OT: Best IPA in A~2?

Submitted by hokiewolf on August 25th, 2010 at 7:46 AM

Calling all beeries.  Help!

I'll be in Ann Arbor for one precious night on Sunday.  It's been a while.  I'm familiar with Arbor's tap line-up, and Grizzly Peak and Original Gravity down in Milan (which is well worth the trip).  

I may not have time for a full-on pub crawl.  How would you rank these new(er) candidates for dinner and a tasting?

Blue Tractor

Jolly Pumpkin

Corner Brewery (Ypsi) 

Did Wolverine ever open?

I'm an IPA fan first and foremost, and also a fan of american pale ales and amber ales. 




August 25th, 2010 at 8:10 AM ^

I enjoy their Sacred Cow IPA - They have the location in downtown AA, and I believe they also own the Corner Brewery in Ypsi you list. 

I also like the Jolly Pumpkin and would recommend stopping by there. These two and Grizzly are all located within short distance of one another.


August 25th, 2010 at 9:53 AM ^

Only $3 at ABC, Ashleys sometimes has hand-pulled casked Dogfish Head 90 Min which was absolutley unbelievable.

But the best IPA (and IPAs are all I drink) I've had in AA is the Golden Manitee Belipagos from Jolly Pumpkin. I'm not sure if it is a standard feature there, but call ahead and find out because it is unlike any other IPA.


August 25th, 2010 at 8:17 AM ^

Grizzly Peak's summer beer, the Farmer's Daughter I think it's called, is a delicious IPA and is quite close to Bell's Two Hearted, which I feel is one of the best beers in America.


If they still have it on tap, def try it out

Still in AA

August 25th, 2010 at 8:17 AM ^

I prefer the food and beer at Jolly Pumpkin over the Blue Tractor.  The beer at the Blue Tractor doesn't distinguish itself from any other beer I've had.


August 25th, 2010 at 3:48 PM ^

I haven't lived in Ann Arbor since 2006, but every time I'm back in town for a game I make a trip to ABC and GP (and bring home a growler from GP).

My wife and I went to Blue Tractor after the Purdue game last year and weren't impressed. It wasn't bad, but the other options beat it out easily in our book.

His Dudeness

August 25th, 2010 at 8:24 AM ^

Whatever IPA Grizzly Peak is featuring is probably pretty good. Or just fall back on the Two Hearted by Bells or Centenial IPA by Founders, both are really about the best you will find anywhere. I like Stone Ruination (Ashley's on tap), but that is damn hoppy (and hella strong).


August 25th, 2010 at 8:24 AM ^

Not sure if they have an IPA at Jolly Pumpkin, but the beer there--mostly (strong) belgian-style beer--is really awesome.  Think high-end pub fare--good burger (if ordered medium, medium-rare) with a thick slice of gooey cheese, excellent brick oven pizzas.  I believe both the brewer and the chef are Grizzly Peak alums.

And, BTW, there's this:


Hemlock Philosopher

August 25th, 2010 at 8:32 AM ^

I would suggest Hemlock Philosopher's The Categorical ImBEERative, but I haven't opened my brewery in A2 yet (my dream).  Other than that, Sacred Cow (ABC) had been the best for a long time, but I think they switched from the Chinook hops and it lost it's grapefruity bitterness (unless they just made a bad batch last fall when I was there). 


Ashley's will satisfy your needs for variety, but I'd try to hit Grizzly and ABC i nthe downtown area as well.  The Corner in Ypsi is ABC's distribution site - so the beer should be the same.  

Hope this helps.  Enjoy the best town in America!


August 25th, 2010 at 8:55 AM ^

Jolly Pumpkin has an interesting wheat IPA on tap right now that is worth trying.  Much as I like Corner Brewery, as mentioned above it is owned by the same folks as Arbor Brewing and has pretty much the same beers on tap.


August 25th, 2010 at 9:06 AM ^

I think they have the best food out of the brewpubs in town, but I am not a fan of their beer.  Others obviously disagree.  Sacred Cow is a solid IPA.  If you want something really special, look for Crooked Tree from Dark Horse or Short's Huma Lupa Licious.  Last time I checked both were on tap at the Arena.  (Note: the Arena's food is standard pub fare.)


August 25th, 2010 at 9:53 AM ^

Jolly Pumpkin is known for Belgian style ales that are often a little funky - they are unusual flavors for your average beer drinker. However, they are done very, very well, so if you're into Belgian style or sour ales, they are definitely worth a visit. I haven't had a chance to visit their brewpub in Ann Arbor yet, but I've sampled several of their beers and not been disappointed. I've always had a soft spot for their La Roja for some reason.

P.S. of the brewpubs I've been to in AA, I'd go with Grizzly Peak for best combination of beer and (very good) food - ABC's beers are a bit better, but I like the food at Griz a lot better. Blue Tractor is pretty good BBQ, but nothing crazy on the beer end and a bit less variety on the menu. Ashley's is of course a beer drinker's mecca, but don't brew their own - you can get most of what they have with reasonable ease in a good bottle shop (but not on tap, of course).


