In other cities across the United States, March 13th is just another day, but in Detroit it is a day for celebration!

Here are five beers with Detroit connections to celebrate with on Detroit’s special day!

All these beers are from Michigan breweries, and are, of course, better on draft!

Cheers from the Two Way Inn with a Purple Gang Pilsner

Purple Gang PilsnerAtwater Brewery – Detroit

According to the Detroit Historical Society, the Purple Gang reigned in Detroit during the 1920s and 1930. Being made up of mostly immigrants, the Purple Gang controlled the underworld of Detroit, including all illegal activity associated with alcohol, drugs, and gambling. Their control over Detroit was well known and feared. The famous Chicago mobster, Al Capone, recognized this power, so rather than battle it out with the Purple Gang he worked with and utilized the Purple Gang’s power for his exploits in Detroit and with Canada. Despite their lawlessness, the Purple Gang were rarely held responsible for their crimes as their victims and witnesses of the crimes they committed were scared to rat them out.

Atwater pays homage to the Purple Gang with their Purple Gang Pilsner. The German-style pilsner is light and very drinkable at 32 IBUs and 4.8%.

The Two Way Inn is Detroit’s oldest bar. It began serving alcohol in 1876, was converted into a speakeasy during prohibition, and continued serving alcohol after the 21st Amendment. The Two Way Inn was the rumored stomping grounds of the Purple Gang, so it’s a prime spot to drink one for the gang.

Best Place to Enjoy – Two Way Inn – 17897 Mt Elliott Street

313 Polish LagerGrand River Brewery – Jackson

When I first had this lager, I was blown away.

I assumed that this lager was from a brewery in Detroit and was half right. The brewery that came up with the recipe is Grand River Brewery based in Jackson, MI, BUT the 313 Polish Lager is brewed at Brew Detroit, a contract brewing operation. This is why the cans say “Brewed in Detroit”. The beer sits at 4.5% and 15 IBUs. It washes any meal down well and has the drinker craving more.

The side of the can include the following from brewer owner, John Hebda-Burtka:

“During the turn of the 20th century, thousands of Eastern Europeans flooded into the Detroit area. These immigrants were the backbone to the region’s booming manufacturing industry. … 313 Polish Lager is an homage to my hard-working ancestors that powered the 313 area code. Na Zdrowie!”

Best Place to Enjoy – Polish Village Cafe – 2990 Yemans St

Recently located Old Detroit Amber Ale at Michigan Beer Company in Novi.

According to a Facebook post from 2018, the 313 Polish Lager is available at the Polish Village Cafe in Hamtramck, which is the best location to enjoy this beer. Polish food and a Polish lager go hand in hand! Na Zdrowie!

Old Detroit Amber Ale – Frankemuth Brewery – Frankenmuth

If you’re a fan of amber ales, you are going to love this beer. If you are looking to honor Detroit and explore a new beer style, you are also going to love this beer. It has a textbook amber look, smell, and taste with a smooth malt presence with each and every sip. Frankenmuth Brewery refers to the Old Detroit Amber Ale as a “kick back and relax” kind of beer, which, in my opinion, is an excellent salute to a city that has worked it’s ass off no matter what got in its way.

Best Place to Enjoy – Anywhere within (metro) Detroit

Before or after a Tigers game, especially in the fall, this beer goes best with a coney dog, burger, or a tailgating spread. It can be a bit elusive, so keep your eyes peeled for it.

Old Nation’s sick packaging for Detroit Dwarf.

Detroit Dwarf Old Nation Brewing Company & Detroit Beer Company – Williamston & Detroit

Nain Rogue or “Red Dwarf” in French has been a legend of Detroit since Cadillac arrived in the early 1700s. Small in stature and red in color, the “Red Dwarf” is still known as a bad omen to some and a protector of the land to others. The “Red Dwarf” has been spotted prior to devastating events taking place in Detroit, such as:

  • The Battle of Bloody Run in 1763
  • The Great Fire of 1805
  • Riots of 1967

Both brewing companies have an altbier bearing the name “Detroit Dwarf” which continues the legend. The beer stays true to the red noted by the early settlers with an amber color and has a clean lager profile with a fair balance between the hops and malts. It comes in at 5.8% and has 40 IBUs.

Best Place to Enjoy – Detroit Beer Company AFTER a Halloween in Detroit bus tour – 1529 Broadway St

The Halloween in Detroit bus tours put on by Detroit History Tours are phenomenal and have been selling out over the past few years. If you are a fan of Detroit and the history of it, this tour and the other ones offered are for you. Bailey Sisoy Isgro, the owner of Detroit History Tours, does an excellent rendition of the Nain Rogue legend on the tour and it would be fitting to enjoy a pint of the Detroit Dwarf with the story fresh in your head.

Mr. Blue Sky

Mr. Blue Sky packaging from Griffin Claw featuring The Spirit of Detroit.

Griffin Claw Brewing Company – Birmingham

One of the symbols of Detroit is The Spirit of Detroit. This large, bronze monument features a seated human figure holding a family and a golden orb in its hands. It sits, literally, at the beginning of Woodward Avenue at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. It is known to don an oversized jersey when a Detroit or state of Michigan sports team wins a national championship. The can of Mr. Blue Sky sports The Spirit of Detroit, as well, and allows you to showcase your love of the Motor City wherever you happen to be.

Best Place to Enjoy – Little Caesar’s Arena for a sporting event or concert – 2645 Woodward Ave

Currently, according to Griffin Claw, Mr. Blue Sky is only available at Little Caesar’s Arena out of the sporting event venues in downtown Detroit. More may be on the way, but for the time being, you can enjoy Mr. Blue Sky about a mile and a half away from the real deal.

Get out there and grab up all these beers to make this freakin’ flight!


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By Ed Norton

Edwin "Ed" Norton was first introduced to craft beer when his designated fraternity Big Brother Vince asked him if he knew anything about the topic. Ed admitted his ignorance and the rest is history as Ed and Vince would split six-packs of craft beers each week during Ed's probationary status. Ed is now a craft beer enthusiast who is always on the lookout for a beer he has not tried when bottle shopping or drinking at breweries and bars. In addition to drinking beer, this livelong Michigan resident enjoys a bunch of hobbies that he doubts you really care about, other than drinking beer and sounding off about it.

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