Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ashley’s of Westland hosts 2014 Brewery Throwdown

Written by  Erik Smith
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 Ashley’s of Westland hosts 2013 Brewery Throwdown

For the third year in a row, Ashley’s of Westland is hosting a friendly competition featuring eight different breweries. The field this year contains a great mixture of both long-time favorites and some up and comers. Five of the eight are Michigan breweries, and the other three do a fine job of representing the rest of the country. The first round will feature four beers from each brewery, with the winner being determined by the total glasses sold. The second round features 6 beers per brewery, and the final round will feature eight. In the past, many of the breweries participating have brought a nice combination of their standards as well as highly sought after ones, sometimes even beers never served outside of their own brewpubs. One of the most exciting parts of the two previous throwdowns has been the opportunity it has provided for Ashley’s customers to interact with personnel from the breweries who are on hand.
The event kicked off January 8th with a match up between two Western Michigan breweries, Arcadia Brewing Company of Battle Creek and Paw Paw Brewing Company. Arcadia is one ofMichigan’s oldest microbreweries, having been established in 1996, while Paw Paw is a upstart, having been established in 2010.

The second match up was on January 15th features Detroit-based Atwater Brewing, a Southeastern Michigan standard since their inception in 1997, versus the only brewery to return from the 2012 throwdown, Long Island’s Blue Point Brewing Company.

January 22nd’s third first-round match up pits two well-known breweries from the Western United States against each other. Epic Brewing of Salt Lake City, Utah, is the state’s first microbrewery specializing in strong beers, ones like the founders of the company had admired from California that were not allowed to be brewed in Utah until the law changed in 1998. Their opponent is Lagunitas Brewing Company of Petaluma, California, one of the state’s most highly reputed microbreweries, famous for their unique interpretations of popular styles.

The first round concludes with a battle between two of Michigan’s most popular microbreweries. Dark Horse Brewing Company of Marshall and Right Brain Brewing of Traverse City are names most Michigan beer drinkers are familiar with. Dark Horse has been around since the mid-90s, and has been the recipient of a number of awards and beer medals. While Right Brian has only been around since 2008, they’ve been brewing an impressive number of unique and popular beers.

The Brewery Throwdown takes a month off while Ashley’s hosts it’s annual Belgian Beer Festival (February 6th-16th), but resumes with the semi-final clashes taking place on February 26th and March 12th, culminating in the Finals on April 16th. This years winner will join 2012 Champion, Short’s, and 2013 Champion, Greenbush, in the Celebration of Champions Event on May 24th, which will feature 10 beers from each of the Champions.

The lineup for each throwdown, as well as other pertinent details will be announced a few days in advance on Ashley’s Facebook page. Ashley’s is hosting a NCAA Tournament-style Bracket Competition with prizes being awarded to the overall winner, as well as anyone who can predict all four first-round winners. For the bracket and rules- follow this link.

While being billed as a competition, it’s a friendly one, because as Ashley’s theme for the event says- “With Good Beer, Everyone Wins.” 

Erik Smith

Erik Smith

Erik Smith is a relative newcomer to craft beer, having first been turned on to the scene by a chance encounter with "The End of The World" (Unibroue's La Fin du Monde) during the summer of 2011. Since then, he has increased that love of beer by serving as the 'un-official' photographer for the many beer events at Ashley's in Westland, MI. His goal is to visit every Michigan brewery. An avid traveler, beer tourism has played a prominent role in his travels since 2012. 

Find him on Untapped at eriksmithdotcom and at his blog at http://onmyfeetorinmymind.com/