Why Are You Here?

Welcome to the Wench's World--the A2 Beer Wench to be exact. If you've stumbled upon me, cool. If you've entered through the Wolverinbeer.com site, be warned! What follows may or may not be directly related to the craft brewing business but it sure will be fun and many times profane as the circumstances warrant! Enjoy (or not) at your own risk!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Wench On The Road PLUS Bonus Deep Thoughts for a Monday

Your A2 Beer Wench was chillin' in the D this weekend, hanging out with new friends at Rub BBQ Detroit Thursday, Friday and Saturday (and then some Tigers afterwards on Saturday).

The pictorial proof, should you or anyone who doubts me require it:

It was a big fun time. I'll be back down there next month when RUB BBQ makes our Premium Lager their Beer of the Month Special Feature!

Deep thoughts for today.

They say that a successfully begun and run enterprise is one that you can walk away from and it carries on smoothly without you thanks to you and your efforts.

Those "they" also claim that we are all 100% replaceable, despite potentially inflated views of our own importance to the universe.

I agree with "them" on both counts today, but perhaps that is the cynic in me that has experienced a revival of late.

Have a lovely, warm, spring (finally) Monday!

We will announce our official Spring Menu (including kid's options) PLUS the new Wolverine State Brewing Co. Brewer Initiated and Led Tour Schedule later this week.

Your Thinking Deep Thoughts Wench on the Road.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Across the Beer Bar with Some Rankerts

As part of my "job" as the Official Wench of Beer in the Ann Arbor area I get to meet a lot of really cool people.

A couple of those very ones stopped by for a chat with me last week.

You probably know them.

Most folks in local beer world do. They're semi-celebrities in the Michigan home brewing scene, and were among the first members of the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild and they love and support all the great breweries in the area!

Please give a warm wenchie welcome to:

Jeff and Susan Rankert!

throws confetti…..Now, to clue you in, "Liz" is "Wench" That is to say, "me."

Welcome guys! What are we drinking to start?

Susan: Hi 'n Dry Rye all around. It is a wonderful beer!

Liz: Agreed, but I'm sticking to what I know and love, the Gulo Gulo. Now, tell me a little about what got you, Susan, started in home brewing. 

Susan: Back in the '90's Jeff was well on his way to being an excellent home brewer, and I pretty much just stayed out of his way. But we got the opportunity to go the Germany for a while which meant a hiatus from the home brewing. We lived in an area not really known for its great beers but luckily, Germany isn't a huge country so between that and the fact we were but a short drive from Belgium,  we got the chance to really appreciate all sorts of European styles. 

Funny story, although I was already knowledgeable as "beer" has always been my alcohol of choice I still sometimes have to prove it. I was in some fancy beer shop in Belgium and had picked up a gueze style and was pondering it when a sales person approached me. He did not look terribly thrilled at the thought of having to "explain" lambics and wild fermentation to a female. Once I asked him the right question about it, he calmed down and we had a nice chat, but I always remember that moment as one where I felt very obvious as an "American" and as a woman holding a beer he assumed I knew nothing about. 

Liz: Yes, we ladies sometimes get pushed right off the ball in this biz based on assumptions, don't we? It's getting better, but it still happens.  What happened once you guys got back to the states?

Susan: While I was there, I sent "updates" to the local home brewer's guild about the various beers we'd had which was fun. But when we returned I started attending their meetings and I was the only woman in the room. I began helping Jeff with the home brewing projects after that.

Jeff: We collaborate on everything now.

Susan: Jeff does the hard core recipe development…the numbers and calculations. I'm more the right brain of the collaborations….I want to know how a bit of, say, smoky barb-b-que might taste in our porter.

Liz: What is your favorite part of home brewing?

Jeff: Well, once upon a time, home brewing was the only way to get anything interesting or creative, other than to travel a long way to find it. It was the best way to make the sort of beer you wanted to drink. So the simple creative act for me is the best thing.

