The Best Beer Bars in Detroit
It's not terribly hard to find great beer in Detroit (let alone the entire state) these days, so it's about time we start getting picky about where we choose to drink it. From a German bar that's been around since the '30s, to the area's first-ever bottle store, here are the best bars to drink craft beers, whether you like 'em local or from the other side of the world.
Aside from hoarding one of Michigan’s largest tap selections, HopCat offers over 100 varieties, including the Local 30, a curated list of our state’s finest brews. Don't expect to find Bud here -- the franchise is vehemently anti-Anheuser-Busch. Pop in to one of HopCat's regular tap takeovers, most recently highlighting Rockford's own Rockford Brewing, and a record fair in collaboration with Dogfish Head.
Amidst the courthouses and people in suits and ties, you'll find the upscale Wright & Company. You know that any place that lists its sour beers in order of intensity is going to be one that takes its beer seriously. Along with its fine selection of sours, Wright & Company takes care to highlight its lager selection -- a bold move, as most places lump these understated beers in with everything else, ignoring the flavor profiles. Don’t go without trying the food -- the chef, Marc Djozlija, worked under Wolfgang Puck for 20 years and has been nominated for a James Beard Award.
8 Degrees Plato is literally wall-to-wall beer. You couldn’t swing a dried hop bushel without hitting a can or bottle of beer, from Founders to Right Brain to imports to ciders and everything in between. There are many great craft beer stores in Michigan, but this is the only of its kind in Detroit, and it has a tasting area. The selection changes over by the day, but our most recent visit turned up over a dozen beers ready to drink while we browsed the stacks upon stacks of beer.
Firebird Tavern devotes its list to Michigan beers, but also has a nice selection of imports and domestics, including Dragonmead’s Final Absolution, Right Brain’s Firestarter Chipotle Porter, and Griffin Claw’s Norm's Raggedy Ass IPA. Great atmosphere and very friendly staff round out an altogether pleasant experience.
The Cadieux Cafe is best known for its feather bowling, a sport that's been compared to curling, horseshoes, and bocce. But take note of its beer selection: if you're looking for a solid Belgian, this is the place to be. Corsendonk and Chimay are on the menu, along with Delirium Tremens and a saison from Brewery Vivant. The food is nothing to scoff at, either, with Belgian rabbit, beer stew, and buckets of mussels.
The Dakota Inn opened its doors in 1933 and has been a local staple since. The menu is a prospectus of German dishes best accompanied by none other than German beer, nine on tap and 25 in bottles. This indispensable bar hosts sing-a-longs and regular events that encourage one to put on a chicken hat and dance around like a fool. So we’ve heard.
Yeah, it's a sandwich shop, but Mudgie’s outstanding 100+ craft beer selection holds its own. Find anything from a barley wine from Evil Twin to a Berliner Weisse from Freigeist Kopenickiade to Bell’s Smitten Rye Ale to Leelanau’s Illuminati Stout on this frequently updated menu.
Honorable mentions: this list wouldn't be complete without giving these bars a nod: Woodbridge Pub near Wayne State, Jacoby’s German Biergarten in Bricktown, Town Pump Tavern and The Park Bar in the Theater District, and Grand Trunk Pub Downtown.
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Patti F. Smith is a teacher by day and writer by night in the best city in the world -- Ann Arbor! She spent weeks researching this article because she believes in suffering for her art. Follow her at @WriterPattiFS.