Have last minute shopping to do? Have a beer lover on your list? Or perhaps you love beer and want to bring someone into the ever-growing craft beer fold? Fear not: you can still pick up all sorts of gifts that will be a hit.
Growlers and Swag
You can stop in at any of our area breweries and pick up a growler of beer to give as a gift or bring to a party. If you want to bring beer to Christmas dinner, check out my recent article on brews for the Thanksgiving table for some hints on pairings. We have incredible beer in and around Ann Arbor, so step into your favorite brewery and grab a growler. There’s nothing quite like fresh beer right from the brewery. Some of our local breweries also have a nice selection of their bottled beer to take home.
Maybe you want to give some brewery swag: a shirt, hat, sweatshirt, or brewery glassware. All of our local breweries have plenty of options to choose from. How about the ultimate gift of beer: a mug club membership? Prices, terms, and benefits vary, but mug club memberships are a fun way to support your local brewery. In addition to a special mug or size of beer , members generally get discounts on beer and swag, access to special events like beer release parties, and other benefits. Just stop in at a local brewery and inquire.
Here’s a list of Ann Arbor-area breweries:
- Arbor Brewing Co.: 114 E. Washington, Ann Arbor, 734-213-1393
- Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery: 207 E. Washington, Ann Arbor, 734-222-4095
- Corner Brewery: Arbor Brewing’s sister ship in Ypsilanti. 720 Norris, Ypsilanti, 734-480-2739
- Grizzly Peak Brewing Co.: 120 W. Washington, Ann Arbor, 734-741-7325
- Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery: 311 S. Main St., Ann Arbor, 734-913-2730
- Liberty Street Brewing Co.: 149 W. Liberty Street, Plymouth, 48170, 734-207-9600
- Original Gravity Brewing Co.: 440 County Street, Milan, 48160, 734-439-7490
- Wolverine State Brewing Co.: 2019 W. Stadium, Ann Arbor, 734-369-2990
That’s right, folks, eight breweries in or near Ann Arbor!
Serving beer in the right type of glass can deliver better aroma and flavor, improve temperature control, and enhance head retention and overall appearance. Beer is a sensory experience: we hear the sharp hiss of opening the bottle and the sound of the pour; we see the color, clarity, and head; we smell the complex aroma; we taste the elixir in all of its bitterness, sweetness, tartness, spiciness, etc.; and we feel it in our mouths, bubbles pricking our tongues and overall mouthfeel making an impression.
The right glassware is part of making that all happen. Glassware is available in the beer sections of some better beer stores, right at the breweries (though this is often in the form of the ubiquitous pint glass), and at some kitchen stores. Bed, Bath & Beyond has some beer glassware. Recently, I saw a nice selection in Hollander’s at the Kerrytown Shops. Tall wheat glasses, delicate tulip glasses, ale chalices: the right glassware goes a long way toward achieving the perfect pour.
Looking to start or add to someone’s beer collection? In addition to bottles from some of the breweries, above, we have some great beer stores. I’ll skip the party stores here and turn to the markets, where you can also do your food shopping.
Arbor Farms, at 2103 W. Stadium in Ann Arbor, carries a very nice selection of Michigan and other craft beers. In addition to four- and six-packs, they have a good variety of 22 oz., 750 ml, and single 12 oz. bottles. It’s the selection of 12 oz. singles that really stands out for me, since you can get someone a truly great variety easily and economically.
Plum Market, at 375 N. Maple Road in Ann Arbor, has a dazzling array of beer to choose from. I’ve often found small batch beers here that I couldn’t find anywhere else, including some of Arbor Brewing’s delicious barrel-aged sour beers. Their selection of 12 oz. singles is not as strong as Arbor’s, but the overall variety is wonderful. They also carry meads and ciders.
Whole Foods, at 990 W. Eisenhower Parkway and 3135 Washtenaw Ave. in Ann Arbor, also has a nice selection of beer as well as a wide array of meads. There’s less of a focus on Michigan beer, but I have found some real treasures here, too. Sometimes, they have some in the back that they haven’t put out yet, and they can make you a heavenly mixed six-pack. Just ask.
This homebrewer would be remiss if I failed to mention gifts for the homebrewer. Although there’s a strong homebrewing community in Ann Arbor, we are not blessed with a truly local, good homebrew shop. Adventures in Homebrewing is a great store over in Taylor (23869 Van Born Rd., 48180, 313-277-2739). They can help you choose the perfect gift for the total beginner, virtual pro, or anyone in between. Complete equipment kits, recipe kits, individual ingredients, books, etc., abound at the store, and the shop is staffed by very friendly, knowledgable folks.
Whatever you choose to give, it’s hard to go wrong with our local beers and, more broadly, the incredible offerings from Michigan breweries. Happy holidays!
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