Susan:  Agreed. But I also love the beer brewing community. It's very European in its attitude about beer (and drinking in general). We enjoy beer together, we are not about getting our drunk on however I don't blink if I see someone enjoying a brew at, say, 11 in the morning.  I accept that a normal level of alcohol consumption can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is a social lubricant. But we don't want to drown in it.

Liz: Well said. Might quote you on that someday. Let's refresh our glasses?

Jeff:  I'll try the new one, the kellerbier Daft 'n Dank.

Susan: More High 'n Dry Rye for me thanks.

Liz: (makes mental note of the overabundance of the 'n in the beer names and moves on, 2nd gulo gulo in hand)  And so, that's the best thing, what is the worst thing about home brewing.

Jeff: The mess.

Susan: Cleaning up the messes. But I will tell you I am funny about noticing how clean breweries are when I visit them. A spotlessly clean brewery is a sign of a great brewer and staff. And I know how hard it is to keep a place that way, based on my small scale efforts.

Liz: Agreed. The brewing staff at Wolverine has spoiled me for that, I'll admit. I visit a fair number of breweries and always notice when they are not up to the clean standard set here. Since you no longer HAVE to home brew or fly to Europe to get decent beer, what is the motivation to continue doing it?

Jeff:  I'm all about trying to recreate some of the amazing brews I've had, especially lagers. I know how hard it is to make a really good one. 

Susan: Yes, it's fun to find a particular style you really like and try to make it at home. 

Liz: So what is your process, as a team of home brewers?

Susan: Jeff engineers the beer, concocts the recipe, makes the framework. He's a numbers guy so that works. I then execute the recipe. 

Jeff: Susan has a more discerning palate than I do so she can help identify off flavors which also helps.

Liz:  You guys have been honored for some of your brews at national competitions, right?

Jeff: Yes, but we know how subjective beer judging is. 

Susan: And how much depends on a well-run beer judging session. We've served as stewards at several  large competitions and will be head stewards for the national home brewer's competition this year. Bottom line: the stewards determine the level of organization and without that, you just can't have a decent beer competition.

Liz: And the awards….?

Susan: Our barley wine won a gold medal and a trip to Sierra Nevada Beer Camp. That was an experience I'll never forget. It was amazing.

Jeff: Our Pilsner won a bronze. And the winning feels great but we take it with a grain of salt. You never know who is judging, what their palate leans towards. 

Liz: And so, what's next for you guys? 

Susan: We experimented with a wet hopped beer last fall and hope to try that again. There is a new hop variety unique to Michigan called Empire that is having some success. Using ingredients close to home is something we can do here.

Jeff: We like to adhere to traditional processes and ingredients.

Susan: …. as long as we can keep being creative within that….

Liz: Sounds like you guys keep it interesting in the kitchen….Thanks for coming by and have fun with all your creativity and your stewardly organization!

There you have it Wench fans and others! The king and queen of A2 Home Brewing! 


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

It's Keller Time--OR a NEW BREW for April

From the Brewerz lips to your earz…..

Daft ­N­ Dank

­India Pale Kellerbier­
alc. 5.0% by volume / 50 IBU’s

First question to answer is, “What is a frickin’ Kellerbier?!?”  The answer is fairly simple, it’s a “Cellar” Beer.  Make sense?

Basically it means that this beer is unfiltered and served young.  We should all know by know that a lager is defined not just by the colder fermentation temperatures but also by the extended cold­storage time.  The purpose of storing lagers for a long time, and at cold temperatures is that the yeast which remains in the beer after fermentation will continue to mature the beer.  Not ferment anymore, but the yeast will very slowly and steadily absorb different flavor compounds left over from primary fermentation. Essentially “cleaning up” the beer and produce a very clean and poignant flavor profile that is the hallmark of lager beer.

