Detroit Beer City, Part 2

detroit zombieland beer

A sobering sight in Detroit.

Near downtown Detroit is an abandoned neighborhood  now referred to as “Zombieland.” During my recent beer and baseball outing in the Motor City, I passed within half a mile of it on foot as we traversed downtown near Comerica Park.

Looking up to see an abandoned building with the word “Zombieland” painted across it gives you a creepy feeling, no matter where you are. As an avid watcher of AMC’s The Walking Dead (and a reader of the comic book series as well), I could almost hear the guttoral moans and shuffling feet behind me.

It could have happened; last year there were rumors that a Zombie-themed park would land in that neighborhood. Whether that may still happen, I do not know, especially in light of the city’s recent plans to file for bankruptcy. The whole situation was sobering.

Which is an ironic statement, considering how much beer we ended up drinking. But before I get to that, I want to point out that we actually enjoyed our time in Detroit. Comerica Park is beautiful, and the area surrounding that and Ford Field seems much improved since my last  visit roughly 10 years ago. We even cabbed it to the site of the original Tiger Stadium and got to play ball with a few other folks on the original field. Those are hallowed grounds indeed. (But I will say this: Rob pitches everyone outside. That’s my excuse for grounding out weakly to second, anyway.)

Before the game on Saturday, we stopped off at a couple of local beer spots, which happened to – conveniently – be situated next door to each other.

The first was a small bar and eatery called Small Plates, which had some locals on tap. Here’s what we checked out:

Rochester Mills Beer Co. Rochester Red (5.9% ABV) – This is a classic red ale, malty and nutty but with a lighter body than you’d expect upon first inspection. I ended up getting a pint of this. Well, at least according to my notes I did.

frankemuth brewery logo - detroit beerFrankenmuth Brewery Twisted Helles  (5.5% ABV) – This is a pleasantly light beer with a smooth body. The flavor wasn’t anything special, but it was a solid summer beer that combined bread-like flavors with some notes of fruitiness. Not bad.

Motor City Brewing Works Ghetto Blaster (4.2% ABV, 15 IBU) – This English mild ale was an interesting change of pace. Ghetto Blaster has a strong coffee nose, but is much lighter than the nose and color suggest. It is described as having a “clean biscuit flavor,” although in my notes I jotted down “roasted walnut?” Recommended.

And then we walked next door to Detroit Beer Company:

Broadway Light (4.3% ABV) – This is exactly what you think it is – a drinkable, pale lager that is crisp, with just a hint of a bite. It’s made for those folks that want something cold and crisp, without assertive flavor, and is all-day sessionable. We probably should have just split a pint of this and moved on.

detroit beer companyDowntown Brown (5.0% ABV) – This is a mild brown ale, with a cozy mouth feel, subtle malts and almost a toasted almond finish. Recommended for any ale fan. Even Rob liked it.

Double Play IPA (?% ABV) – Now we’re talking my language. This one is dry and hoppy, nicely drinkable and one of those beers that would pair perfectly with a pile of hot wings or some other spicy dish. Rob, who leans toward Guinness, said, “It’s like drinking metal.” Oddly, I could find precious few references to this beer online, making me wish I’d jotted down the ABV and IBU ratings on the spot. Inebriation breeds sloppiness, I suppose. I’ll leave the ABV content up for guessing.

Crooked Grill IPA (6.75% ABV, 50 IBU) – Well, I wrote down the ABV and IBU on this one, so I guess I was more sober than I thought at this point. This is an English IPA that is right up my alley. It’s milder than a lot of IPAs I’ve had – more than drinkable, but with enough of a wallop that I knew to stick with just a sample.

comerica park - detroit beer

This stadium stands out like an amusement park in the middle of downtown Detroit.

By the time we arrived at beautiful Comerica Park, we knew we had to back off to the Labatt’s Light or we’d soon die an awful death by exploding liver. I have to thank Rob for joining me on my quest and for not making fun of how inebriated I became.

