All jokes aside, ignoring the two inch ice sheets that still cover most of our lawns, the weather is actually starting to get warmer. Of course by warm I mean anything that’s above -30°, but we’ve even hit the 50s a couple times over the past week! So with potentially livable weather coming our way (god I hope I’m not jinxing anything. Any more polar vortexes and I’m transferring to the College of the Bahamas), my thoughts go instantly to the joy of drinking beer on the porch and basking in sunshine.
With the exception of Charley’s outside seating and Dominick’s backyard, there are few places in Ann Arbor where you can go out and actually enjoy the outdoors while getting tastefully crunk (or un-tastefully depending on how that final went). Or, at least that’s what I thought at least until I went to Bill’s Beer Garden.
Seriously, this place is too cool for school/all of the homework I should be doing right now. The deal behind Bill’s Beer Garden is that it’s not a full time bar at all. Open on select days during the week from March through October, it actually shares a location with Downtown Home & Garden down on Ashley. Once the garden shop closes each day around 5 pm and the cars clear out of the parking lot, Bill’s Beer Garden opens up, taps some kegs and generally adds to the collective good of the world.
I went for Oberon Day which was Monday, March 24th this year. To celebrate, Bill’s Beer Garden was the first stop of an Ann Arbor wide pub crawl to celebrate the release of the seasonal wheat ale. After Bill’s, the parade of people sporting Oberon’s trademark blue and orange trekked on to Sava’s and later Buffalo Wild Wings to celebrate the oncoming Spring and a truly tasty beer. I debated joining if it wasn’t for the whole it’s-a-Monday-and-getting-drunk-isn’t-appropriate-apparently thing, but I did thoroughly participate in the festivities at the first stop.
The bar itself consists of general outside seating, some of it covered, and an enclosed serving area. In terms of drink choice, Bill sports local craft beers and wines, from favorites such as Arbor Brewing Company, Bell’s, Founders and more. For about $5 or $6 dollars a glass, you really can’t go wrong. However, if you’re looking for shots, this may not be the place for you.
The area itself is fun, casual and a good spot to bring groups to sit or stand by the fire pits and sip really tasty beer. Be forewarned though, despite the fact that we can still see some sprouts coming up by the Union, it’s still pretty cold out. Cold weather + cold beer = later, hands. If you go now, be sure to bring coats and mittens so you don’t end up being frosty yourself (#puns).
So while Bill’s Beer Garden is still chilly right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t go. And, while Bill’s doesn’t serve food itself, Mark’s Carts are right next door, allowing you a tasty selection of street food to appreciate with your Ales, Stouts, Wheats and Dreams. Open from March to October, be sure to check it out before graduation, over the summer or at least sometime soon enough so I can go with you. I’ll be there for Festifools April 6th, so you best be suiting up and ready to get weird.
Location: 218 S Ashley St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Hours of Operation: Thurs-Sat 5 pm – 10 pm, Sun-Wed Closed
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