So why make a Kellerbier if lagering it would make it cleaner?!  The thought behind this beer was that we used A LOT of big, aromatic American hops.  Ahtanum, Zythos, and Falconer’s Flight 7C’s. Hopped in the Brewhouse at 2.5# of hops per barrel!  THEN, dry­hopped in the fermenter with another 1.5# of hops per barrel!  That is nearly 4# of hops per barrel! For comparison the Gulo Gulo is hopped at 2.9# of hops per barrel. So by making this a Kellerbier we are getting some very fresh hop character in the
flavor and aroma as well as some flavor character from the yeast itself.  That yeast not only lends some flavor it is also FULL of vitamins and the Daft N Dank will continue to develop as the beer is served because that lager yeast is continuing to mature the
beer.  This means the last keg of this beer is going to be completely different from the first keg.

We used a couple new malts to us in this brew.  Namely a Pale malt called Ashburne Mild Malt which is darker in color than regular Pale Ale malt which is what the Gulo is made with.  Then we used a malt from Germany called CARABelge which adds notes of caramel, dried fruit, and almonds.  Lastly we used a nice little dollop of Roasted
Barley to give a nice toasty background to the beer that really balances out the fruity and spiciness of the hops.

Daft N Dank was brewed to be a very balanced hoppy beer with most of the hop character coming in the aroma and tons in the flavor, not so much the bitterness.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Thoughts on this Day of Destiny--or VOTE FOR DAVE!

Greetings Wench fans and followers, stalkers, creepers, lurkers and haters (I have a big umbrella)!

Just a few thoughts and randomness. Firstly, Yes the game is on tonight at 7:15. Michigan Vs. Tennessee in the NCAA men's b-ball Sweet 16 tips off on all screens in the Tap Room and Gulo Room. Lagers will flow. Food will be ready. Go Blue…..until 9:45 when we must all hold hands and chant (in order to dispel the Evil that is the Curse of the repeated UK Game) GO CARDS!

Second, our very own Beer Reporter/Genius DAVE BARDALLIS could use your vote!
He is a finalist in the Beer Bloggers Conference Essay Contest.
Read his entry here.


Finally, we are on the cusp of (finally) upgrading our Online Bulletin Board. A.k.a. The Wolverine State Brewing Co. Website. To that end we are doing all sorts of fun things….like taking photos of sandwiches….

and shirts….


Anyway, please note that in the coming 7-10 days you may encounter a lovely young blonde woman with a camera. If you do not wish to be photographed, please just let her know in a really polite way. She's a cool chick. I'd hate for anyone to be a jerk to her.

And  because by now, it's really all about the coaching….


I'm out…


Monday, March 24, 2014

Ch-ch-ch-changes….OR Yes, I Could Mean Diapers

*****Ok, let me just jump in front of this now and put your collective minds at ease: Your Wench is in no eminent danger of having to change the diapers of anyone newly related to her (to the best of her knowledge).*****

Whew. That even scared me a little.

Ok, so, here is the deal.

Being that it is SUPPOSED TO BE SPRING and all, we are brushing off the snow covering a few things (yeah, we know the parking lot is all effed up but until the Great Melt, we are stuck with it. More on this issue shortly) and want to make a few announcements regarding the Ever Popular CHANGE.

Not the kind you toss in a jar in the laundry room either.

Change as in For the Good…around the Tap Room….

Number 1:
I need you all to tuck those bottles of red, white or otherwise colored alcoholic beverages derived from grapes back into your cars. Because we do NOT hold a RETAIL LIQUOR LICENSE we cannot allow you to use our beer glasses for your wine. In short, the "Bring Your Own Wine" measure just signed into law in Michigan DOES NOT APPLY TO US. Forgive my shouty CAPITAL LETTERS. But I need you all to understand this and not give the beer-tenders or my man Josh a hard time about it, plunking your bottles of (no doubt Michigan produced because that is the purpose of this law, so I'm told) wine onto the beer bar and demanding a Sommelier and some big fat stemware to splash it into once it has been breathing for the correct amount of time.

Nope.  Beer. And damn good beer at that. If you are unsure about what beer you might like, just ask one of my ever-friendly and helpful Beer Servers.

Not here. Sorry.  It's the law. We have a "brewer's license" which allows us to pour ONLY what is made within the 4 walls of the building. Capisce?

