Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Michigan earned the nickname "Wolverine State" during the Toledo War. Ohioans disparagingly compared Michiganders to the vicious mammal. Our state's early residents wore the title proudly as the raised a militia to secure Toledo from the sticky paws of Ohio Politicians. Militias from both states never quite managed to find each other as they marched through the Great Black Swamp. In the end, the only casualty of the war was a Monroe County Sheriff's deputy who suffered non-fatal injures after being cut with a pen knife while attempting to arrest brothers One and Two Stickney. Ohio got the Toledo Strip, while Michigan became a state and got the western 2/3 of the Upper Peninsula making Wisconsin the undisputed looser of the Toledo War.
Fastforward to present day Ann Arbor and the newly opened Wolverine State Brewing Company Tap Room. The name conjures up images of a simpler time. A time when Michiganders were united and determined to shoot at Ohioans, if they could ever find their way out of the damned swamp. As we have mentioned in earlier posts, on the fateful night of November 9th we skipped Glee and piled into the car to check out what Wolverine State Brewing Co. had to offer. Nothing could have prepared us for what came next.
Actually, that is a lie. A map could have prepared us for what came next: driving up and down West Stadium in an attempt to find the tap room. To say it's a little set back from the road doesn't come close to describing it. A more accurate description would be "Wolverine State Brewing Co.'s Tap Room is 100 m west of Stadium directly behind and eclipsed by Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness." Fortunately, we have friends, and those friends have iPhones: 3 phone calls later we had found our way to the parking lot.
I was nervous and excited as we entered the bar. As part of the generation that cut its teeth on microbrews, my world view has long been: lager = American piss-beer, ale = potentially good beer. Recently though, I have realized that might be a false-dichotomy and some lagers are actually good. Wolverine State Brewing Co. specializes in lagers that range from traditional to experimental.
The Tap room has a laid-back ambiance. There is no table service, and no food other than pretzels--but customers are free to bring their own food or order take out. There are an assortment of tables and couches for settin' on and some nice dart boards and pool tables. There's even free WiFi.
As for the beers, I had high hopes for Pride of Biscuitville, a bock style lager, but it was a little too far on the bitter side for me. The Gulo gulo, an "Imperial Pale Lager", though was delicious: a well rounded uniquely crisp IPA with citrus notes. Gulo gulo is great beer with a great name! Erika liked it too. Ben Houston liked the Insolent Mink IPA the best. Adam and Erika were fans the flagship Wolverine Premium Lager because, "It tastes like PBR and I don't like fancy beers." I though it finished a bit like breakfast cereal, but hey: different strokes for different folks. Overall the beers ranged from decent to good, but none were outstanding.
Maybe it was because we were there on a Tuesday, before the grand opening. Or maybe it was the location: out of the way, surrounded by strip-malls. But something felt a little off. Ben Houston captured the feeling best when he said, "It feels like we are drinking in my parents basement." Looking around, we all nodded our heads in agreement. Still though, this place has potential--don't get me wrong--especially considering you can order pizza to the bar. That's a dream come true. I made an improved map, so if you do decide to go you can find your way more easily.
Photos by Damn Arbor. Map by Benjamin Connor Barrie.
Posted by Ben Connor Barrie at 8:00 PM