Luckily, when we got back to our hotel, we got some comfort food in our bellies at the hotel restaurant and began our recovery.

Although, we probably should not have raided that mini-bar once we got back to the room …

Detroit Beer City, Part I

Downtown Detroit was fairly slow on a Saturday afternoon, but we made do.

Downtown Detroit was fairly slow on a Saturday afternoon, but we made do.

My trip to Detroit this past weekend didn’t yield as much local brewery-hopping as I had hoped, but I still managed to squeeze in quite a few Michigan-brewed beers. More than I probably should have, actually. My notes by the end of the day were pretty sloppy. OK, really sloppy.

Luckily, some of the non-brewery places we hit had local stuff for us, particularly Bookies Bar & Grille downtown. We went there primarily because back in the day Bookies was home to Detroit’s punk rock scene – sort of a CBGB for the Motor City. Now, this is a different location than the original, but being a fan of Detroit rock, and in particular my pals The Romantics, my buddy Rob and I decided to stop in for a bite and some brews just to toast the descendent version of the bar.

Here’s what I/we tried there:

Saugatuck Brewing Company Singapore IPA (7% ABV, 72 IBU) – This beer was smooth and drinkable, with a medium hop bite and perhaps a tiny touch of apricot (?). Nothing earth-shattering, and a true hophead would probably not be terribly interested, but it worked just fine for me.

Saugatuck Brewing Company Pathfinder (4.9%, 30 IBU) – Even though this one was a “lighter” ale, I actually liked the dryness of the mouthfeel and finish. It was less fruity and more edgy, which paired well with the Buffalo wings we ate, making my taste buds happy.

Griffin Claw El Rojo (6.5% ABV) – Griffin Claw Brewing Company is a newly opened Birmingham, Mich., brewery, and this interesting red ale had a floral nose that I couldn’t quite place. The malts gave way to something I thought was vaguely melon-esque, but Rob said to him it hinted at pistachio. Clearly, by this point our taste buds were getting worn out. I blame the wings.

Dragonmead Microbrewery Final Absolution Belgian Style Tripel Ale (8.5% ABV) – I confess I am not a particular fan of Belgian-style ales in most cases. This is a damn fine beer, but the ample banana, clove and honey turned off my palate. Nevertheless, this trappist-style ale had a very nice body and bold flavors that hit you from all angles. It packs a whallop, as well.

beer - labatt's blue light banner Comerica ParkAll in all, I’m rather glad we went the route of Bookies, which presented a nice regional beer list to go with the standards, including Labatt’s Blue and Labatt’s Light. Yeah, we ended up drinking a few of those too once we got to Comerica Park. When in Rome. Nevertheless, I came away with the sense that Detroit and the region have every bit the booming local brewing scene as the Louisville beer scene, even if the city itself is struggling right now.

More to come …

Drunk Canadian Swims to Detroit

louisville beer - swimmer

This isn’t the drunk Canadian guy; it’s just a photo illustration. Clearly, this guy isn’t drunk.

One of the reasons I love beer is that it provides us with stories like this one: A man from Windsor, Canada, drank eight beers and then swam to Detroit.

John Morillo, who should probably be more mature at age 47, decided to swim across the Detroit River just to prove to his incredulous buddies that he could do it.

And here’s the biggest reason to love this guy: He really seems to have no regrets, even though he was plucked from the water by the U.S. Coast Guard.

“If I’m going to be in the paper, I’d at least like them to say I actually made it,” Morillo told The Windsor Star, “even though I got in trouble and everything. I gotta pay fines and stuff. But I don’t want it to sound like I didn’t make it, because then my buddies are going to say ‘Ha, ha, you didn’t make it.’ Because that was the whole thing, to show them I could do it.”


I know this has nothing to do with the Louisville beer scene, but I couldn’t resist posting it. I only wish the story had specified what kind of beer he drank. Because I gotta get me some of that stuff.