Jun 2, 2013

3rd annual Apps and Ales: A delightful evening
of trick or treat for adults in downtown Bay City

The bald guy's report:

If you're the kind of snob who likes to complain that everything is better in Midland (or Traverse City or Mt. Pleasant, pick a place, nobody but you cares anyway), then the third annual Apps and Ales on May 22 in downtown Bay City was the place for you.  Not that there was anything to complain about -- quite the opposite -- but there was a lot, period.  A lot of food, a lot of beer, a lot of people, a lot of fun and excitement.

Or if, like me, you've noticed there's about 2 or 6 million beers out there and wish you could try a few without buying the whole bottle or glass in case you don't like it, or if you like ale and/or dark beers and good food and are searching for just the right one or the right combination or if, again like me, you like beer and good eats and good value for your buck, then Apps and Ales was the place for you.  In short, there was something for everyone.

$20 for advance tix, $25 on the day -- a definite bargain either way because you pays yer money, you get a free souvenir glass and a pack of tickets.  Then you walk into a participating venue, give 'em their ticket and you get two samples of their fine cuisine and two samples of one of their ales or darks or two of the same.  It's like Trick or Treat for adults.  Anyone who didn't get their fill of food or beer wasn't trying.  (Note to self:  Next time, pace yourself better; you were full before you were two-thirds through the tour.)    

Apps and Ale (the apps means appetizers, in case you haven’t figured it out already, instead of iPhone widgets) is organized by Downtown Bay City,  a business association whose purpose is to show off the best side of its namesake. In this endeavor, they hit it out of the park.  Fifteen establishments participated, which was just about all the places downtown that serve both food and drink.  You can Google Apps and Ales to see them all.  And not all of them were stationary:  We sampled an excellent salmon appetizer on the sea-going (actually, bay-going) Princess Wenona, docked at Wenonah Park.  (Don't ask why they're spelled different -- they just are.)

Some impressions:  I'm not much of one for dark beers.  Too bitter.  But at World CafĂ©, the pleasant young server gave me a sample of their chocolate torte and said the dark and the torte go well together.  Psha!  Right, I thought.  Beer and a brownie; not likely.  Nonetheless, I tried it and -- surprise, surprise -- she was right.  It was excellent.  Synergistic.  The whole was greater than the sum of parts.  Maybe I've given darks short shrift.  That's where an event like this is beneficial.  Broadens one's scope.

The placards on the tables describing the proffered beverages were full of fancy language describing what went into the result.  It was like wine experts describing a fine cabernet, mentioning the hint of blackberry and the insouciance of oak, whether smooth or hot, the "nose," the finish, whether or not it puts a party in your mouth, etc.  Well, at G's Pizzeria (which had a boss meat lover's pizza as one of their apps -- so good I ordered one at home later in the week) the placard describing the dark -- which had the highest alcohol content of any beverage that night, 8% -- ended with the claim that it had "the finish of an assassin."  I love it.

Shuttle buses were running all night but, at least when I was there (we left probably a half-hour before it was officially over), few people were taking them, preferring to walk, which was probably good. Gave one a chance to get a little air and perhaps calm down a buzz.

The demographic:  Middle of the week, Wednesday night, next day you gotta get up early and work, you might expect it to be heavily young.  Not so.  In terms of age, I'd say the distribution of attendees was representative of the general population.  There were young people, sure, but there were even geezers older'n me.  One person of note, not older'n me but probably close to my age, was the most excellent piano player at the Atrium.  Played some pretty intricate pieces and needed no sheet music.  I didn't catch his name (wish I had) and he wore white silk gloves.  Why? I asked.  Makes it easier to slide his hands over the keys.  You learn something every day.

At one point, Harry and my wife and I were at a place -- Jake's, I think -- that offered as one sample Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy, a beer with a tinge of lemon I find most agreeable in warm weather.  I tried to talk Harry into trying it, citing my sainted mother, God rest her soul, who at 95 discovered Tiger baseball and beer, Summer Shandy.  One beer per game and I had to take the bottles back (she didn't want her neighbors thinking she was a lush).  Harry refused, and a philosophic discussion on the nature of foods ensued.  Some things are sacrosanct.  My wife won't eat fish tacos.  To her, fish has no place in tacos.  Tacos should have one meat, not fish, nor chicken, nor even shredded beef:  Ground beef.  That's it.  Harry likes fish tacos.  But Harry says there's no room in beer for fruit.  Beer should taste like beer. Fruity beer is an abomination.  My wife likes Summer Shandy.  What can I say?  Purists.  But that's OK.  Freedom of choice.  It’s what makes America great.

One final note:  Mixing crowds and alcohol is a crapshoot. You hope for the best but never know what's gonna roll.  But for the time I was there, I saw no drunkenness or rowdiness or unseemly behavior.  No grousing about having to wait in a line, no pushing or shoving, everyone just waiting their turn, more times than not striking up a pleasant conversation with the stranger next in line.  The whole affair was well-organized and well-run.  What I saw was a lot of people enjoying themselves.   

Maybe that's why Apps and Ales only runs 3 hours, so no one over-indulges.  Or maybe the people of Bay City and the people who come to Bay City and the people who promote Bay City are just real, normal, cool people who know how to have a good time.  A couple days later, Harry and I were discussing the event and how much we enjoyed it and his words in summation were: "It was simply a delightful time."  Indeed. That's the perfect word.  Delightful. 

And Downtown Bay City's next party like this is in September, only this time it will be a Wine Walk.  I can't wait.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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