Number 2:

Ok, now onto the parking lot sitch. Yeah, we have giant piles of gross, gray, moldy snow stacked up along the side of the thing. It sort of precludes parking there. PLEASE TRY TO BE SMART when you park and don't create dangerous and annoying bottlenecks right there at the pinch point between the drive in (which you are lucky to make it through without losing your car or first born child into the Black Holes of Death a.k.a. our pothole garden) and the parking lot proper. You CAN use the bike shop lot now, as well as the Comerica Bank and Realtor building (on the other side of the bank) lots after 5 p.m.  Make a note. The damn thing was like a corn maze last Thursday night, unnecessarily so, as there was plenty of space in the bank and Realtor building lots at the time.

Number 3:
Aaaaand another thing (I'm on a tear, don't get too close or you might get spit in your eye):
As of June 1, 2014 we will have a firm, NO OUTSIDE FOOD policy in the Tap Room. Seriously folks we have an amazing and delicious menu now. Allow me to tease you with a one-item glimpse into the full spring makeover we are giving it that will launch in early April….
"The WSBC BLT" made with bacon procured from the Dearborn Meat Company and smoked on site, fresh greens, tomatoes, avocados…..yum! And that is but ONE of the many new spring/summer Tap Room menu additions to be be made. There will be notices placed in the Tap Room, on the website, the Facebook page, the twitter feed, via smoke signals from the rooftop if necessary. The fact is we provide GREAT food and so we are asking that you not bring in food from anywhere else as of June 1.

Number 4 (should have been number 2, I know I know, you're blinding me with your wit):

Along with the spring menu change-over (and the unveiling of the new and improved Parking Lot Beer Garden soon) we will have a lovely kid-friendly menu that will include junior quesadillas, PB&J sammies, grilled cheese, fresh fruit and juice boxes for the rug rats to consume while you quaff one of our lagers. AND… because we are so damn customer focused, we are installing DIAPER CHANGING STATIONS IN BOTH BATHROOMS.

I think that's plenty for one post, no?

See you in Indianapolis….GO CARDS! (get all the references in that photo above? good for you!)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Across the Beer Bar with Some Guys

NOT JUST ANY GUYS! Some Happy Hour Guys!

Greetings and welcome (back) to my beer bar!

Jimmy Ludwig

Mark Aldirch

Joe Gregoria (with Jimmy)

BW: What can I pour for each of you to start?
[Jimmy]  Great to be back! Well, it's early where I am, so I'll have a Barista Coffee Lager. Wakey wakey!
[Mark] I'll start out with a Dark Lager-- one of my favorites.
[JG] District 16. It’s my beer, and I’ll call it what I want!
BW: Already causing trouble I see, Gregoria. It's ok. We will deal with you later.

BW: Do you remember when/how we met?
[JG] We met here at the Wolverine. Matt Roy is a former UM Glee Clubber with our Swedish Guy, Sven Larson. Matt was invited to play on my excessively-amateur hockey team, The Sheep (@hockeysheep), mostly because he brings growlers from the tap room to the locker room. I ended up in the tap room to find out who was making this amazing craft lager right here in town. Matt introduced me to you. It’s been downhill ever since.
[Jimmy]  In the dim non-foggy recesses of my hops-addled brain I seem to recall you reaching out to us as you were launching Wolverine State back in 2009-2010, no?  I believe the quote from you was something along the lines of "being the shameless media slut that I am..."  (not sure if I said that, or if you did...)
(Mark] We met at the 2010 GABF. Many beers, many stories, and many laughs were had in a very short amount of time.
BW: Indeed the 2010 GABF was our shining moment to meet and make the beer world a much better place. It was a blast of late nights, brunches and fun filled shameless media slutiness! I met the Gregoria afterwards which made me warm and fuzzy knowing there was a Happy Hour Guy right here in my state (that guy, over there, with the "name")

BW: What is this "Happy Hour Guy" you speak of anyway? How did he come to be? What is his purpose?

[Mark]  The Happy Hour Guy is someone who loves craft and adventure-- craft beer, obviously, but any craft beverage including bourbon, whisky, wine, you name it.
An HHG cares about where he drinks and who he drinks with. 
Really , we think everyone has a Happy Hour Guy inside of them. We just help them find that inner HHG.