August 25th, 2010 at 10:22 AM ^

You know, I love beer, in many varieties, and I want to support local business, but I just can't get into what JP is doing with their beer.  I like about 3 oz of each beer, and then I'm over the taste.  To each his own, I suppose.  It's too early for a beer now, right?


August 25th, 2010 at 9:25 AM ^

But unfortunately it's been a while since I've gone sampling across town (stupid living 650 miles away).

On a semi-related note, if you ever get the chance get Dogfish Head's Indian Brown Ale.  My new favorite.  Great hops taste but filled out well with some excellent malt.  Tis delicious.


August 25th, 2010 at 9:39 AM ^

I pick up growlers from them on occasion.  It may not be convienent on your short schedule, but it's darn good beer.  It will be my choice for beer while watching Michigan football games.  I wouldn't necessarily eat there, from what I hear it's not to-die-for but it's not bad.  If I had to choose one of the choices for best all-around, I would go with Grizzly Peak.


August 25th, 2010 at 9:44 AM ^

ABC's beer is just OK to me (the atmosphere and foodt are below OK), and try as I might, I can't get myself to really like Jolly Pumpkin's stuff.

I'm Mug Club with Grizzly Peak, but in all honesty, their IPA is just alright. None of the Ann Arbor breweries seem to have a killer, house made IPA.

I would hit up Ashleys and try the IPAs from Bell's, Founders, Dark Horse and New Holland. Have them make you a custom flight of Michigan IPAs. I think that might be your best bet at getting a hop high. They also have DFH 90 minute IPA on cask, so that's awesome.


August 25th, 2010 at 10:24 AM ^

I'd second the lack of a great home-grown IPA in Ann Arbor. I think Sacred Cow from ABC is my favorite, but it's not stellar. The few times I've tried them, Grizzly's IPAs have been meh - just not a fan of their hop blend I think (I love their Bear Paw Porter, however).

I'd also second that there are a lot of good Michigan IPAs out there, so if you're dead set on IPAs, a Michigan flight at Ashley's would be a good bet.


September 7th, 2010 at 9:42 AM ^

13 years ago Arbor Brewing was great beer. Since then, though, Michigan beers have gotten so good that ABC has sunk down the rankings to the middle.

I have great memories of ABC nights, and trips to Ashley's, but now your time is better spent elsewhere in the area if you want truly great beers.

I think this means I am getting old.


August 25th, 2010 at 10:09 AM ^

One thing that has not yet been mentioned is that Jolly Pumpkin also carries beer from North Peak Brewing up in Traverse City on draft.  They make a killer Amber Ale called Siren, that is very nicely hopped as well as their IPA which is called Diabolocal, which IIRC, is available at Ashley's now too.  That is where my recommendation starts.  IMO, there is nothing special about ABC (and thus, Corner Brewing-same stuff).  I dont think Wolverine has opened yet.  I think the rep at the beer festival said they were hoping for September.  Blue Tractor, I like quite a bit, but the IPA there is rather lackluster (great BBQ though, IMO)

I'm not always in the mood for the belgian style (I am ALWAYS in the mood for an IPA) and these are, without a doubt, the best around.  They are also available at Grizzly Peak or Blue Tractor, but in bottle only.

At Grizzly Peak, their IPA is on cask and is quite tasty, but for hopheads like us, I would recommend the pale ale instead actually.  Duncan was working on a well hopped wheat which think may have been released by now, but I'm not 100% sure.

I love Ashley's but the staff there have really gone down tubes recently.  There are a couple gems, but the rest just suck.

I miss the beer scene in AA, I just moved to Chicago and it sucks here in comparison. 


September 7th, 2010 at 9:47 AM ^

At the risk of being an old fart, 15 years ago when I was a student the service there was great. Knowledgable staff bringing great beers. Thurs and Sat nights would be rough, but that was because there were wall to wall customers.

It is sad to see where the Ashley's staff has sunk to.

Bando Calrissian

August 25th, 2010 at 10:09 AM ^

Bell's Two Hearted pretty much ruins my desire to drink any other IPA.  Because nothing else is ever nearly as good.  And, as mentioned, Hopslam is gold.

FWIW, I've found Blue Tractor's beers to be mostly pretty bad. 


September 7th, 2010 at 9:51 AM ^

Two Hearted is great beer, I love it. My wife, though, loves IPAs but not the hop profile of Bells. I brew my own clone of Two Hearted but skip the dry hopping of the centennial hops, and it comes out with a english IPA taste we both can enjoy.

Ditto on Blue Tractor, great food, but beers are not wonderful across the board. Good Bock and Dunkel.



September 6th, 2010 at 11:26 PM ^

d. - I just went to Chicago this weekend and landed at Kasey's in the south loop after attending the Bash on Wabash. They have a lot of good beer on tap. Was able to side-by-side compare 2-hearted with the Green Flash from Cali. What a treat! It's no Ashley's but a fine watering hole.