Friday, July 20, 2007

Ann Arbor and warm beer

For this week's issue of Metro Times, the editorial staff took a thermometer to 104 Detroit-area bars to find the coldest beer around. In first place was Lime Light Grill & Bar in Warren, which sells an aluminum bottle of Budweiser cooled to 25.1 degrees for $3.50. (The bar uses Anheuser-Busch's "Chill Chamber," a sophisticated machine that makes shitty beer in aluminum bottles unnaturally cold and expensive.)

Five Ann Arbor bars made the list, and the results don't look good:

  • #9 - Conor O'Neill's (Coors Light, bottle, $2.50, 31.7 degrees)

  • #89 - Rick's (Bud Light, bottle, $1.50, 43.7 degrees)

  • #91 - The Brown Jug (Miller Lite draft, chilled glass, $2.95, 43.9 degrees)

  • #94 - The Arena (Pabst Blue Ribbon, glass, $2.00, 45.7 degrees)

  • #103 - Ashley's (Stella Artois draft, glass, $5.00, 50.3 degrees.

In the interest of fairness, I called Rick's, the Jug and Ashley's for a response. (I didn't call the Arena because, well, who gives a shit about the Arena?) Bartenders at Rick's and the Jug didn't sound too concerned -- nor should they be. I love Rick's and the Jug for the atmosphere (delightfully trashy and comfortably Michigan, respectively), the $2 pitchers and the $4.25 40s. I won't begrudge them their warm beer.

Ashley's, whose Stella Artois was the second-warmest brew on the list, is the big disappointment here. I couldn't get a bartender on the phone -- after two rings, I got what I believe was a recording of Paul Giamatti asking for bartender applicants -- but I'm assuming they keep their beer above 50 degrees because that's how their specialty Trappists, porters and stouts are meant to be served. Ice-cold beer would clash with the bar's sniffy, grad-student image.

The problem: Stella Artois, like Budweiser, Miller and their ilk, is a pale lager -- a weak-flavored category that, as any beer nerd will tell you, demands to be served near-freezing.

So Ashley's is serving bathwater-warm beer, presumably because they and/or their customers think it's more highbrow that way. Such is Ann Arbor.


Anonymous said...

Ashleys is for dorks.

Anonymous said...

Dorks usually have some taste... Ashleys is for morons.

Phil said...

Ashley's shouldn't have even been on that list. You go there for quality brews, not for swill that has to be ice cold enough to numb its flavor out of your mouth.