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October 20, 2011 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2011-10-20

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8B Thursday, October 20. 2011/ The B-Side
Beyond the basic brew at Ashley's
Tapping into the philosophy behind
Ann Arbor's own beer mecca
By Dhruv Madeka ( Daily Arts Writer . g I i'

Looking at the winding line
across its State Street entrance,
someone could easily confuse
Ashley's for an ordinary college
bar, one overcrowded with under-
graduates buying large pitchers of
PBR or Natty Ice.
Of course, the distinct and com-
pelling aroma that comes from
the range of craft beers offered
by the bar washes away most of
these assumptions. With a dimly
lit atmosphere whose retro feel
is only enhanced by the jukebox
standing in the corner, it's clear
that Ashley's is just not another
college bar. This establishment
doesn't deal much in generic
drinks - in fact, it doesn't even
keep Bud Light or Miller Lite on
tap - and it's become a stronghold
of the craft beer revolution in Ann

The craft beer movement
revolves around a deviation from
the mass-produced beverages
that currently dominate the sales
market. It's mainly comprised of
small, independent breweries that
produce a lower quantity of high
quality beer - exactly the kind
Ashley's retails.
As the winner of the 2011 click-
ondetroit.com Best Beer Selec-
tion award, Ashley's features
Ann Arbor's largest selection of
beers - 72 beers on tap and a con-
stantly changing rotating tap that
has 10 more options. These selec-
tions range from those meant to
appease the lager drinker, to more
full-bodied complex ones - all
ingrained with a variety of tastes
that include chocolaty, fruity and
bitter flavors. And these beers
aren't just from Michigan, either;

Ashley's has 72 beers on tap and a rotating tap with 10 additional options.


they hail from all over the world,
including countries as far as
Japan, Belgium and England.
one of Ashley's staff T-shirts
reads: "Friends don't let friends
drink cheap beer," and this is
certainly true of the establish-
ment. With the average pint
priced at about $5.25 and going
all the way up to $18, it isn't the
most inexpensive place to con-
sume a large quantity of beer.
Ashley's senior manager Carmen
Fernando believes this is part
of the reason it doesn't see too
many undergraduate visitors.
Maybe because the bar is more
often frequented by graduate
students and a generally older
crowd, it isn't loud and usually
has a more relaxed atmosphere
than Scorekeepers Sportsgrill
& Pub or Good Time Charley's.
However, Fernando believes
that as the craft movement has
grown, more and more under-
graduates are heading toward
the more sophisticated bar.
"I feel like it is beginning to

catch on with the undergraduates
because they do realize that it's a
matter of quality," Fernando said.
"You can come in here, and you
may pay $6 for a pint when you
could get a pitcher somewhere
else. ButI think that as the appre-
ciation of craft beer ... is growing,
we're getting a wider clientele."
The bar also features a number
of on-going promotional events
thatintend to celebrate the prover-
bial "beer snob." Its well-known
"Ultimate Beer Tour" is open to
anyone and rewards registered
participants for trying the wide
selection of Ashley's beverages.
An individual who tries more than
100 beers on the menu is deemed
a "Beer Hunter" and gets his or
her name etched on a board by the
entrance. The bar also sponsors
festivals throughout the year, like
Michigan Cask Ale Festival at its
larger satellite location in West-
land, Mich.
But Ashley's doesn't just wel-
come "beer snobs." If a student
walked into the bar and asked

the server for a recommendation,
that server would usually turn the
question back on the customer.
The server would then use the
bar's sample system to guide the
student toward a taste he or she
enjoyed, whether it's a malt beer
or a Belgian-ale with a distinct
fruity flavor.
"We don't want to serve you
what we like to drink." Fernando
said. "My staff is very educated
and very good at feeling each per-
son out. They may ask what they
usually drink, or what they're
used to drinking or what flavors
they're used to drinking. Because
we have such a range, you can
always find something that person
may like."
The walls of Ashley's are lined
with more beer bottles than even
a math major would dare count,
and they have all been sold at some
point in its 28 years in Ann Arbor.
Perhaps that's why Ashley's still
sees an influx of patrons from day
to day, even when students retreat
home for the holidays.

From Page 4B
of realness to them one day
- possibly the amazing heart-
shaped PB&J that materialized
in their lunch box - could be
missing the next. We are them,

but with a slightly different ver-
sion of reality to compare what
we experience.
Is this real life? I think so.
What's real is that this phrase is
one of our generation's mecha-
nisms of coping with the world
spitting out prettiness and ugliness
all around us. We like the multiple

layers of reality in "Inception" and
the out-of-couch, ridiculous nature
of"reality" TV.We are surely fasci-
nated by the concept on the scale of
our own lives, too.
Smith-Eppsteiner just gothome
from the dentist. She's out of it, so
e-mail her at julialix@umic.edu,

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