, with a friendly, welcoming bar staff if you decide to perch along its rail and enjoy a local craft ale with your meal as we did. All in all, it is almost impossible not to fall in love with this place.

2163 Michigan Ave.
Detroit, MI 48216

www.mercuryburgerbar.com

157. Rochester Tap Room – December 29, 2015 – Rochester Hills, MI

20151229_13563320151229_13563720151229_143954I’m really not much of a Christmas/holiday season person compared to some people. You will NOT see me putting up my tree November 1, that sacrilege against fall, my favorite season! And I pretty much throw up a little in my mouth when I see holiday decorations and plastic pine trees for sale in department stores in mid-October. But there are some things I love about the holiday season – real Christmas trees, family time, thoughtful gifts, richly indulgent dinners – and holiday decorations in bars. I LOVE holiday decorations in bars. Random, I know. But it makes them so cozy and lovely! Often the dive-i-er the bar, the better – the dive-i-ness somehow ups the festive factor.

The Rochester Tap Room is not at all a dive bar. It is definitely within the classy echelon of bars – regal, even. The menus are on frickin’ tablets! I’ve heard of restaurant menus being on tablets, but this is the first time I’ve ever handled one. I have to say, I prefer the traditional cardboard menu for ease of use; I swipe enough on my phone every day. But if there is a menu that should be encased on an electronic device, I would say this would be the one. The beer menu is impressive! Rochester Tap Room currently boasts 61 craft beers on tap! They’ve also got a pretty nice wine menu, plus a food menu that features hearty bar fare such as a pulled pork sandwich (the Pig Out) with bacon gloriously interlaced on top of the pulled pork, because why in the heck not? And they sure knew how to decorate for the holidays. Check out all of the gloriously beautiful heartwarming festiveness in these photos!

6870 N. Rochester Rd.

Rochester Hills, MI 48306

www.rochestertap.com

156. Fork n’ Pint – December 26, 2015 – Waterford, MI

20151226_20411420151226_19401920151226_194001Chicken ‘n’ waffle! Poutine! Roasted root salad! The large and impressive menu of the recently opened Fork n’ Pint in Waterford boasts numerous rich-and-cozy comfort-food dishes. You need a hearty, substantial meal to go with all of those craft cocktails and beers you’ll be consuming in the confines of the cozy, cabin-esque establishment. (OK, I am sensing a theme with cozy for me here. I am in flannel pajamas and drinking tea with a candle warmly burning next to me in the dead of winter, so cozy is kind of my jam right now).

I probably didn’t need to be gorging on fried chicken, waffle, cheesy grits, and fries loaded with gravy and cheese curds the night after two days of holiday celebration and all of the festive eating that entails, but well, why not? Why not continue the glorious, fat-drenched revelry? After all, this was a special dinner. I reconnected with some friends I worked with years ago, who I’ve kept in decent touch with but who at most I only see one to two times a year. Our workplace was one of those one-of-a-kind office environments with one-of-a-kind people who you will never forget, and friendships forged that allow you to pick up exactly where you left off and to reminisce about hijinks surrounding the old joint and to cackle with glee over the gossip. Old work-joint gossip is possibly the best kind of gossip! And poutine is my jam! So I was pretty content with my visit to Fork n’ Pint. And I’d love to go there again to try out more of that delectable-looking menu.

4000 Cass Elizabeth Rd.

Waterford, MI 48328

www.forknpint.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

 

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