[Jimmy] The Happy Hour Guy has always wanted to show the world the breadth of choices out there now for drinkers - and not just beer, but the endless variety of flavors across all types of Craft Bevs. People can get very 'stuck in a rut' in their drinking habits; the Happy Hour Guy's job is to bust that rut wide open, and make people brave.

[JG] We are all Happy Hour Guys (and Gals). Wherever there is good drink, food, and friends, there will be a Happy Hour Guy. 

BW: Some of you guys are actors, as in, like, the professional kind (not the porn kind--I am assuming this of course because Joe Gregoria sounds like a porn name to me so maybe I'm missing out on something).  Has that always been your respective career goals? I know Mark is in the newly revived and popular Newsies and it sounds like Jimmy is in sunny Florida for a show now (lucky bastard). What's next for you, acting-wise? (if you must know, I was president of the Drama club in high school and played everything from Rizzo to well...pretty much any "comic relief" character you can think of for four years.)

[Jimmy]  Yes, the other 'hook' of The Happy Hour Guys is that Mark and I are pro Broadway Actors, with lots of time on Broadway "boards" to our credit. We've also often worked out of town, and the cameras are always with us.  I was on a national tour a couple of years ago, and we added several new states to our list and saw some really cool places.  
Acting-wise, I've been lucky enough to be released from the Polar Vortex this winter - I'm in  Vero Beach, FL doing a small 4 person musical called Closer Than Ever. For me there are several projects circling for when I'm back to NYC (where Mark and I are based) - just waiting to see which one lands. Wherever they take me, you can be sure THHG cameras will follow.

[Mark] As far as acting goes, I plan on sticking it out with Newsies for a while more. I go on TV auditions and continue to work on HHG. Honestly, having my "day job" be a Broadway show is better than I could have imagined.

[JG] All I can say is, I have pictures. And video.  If Mark or Jimmy ever run for public office, I’ll be setting up a tap room of my own.
BW: You know I love you best, right Porn Star?

BW: Whoops! empty glasses! what's next for you from our taps?

[Mark] Next up? Gulo Gulo please!! I've become a big IPL fan.

[Jimmy] Make that two. IPL me, baby. (wink wink)  Uh, hello? Is this thing on?
BW: Sucking up. Nicely played (see what they are doing to us Gregoria? They know that is my "go to brew")
[JG] This is taking way longer than I thought it would. I need to keep my wits about me. Do you have any early Greenthumb stashed away in the back room?
BW: For you? Depends on how you behave.

BW: So...craft beer....is that your fav of all the "happy hour options" or do you prefer the hard stuff? (watch it Gregoria, I know how your mind works). If so, why?

[Jimmy] I'm a HUGE Craft Beer fan... but I actually got started in the Booze Biz as a bartender, then doing marketing work for Johnnie Walker; I spent time in Scotland touring the 28 different distilleries that Walker owns. I remember only some of this...and I still have a great love for Scotch. Well, most brown liquors actually.
BW: Score one for the Michigan Man. I am a bourbon girl, through and through. 
[Mark] I think given a choice, I would almost always choose a craft beer. That said, there are times that call for a great bourbon.
BW: Yes, there always are.
[JG] I’m a Malt Man. (sung to the tune of Otis Redding’s “Love Man” – “Which one of you beers want me to hold you?”)  That’s why I love the District 16 (um…er…Wolverine Amber Lager) so much. It’s all about balance, and I like my beer leaning to the sweet side. I am a fan of scotch (on the sweeter side, peat reminds me of the smell of a hockey locker room), and I’m just starting some of the amazing bourbons that THHG’s brought back from our recent trip down the Bourbon Trail. My current fav is Buffalo Trace’s Elmer T. Lee.  (note that I did not take the bait, Miss “Dear-Penthouse-Letters”.  Phfft.)
BW: Aaaaand circling back around to you dear. I too am a fan of the Elmer T. Lee but my sipping bourbon will always be Basil Heyden (because I can't afford Pappy Van Winkle)

