I like to think of myself as a brave person. I will investigate that strange noise I hear, get up in people’s grills when they need it and generally try to school people when it becomes necessary to do so. However, I’ve got nothing on Phil Wilcox, owner and brewer at The Local Pub & Brewery in Jackson.
You see, when Phil was laid off from his job he didn’t do what I do would do, which is to curl up into a tiny ball under my covers and weep. Well, maybe he did that but he ultimately went for his dream–to own and operate a brewpub. That puts my creeping around the house thinking I’m Omar from The Wire to shame.
The best news in all of this is that the brewpub is awesome! Jeff & I embarked on a 48 hour, 7 brewpub trip a couple of weeks ago. Our first stop was Phil’s place, which is visible from the I-94 in Jackson. The building used to house brewpubs and once was a Schuler’s restaurant. The space is open and airy, with a nice view of the brewing equipment. The bartenders took care of us and Phil came out to eat lunch with us. The pub will focus on session beers (beers with an alcohol by volume [ABV] of less than 5%). Here is what our sampler looked like:
Lightning Kolsch: Nice, crisp lager made with German pils & wheat malts. Smooth finish at 4.46 ABV.
Lucky Penny Alt: Big Munich malts dominated this beer, but it was very well balanced with a smooth hoppy taste. Fun fact that I learned from Phil’s website is that the term “alt” means “old” (Sorry, I took French in high school and college) and derives from the fact that the conservative Rhineland forbid use of the new lager yeast that was going around in the 19th century. Cities like Koln and Dusseldorf had to use the same old yeast strain…get it? Old yeast strain and old = alt. Oy those cwazy Germans!
E.H. Pilsner: This beer is a Classic American Pilsner (CAP), which is a pre-Prohibition beer made with American cluster and Noble Czech hops, giving it a lovely hop presence. The recipe, according to our man Phil, comes from the 1901 American Handy Book of Brewing. This was my favorite beer of the day and, not coincidentally, one of my favorite styles of beer. Prohibition did much damage to our nice little nation but personally, I will never forgive it for stamping out so many great beer recipes and breweries (but that’s another post!)
JaXon IPA: this is an Imperial pale ale, which I’ve heard described as an India Pale Ale on ‘roids. Thus, this was definitely the biggest beer of the day (indeed, this is definitely not a session beer!). Well balanced with a hint of biscuity malts and lots of Amarillo hops. We were delighted to find that this recipe comes from our pal, and fellow Ann Arbor Brewers Guild member, Bob Barrett.
Cork County Irish Stout: Nice, full bodied stout without being heavy. Definitely drinkable in the heat of summer.
Yellow Dog Bit Her: I had this beer at the Summer Beer Fest this past July. I’m afraid that I didn’t pay as much attention to it as I should have, merely because some friends of mine were trying to get away with calling me a particular nickname that only one person on this earth gets to call me; I didn’t see his ass back behind the bar and so I was gently correcting their usage of the phrase. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and no one went into the Huron River when he didn’t want to. Doubly fortunate was that I got to truly enjoy this beer whilst at the pub with Jeff. True to its name, it is bitter but has a nice malty balance to it (gack! I feel like I keep saying that over and over but what can I say? The man’s beer is well balanced!).
Mulligan Wheat: On the rare occasions that I play golf, I love the word Mulligan. I also like it when I’m living life in general as I can often use a “do over”. And–ta da!–this is a beer that I could do over again and again 🙂 Ah, the wit! Seriously, this is a good wheat with some notes of citrus and floral hops. It wasn’t too harsh, as I often find wheats to be.
That’s cool, isn’t it? I have a feeling that everyone will take a picture of that on their way into the bar, much like everyone has that picture of the rock arch up in Mackinac.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the food at the pub is terrific. They have unique appetizer selections, such as pecan smoked sausages and white fish pate but also traditional favorites like brie, cheese & sausage plates and pretzels with a variety of dipping sauces. They serve pasties (stop your dirty minds…you know what I mean), cheddar soup, salads, sandwiches and three kinds of coleslaw (Jeff was delighted with this as he is a huge fan). They also have homemade root beer & lemonade (the latter of which I can’t drink because of an issue with citric acid).
I can’t encourage folks enough to get on out there. One of the many things I don’t abide are Ann Arbor people being all OMFG I CAN’T LEAVE THE BUBBLE NOOOOOOO I CAN’T DRIVE OMG NOOOOOOOOO JACKSON IS TOO FARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. No, no it isn’t. And for God’s sake get the fuck out of this town once in awhile. If you think Ann Arbor is the do all end all, gack! No. Get out of town, literally. Meet the bartenders, drink the beer, eat the pasties and maybe even meet Phil the Brave yourself. You’ll never feel cool and brave in quite the same way.