Ann Arbor Beer Week

This Monday through Thursday, it’s officially beer week in Ann Arbor. Bars across town are participating in special events to commemorate the week, and there are a few special events around town as well. First, the week-long deals:

  • Arbor Brewing Company – $3 select draughts 4-7pm.
  • Arena – $3 draughts 4-7pm, $3.25 Michigan draughts 10pm-close.
  • Ashley’s – $1 off draughts 3-6pm, Appetizer specials 3-6pm.
  • Bar Louie – $3 draughts 4-7pm.
  • Blue Leprechaun – $2 Miller Lite all day.
  • Cottage Inn – $2.50 draughts, half-off appetizers 3pm-close Monday-Wednesday only. Bell’s Poolside Ale available all week.
  • Old Town 0 $1 off Michigan beers 4-6pm and 10pm-close.
  • Tio’s – $1 off draughts and Mexican beers 3-6pm.
Arbor Brewing Company

Arbor Brewing Company Presents The 2nd Annual A2 Beer Week

The special events throughout the week include Monday beer trivia at Ashley’s, Tuesday discounts at all participating bars (the above plus Alley Bar) if you wear a Michigan beer t-shirt, Bar Golf on Wednesday, and an American Craft Beer Celebration at Arbor on Thursday. This week is the kick-off for Arbor’s 15th Anniversary Weekend, so check out their website for ticket info and further details. More on the Anniversary Weekend (including details on the street party on Friday) later in the week.

This is a very odd lineup, especially for a “beer week” event. Blue Leprechaun and Tio’s, in particular, are not exactly beer bars, and the rest are questionable inclusions to varying degrees. It would have been nice to see some other legit beer bars and microbreweries (Blue Tractor, Grizzly Peak, Jolly Pumpkin) on the roster.

Ann Arbor: Beer City USA?

Charlie Papazian, on Beer Examiner, is accepting nominations for the Beer City, USA contest. For a city to be nominated, it must receive 70 votes on the page. 16 Cities have already reached the required 70 votes, and a number of others are close – including Ann Arbor.

Per a Papazian tweet earlier today, Ann Arbor is one of the few additional cities within reach of a nomination:

Huntsville(26), Ann Arbor(20), Baltimore(16) in the hunt for nomination. Need 70. http://bit.ly/bptHZQ

You can only vote once per IP address, so round up as many friends as you can (or visit a bunch of different coffee shops), and try to get Ann Arbor nominated. A2 isn’t an option on the page’s poll, so you’ll have to write it in. Voting closes at 2PM Eastern on Sunday.

Why is Ann Arbor deserving? The home of Grizzly Peak, The Blue Tractor, Jolly Pumpkin (taphouse only – though the main brewery is still in metro Ann Arbor), Arbor Brewing Company, Ashley’s, and a robust homebrewing community, it’s almost certainly beer city, Michigan. Might as well keep aiming higher.

Review: Packard Pub

At long last, the property that had been left empty at the corner of Packard and State St. in Ann Arbor since the closing of Artisan Bistro has been filled by a bar. Packard Pub has been open since March 26th, and sells itself as a sports bar, with a slight focus on local (state of Michigan) microbrews.

Atmosphere

Packard Pub sells itself as a sports bar, and with several big-screen TVs littering the dining room, it will always be possible to catch the game. The waitstaff, dressed as referees, fits the theme as well. I’ve watched a few sporting events there, including NCAA basketball and hockey tournament games, and it does have the feel of a sports bar during the day and early evening.

However, in my experiences, Packard Pub is still facing something of an identity crisis. When the lights go down at night, a DJ booth has popped up in a corner more often than not. The management needs to decide whether they want their restaurant to be a sports bar or a nightclub. They’re obviously aiming for the former, and need to forget about the latter. With large tables that can’t be moved out of the way to make space for a dancefloor (and the pseudo-club niche already filled in town by a number of other bars), Packard Pub needs to cast its lot as a sports bar, and nothing else.

Food and Drink

The food at Packard Pub is supposed to be their pride and joy (“What separates me is the food” owner Kyle Miller told the Michigan Daily in March), but from what I’ve had, it’s standard bar food. Solid, but unspectacular, and not the feature to make one’s name upon. The prices for food are about in line with other restaurants in the area, perhaps a little on the expensive side for standard bar fare.

As drinks go, Packard Pub plans to have a number of Michigan microbrews on tap, but for the first couple weeks, only a few were available alongside the more mainstream offerings from SAB MillerCoors and InBev. This is most likely something that will be adjusted once the restaurant settles into its groove a bit more. The prices are about standard, however there is a distinct lack of quality specials, something that every other bar in town has. Again, that may be fixed once Packard Pub has its feet under it a bit more.

The Future

As I’ve noted a number of times in the above, Packard Pub has the opportunity to become a staple of Ann Arbor nightlife for students. However, it still has a ways to go. Some improvements to atmosphere, selection, and pricing can go a long way to ensuring a successful business venture. Once the luster of a new bar in town wears off (and the students stop coming in such full force), hopefully Packard Pub will make the adjustments necessary to set it apart from other places in town.

It’s far from a finished product in other ways as well, with a downstairs seating area that has yet to open. That area will increase seating significantly, though I’m not sure if the television situation in the lower level will fit with the sports bar ideal. Still, just over a month into its existence, it’s easy to see that Packard Pub can become a worthwhile addition to the Ann Arbor community.

Verdict

As of now, I’d give Packard Pub an overall grade of C, close to a C-plus. However, there is plenty of potential for it to improve significantly once it settles into its place in the Ann Arbor bar scene. It has potential (as a sports bar) to reach a solid grade of A-minus.