BW: What are some of your all time favorite beer places to visit (MY place being an assumed #1 of course)?
[Mark] Some all time favorites? Wow. So many to choose from. For me, it almost always comes back to the people I met while drinking their beer or enjoying their bar. With that in mind, some favorites are The Alchemist, Cape Anne Brewing, Breckenridge Brewing, Victory Brewing, Alewife NYC, Beer Culture NYC, Great Lost Bear, Founders, New Holland, Jameson Tavern,Slippery Noodle, Sun King, Peekskill Brewing….I could go on and on.
BW: Love New Holland. I am actually hoping to make a beer/broadway trek to NYC later this year. We'll talk more about how you'll help me with that.

[Jimmy] What Mark said. After I've started at Wolverine.
BW: yes. that.
[JG] I like to take amazing beers to amazing places. Of course, WSBC beer has accompanied us on more than one trip around town and around MI.  But two years ago we were up shooting episodes in the UP, and wandered up to Grand Marais, MI and the Lake Superior Brewing Company.  The food was excellent, the beer brewed on-site, and the views were fantastic. We snagged a couple of growlers, took them back to our campsite on Lake Michigan, and toasted the most amazing sunset in the history of the universe. Good places, good people, good beer.  You can’t beat it. 

BW: There is a "Michigan connection" here as well, right? Tell us about that.

[Jimmy] I'm a proud Yooper (Iron River, MI) that somehow found his way to NYC and Broadway. Pretty sure there are only like 6 of us who've done that in the history of Mankind. And after 20 years in NYC I still, on some level, consider myself a Yooper.  I'm also a Michigan grad (GO BLUE!)

[Mark] My Michigan connection? Jimmy, Joe, you and all of the great MI beer I've discovered in the last few years.

[JG] Jimmy and I met twenty-mumble-mumble years ago right here in Ann Arbor at The U. We were both auditioning for the Michigan Marching Band. We made it, spent 4 years in band together, lived together for 2 of them, and the rest is history. His family is mine, and mine his; I think I visited his parents more than he did last year. I met Mark through Jimmy (I can’t remember when, it was some fancy show or other; I think there was vodka involved).
BW: Damn, I knew we had yet another connection. We are all band geeks! I played the flute and slung a flag around some. 

BW: Finally, where are the Happy Hour Guys headed next (literally and figuratively)? And why is the porn star here anyway? (i.e. what is Gregoria's role? He's the local color or just the "talent" if you know what I mean?)

[Jimmy] We're always producing great episodes (which you can see at http://thehappyhourguys.com) and we have several irons in the fire - one goal has always been to find the right Cable relationship and produce for Cable TV. We've had quite a bit of interest but we're waiting for the right fit.  Who knows? Maybe 2014 will be the year. In terms of places... Mark?

[Mark] We are always looking for the next adventure. Where will it be specifically? The Pacific Northwest is calling. And New Orleans. And Ireland. Those are high on the list.  

[JG] We go where the beer takes us.  And my role is to be colorful. And apparently to take a beating by wenchies like you. Actually I'm adjunct faculty, to seek out new craft forms, and report back to the Happy Hour Nation about the amazing things people are doing wherever I stumble on awesomeness. I also drive the van when we’re out on assignment, and run the cameras.
BW: Awww….sweetie, we are the "comic relief" remember? And you have a porn name. What could be better?

[Jimmy] Also, Joe was very 'popular' in College because he can do this unbelievable thing with his-

[JG] Shut up, Jimmy.

[Jimmy] Right.
BW: No fair. 

BW: Nightcap time, what's your poison?
[Jimmy]  Massacre.
[Mark]  Nightcap? I'm going to go with an Elmer T Lee, one of my favorite bourbons.
BW: NO…no. no. no….nothing but beer. (you knew that. I'll let it slide since you're gonna get me show tickets when I come to the City)
[JG]  Massacre me (like you haven’t already…)
BW: Later love, after the kids are asleep.