There is no better way to get to know the microbrewery scene in any given location than by brute force...visit them all, that is! Have a craft beer sampler, take in the unique atmosphere, enjoy the music of beer drinkers, and try some of the creative food choices, which often accompany eclectic beer styles. I am establishing the great breweries of Detroit in the annals of Examiner.com in proper fashion. Each Wednesday I will be reviewing another microbrewery, hopefully doing justice to what I know will be series of great experiences.
Acoustic notes resonate as I approach the entrance of Sherwood Brewing Company. Hardly a reflection of the famed forest, this hallowed hollow is sunk deep in the recess of a small shopping center on Hayes Road just north of Hall Road (20 Mile) unbeknownst to most passersby. The only marketing of Sherwood I have seen has been through Michigan Brewers Guild events and propaganda. The establishment may not need to advertise as the lively local crowd is warmly radiant. The smell of malt and pizza fills the air, calling my name, begging me to break my diet. On this Wednesday night, Sherwood offers a great atmosphere including a live band playing modern renditions of blues classics, an above-bar projected television drawing the attention of Tigers fans, and a very friendly wait staff, each of which wearing shorts or a skirt much more scant than dropping Michigan fall temperatures might permit.
I choose a booth in the corner where I can take in the entire scene and I can’t see the strange looks I get for pounding away on my laptop in a brewery at 9:30 in the evening. Erica, my server, quickly greets me, and not a moment later lays seven 5 ounce glasses of beer on the table with descriptive cards spinning the tale of each. The Alaskan Sister wit bier is a year-round classic. For those less-adventurous, the Mulligan Cream Ale, a lighter pale, pale ale, provides the quality of a craft beer made with Olde English care, but a traditional pilsner-like consistency with greater malty sweetness and very subtle hop character. The Abbeyversary Ale is a Belgian-like beer fermented with English and Belgian yeast released on Sherwood’s anniversary each year. The Hemp Ale is also a yearly mainstay, and is a slightly hoppier pale ale brewed with toasted hemp seeds. A cream ale brewed with strawberries and lemons, Disco Lemonade is designed for a palate that appreciates fruity beer styles. One Trick Pony is a malty light session ale, with English flavor absorbed by the yeasts with which it is fermented. A sweet brown porter with honey notes, Entire Buzz is more sweet than bitter. Winter will beget much stronger Irish stouts and the like, but Sherwood has a beer on tap to tease the taste buds no matter your preference.
Brewmaster and namesake Ray Sherwood hails from Kuhnhenn’s brewing lineage and established Sherwood Brewing Company in a 2006 venture. He also boasts fellow journalist status with his stint with Great Lakes Brewing News. Along with up-and-coming assistant brewmaster, Shark, Ray continues to put out a random array of beers all year long appealing to the desire for diversity in every craft beer enthusiast.
Sherwood Brewing Company is known for its pizza. If the night were earlier, and if I weren’t flying solo, I would absolutely indulge in one of their specialty pies. Gourmet burgers, salads, homestyle chili, and some traditional English fare such as fish and chips and other beer battered…things adorn the menu. The kitchen closes at 10:00pm, so hurry in to catch the main menu or be at the mercy of the late night menu saturated with fried food.
Weekday specials keep the customers rolling in on off-nights. Mug Club members get discounts each Monday, trivia and growler discounts highlight Tuesday’s offerings, I’m taking advantage of Brews-and-Blues Wednesdays, and use the password listed on Sherwood’s website to get your first pint free on Thursdays. Ladies, visit Sherwood on Thursdays between 7pm to close and receive half off all beer and wine. Phew! Enough pitching Sherwood’s great weekday specials…enjoy live music on most Fridays and free WiFi all day every day.
Growlers and specials are almost always available, so stop by Sherwood Brewing Company and chat up the locals and the staff, who definitely know their beer (Erica, my server, gave me a rundown of the history of the resurgence of the American microbrew). Get yourself up to Shelby Towhship, try the wit, and have one for me!