Weekend in Ann Arbor

Discussion in 'Great Lakes' started by cratez, Feb 23, 2012.

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  1. cratez

    cratez Savant (984) Sep 23, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    Heading to Ann Arbor in two weeks with some friends. Looks like Ashely’s, Jolly Pumpkin, Arbor Brewing, The Heidelberg, and Liberty Street are the best bars and brewpubs but I have a few questions for the local BAs and anyone who has recently visited the city:

    Are there any spots that you would suggest over the ones listed above?

    Any particular times that are best to visit some of these places i.e. to avoid lineups, get a seat at the bar, be served food, etc?

    Daytime tourist attractions - which ones would you recommend?

    What are the two best "must-visit" bottle shops?

    As always, your help is appreciated. Cheers!
  2. abraxel

    abraxel Initiate (0) Aug 28, 2009 Michigan

    I'd skip the Heidelberg, and perhaps Arbor Brewing (I wish I could say it's an awesome local spot, but the beer is consistently just "okay," though some of their sour series are quite good). Grizzly Peak is a pretty good brewpub, and the Blue Tractor has decent beer and awesome food, if you're into well-made, artery-clogging deliciousness. I'd probably recommend both over Arbor Brewing. Jolly Pumpkin is my choice for food, though. Their flat bread pizza is fantastic.

    Jolly Pumpkin is often crazy busy for dinner, but if you hit them up for lunch (or brunch on weekends -- very highly recommended), you can usually sit down immediately. Ashley's gets busy after 6 or so, but the wait isn't usually too long unless there's a special event. I don't know as much about the traffic elsewhere.

    There aren't tons of tourist attractions around... but it depends what you're into. The university has a few good museums, and I guess Zingerman's is a local institution and has awesome sandwiches (but it has the longest line in Ann Arbor at lunch time, so go at an odd time). The Michigan Theatre is cool and often has interesting things showing. If you'd be interested in sciency things, trust me on this, the Hands On Museum is fascinating and wonderful, as much for adults as kids. Just don't go there drunk :slight_smile:

    As for bottle shops, I'd first go to either the Wine Seller or Plum Market, where they'll have most of what you're interested in at reasonable prices. Then go to Main Street Party Shoppe, where they have a broader selection at unreasonable prices, and you might be able to find something that other stores don't have.

    Hope you enjoy the visit!
  3. dpjosuns

    dpjosuns Initiate (0) Dec 8, 2009 Illinois

    I'm going to echo a lot of what the above poster said. I'd say make Jolly Pumpkin the top as far as brewpubs are concerned, but I love Grizzly Peak and Blue Tractor too! The food at all of them are fantastic and you'll be happy (unless you're a vegetarian going into Blue Tractor). There have been times where I've gotten an app at one, dinner at another, then dessert at a third, so you're good. Arbor Brewing (ABC) is a tough one. I used to go there fairly often, then the beer just wasn't up to snuff, but when I've gone back recently, its been much better, so give it a shot. I would go to the other places for food though.

    A newer brewery is Wolverine Brewing, which is a bit to the west of downtown (you'll need to drive/cab it). They specialize in Lagers, but it's good stuff. No food there though except for places that will deliver to them.

    Ashleys is one of my favorite places in the world. It has a great list (both in bottles and on draft), like many places in Michigan, they have a lot of Michigan beers there and stuff from around the country and world. Many of the taps rotate quite a bit, so you can always get something you've not had there (unless you go as often as I do/did). I've spent many a night glued to a seat there, but if you go it does get busy, so I would go on the earlier side rather than 10 or 11.

    Stuff to do during the day is a bit tougher as abraxel said, but I agree. Yes, I'm biased, but I think the campus is nice to walk around in and walking over by the law/business school is awesome for architecture-y folks as is the Big House. If you want to go into places to EAT, that is a completely different beast (Zingermans, Frita Batidos, Logan, etc).

    Bottle shops: I would do Main Street Party Store or The Beer Depot if you don't feel like driving at all, but if you have access to a car, I would go to the Wine Seller- it's a bit of a drive, but its worth it, usually.

