Arbor Brewing shows adventurous side at Michigan Summer Beer Fest

Tom Gromak
The Detroit News
Jon Wagner, head brewer at Arbor Brewing Co., of Ann Arbor.

New things are on tap at Arbor Brewing. Lots of them.

A dry brut IPA called "I am Broot." Tart sours. Flavored stouts. And more than a dozen are on display at the Arbor Brewing tent at the Michigan Brewers’ Guild Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti’s Riverside Park.

The festival runs today and Saturday and features more than 150 Michigan brewers and more than 1,100 Michigan-made beers.

For Arbor, the innovation goes well beyond the weekend. It started in earnest when Arbor, a longtime Ann Arbor brewery and brewpub, joined forces in 2017 with Farm + Ferment, owners of the Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina brand.

The result is a decidedly more adventurous and experimental brewing culture with a strong focus on the science of brewing.

“When they came on board, it enabled is to make some improvements to quality that we always wanted to do,” head brewer Jon Wagner said Friday at the festival. A new canning line. New centrifuges for purifying product. A quality lab “where we’re literally looking at it under a microscope.”

“It’s enabled us to take the next step,” he said.

The Arbor Brewing tent at the Michigan Brewers' Guild Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti Friday.

At the same time, the brewery looked over its lineup of longtime products, pruning some, making some, like Sacred Cow, into draft-only lines, and adding variants like this year’s “Tilted Earth IPA” seasonal series. The spring issue was a rye IPA. Summer’s variant is a session wheat IPA. Fall will bring a red IPA. And, this winter, Wagner promises a hazy, almost-double New England IPA that’s a takeoff on an as-yet-unnamed Arbor Brewing classic.

“Then it’s 2019, and we do it all over again,” he said.

The beer festival lineup is even broader: A cherry stout. A strawberry daiquiri sour called “Mom Jeans.” A "Girl Named Egypt" double IPA with elderflower, peach and passion fruit.

“We’re just trying some new things, trying to crank out some new variants. We’re having fun with it,” said Wagner.

Arbor Brewing is pouring its beers in the so-called “back 40” of the summer beer festival, running through Saturday evening.