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The Extremist: Oh, the brews you can choose

BY WALTER NOWINSKI

Published January 29, 2007

If you want a beer a little more interesting than the ones on tap at your typical Friday night fraternity party, there is no place in Ann Arbor with a better selection of premium beers than Ashley's Restaurant and Pub on State Street.

Typical bar staples like Budweiser, Miller and Coors aren't available, though - meaning that visitors have to venture a little farther afield to quench their thirst.

Ashley's has Ann Arbor's largest multi-tap bar, with 70 beers on tap and dozens more available in bottles.

Ashley's catalogues its beers in a somewhat daunting drink menu, complete with a ranking system to give patrons an idea of each beer's flavor and color.

Even when submerged in an ocean of new and different beers, though, many patrons seem to gravitate towards familiar choices - which is why Bell's Winter White is the best selling beer at Ashley's.

Manager Andrew Draganski said the bar sells about 350 pints of this tangy, yellow wheat beer every month during the winter.

During the summer months, the brewery switches over to the well-known Oberon wheat beer - which is Ashley's best-selling summer brew.

Draganski said the bar always keeps one keg each of all beers on tap, plus two backup barrels of the Winter White. Fresh kegs are delivered to the pub twice a week.

Nick Klaus, a waiter at Ashley's, said many people tend to order beers with names they know, which is why Bell's beers sell so well at the pub.

Strongbow, a widely available hard cider, is Ashley's second most popular offering, with about 250 pints sold each month.

"On the weekends we sell a lot of Strongbow to girls," Klaus said.

The third best-selling beer is another brew from Bell's Brewery, the Two Hearted India Pale Ale. The Two Hearted is a dark gold beer, which the menu describes as having an "incredible floral hop aroma."

Draganski said the three most popular beers account for about 15 percent of Ashley's total beer sales.

None of them, though, are among the bar's most "extreme" beers, he said.

That title belongs to Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, which Ashley's beer menu calls "the world's strongest dark beer."

WALTER NOWINSKI


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