    Liberty Street is good, but you will need to drive out to Plymouth to get there. The beer is pretty good, but IMO if you're pressed for time, I would save it for next time. If you have the time, great. The Heidelberg is a fun joint, but it's not really a craft beer bar. It's loud, there are darts and undergrads. It's fun, but meh compared to the other places you've mentioned.

    Have a great time!
  4. DrDoitchbig

    DrDoitchbig Initiate (0) Jun 6, 2009 Michigan

    Jolly Pumpkin is hands down my favorite place to go in Ann Arbor. I love the food, I love the beer and even when it's crowded the atmosphere seems more laid back than most places in Ann Arbor. You owe it to yourself to get an order of truffle fries or two.

    I would recommend stopping at Grizzly Peak or Wolverine Brewing over Arbor Brewing. I've had nothing but sub par experiences at Arbor Brewing, the food and the beer have been mediocre every time. Grizzly Peak is probably the easiest on your wallet out of all the brewpubs and the food and beer are above average. Wolverine is definitely a little out of the way but I'd say it's worth popping by. Their Gulo Gulo "India Pale Lager" is damn good and I'd probably go there before I went to the Heidelberg.

    Just my 2 cents.
  5. cratez

    cratez Savant (984) Sep 23, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    Appreciate the feedback folks. I'll keep the time suggestions in mind for Ashley's and Jolly Pumpkin, and it sounds like we should hit Grizzly Peak over Arbor Brewing. Wine Seller and Main Street have two recos so we'll probably go with them for bottle shops. We also wanna check out Zingerman's Deli and/or Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger at some point but I'm still trying to figure out if and when we can fit either place in. Liberty Street is on the list because of its high rating and the fact that it's on our way home; we're thinking of heading there on Sunday afternoon for lunch.

    Would I be correct in assuming that Blue Tractor, Wolverine, and Heidelberg are good "fallbacks" if we can't get into or aren't willing to wait for the bars that we have in mind? Thanks again for your help.
  6. adamdd

    adamdd Initiate (0) May 9, 2011 Michigan

    If you've never been to Blimpy's, you should go for the experience. Prepare for it to be a complete gut bomb. Get a triple with a fried egg. Follow the rules of what to order at which station or face the wrath! I agree with all the other suggestions above. Ashley's and Jolly Pumpkin are not to be missed. Grizzly Peak is always decent. Beer Depot is small, but just off Main Street so it has proximity going for it. Another eating option is Angelo's up near the Med School. Zingerman's Deli is great and their Roadhouse (a little drive out to Stadium) can be good although it sometimes gets mixed reviews. Enjoy your trip!
  7. WeisGuy

    WeisGuy Meyvn (1,004) Apr 26, 2006 New York

    Don't bother with Wine Seller if you're only going to a couple bottle shops. Plum Market should be on the top of your list.
  8. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,390) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I have been going to Wolverine more and more these days.

    Arbor can be variable, but the IPA on cask is usaully solid.

    Grizzly peaks is traditional ales that are well made. Above average food.

    Jolly Pumpkin, love the beer, but my wife will not go there again.

    I need to give Ashleys another shot sometime.
  9. DrDoitchbig

    DrDoitchbig Initiate (0) Jun 6, 2009 Michigan

    Yeah and I'd use them as fall backs in that order. I've never been to Blue Tractor but I've heard the food is awesome. It's very close to Grizzly and Jolly Pumpkin so you could get there quickly if you had to change plans.
  10. travMI13

    travMI13 Aspirant (254) Jan 7, 2012 Michigan

    Jolly Pumpkin, Ashley's, and Grizzly Peak (in that order) should not be missed. I would skip Arbor Brewing (ABC) and Blue Tractor. If you head outside city limits, I have heard that Corner Brewing in Ypsilanti is pretty cool, even though it has the same owner and most of the same beers as ABC. If you head even farther toward Plymouth, you should certainly go to Liberty Street. Punkin Pie Ale is great, and it will be on for a couple more weeks. Hermann's two doors down always has good stuff on tap as well as great food. I had an Odd Side Pineapple IPA there tonight.

    Finally, if you go to Plymouth, hit up Box Bar. It is a bit pricey, to be sure, but the selection of bottles is excellent. Cheers!
  11. cratez

    cratez Savant (984) Sep 23, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    You guys have been very helpful. I'll report back in a month or so and let you know how it went! Cheers
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