In November of 2011, after my interest in craft beer had been sparked by a trip to Northern California, my wife and I visited a local bar/restaurant recommended to me as a place to find a good selection of craft beer. That place was Ashley’s Beer and Grill of Westland.
That night as I looked overwhelmed at their beer list, a phrase I remember for history class jumped out at me “La Fin du Monde”. This was the term used by French trappers to refer to the ‘End of the World’. Even though I couldn’t ever remember hearing about the style known as a tripel, I ordered one, and it certainly was the beginning of a love affair with craft beer.
Ashley’s became a regular spot, and in February of 2012, Janeen & I went to their Trappist Beer Dinner, which was the kickoff event for Ashley’s Belgian Beer Festival, held each year in February, where the restaurant serves only Belgian-made craft beer for the 11 days of the event. Although I’d been to Belgium a number of times previously, I knew precious little about how this little country produced more beer per capita than any other in the world. That night was eye opening for me. When I got home, I wrote a post about the event, and linked it through to Ashley’s Facebook page. (Here is a link to that initial post.)
The next day, one of Ashley’s owners, Roy More, called me and invited me to attend the rest of the festival as their guest and photographer. This has been a relationship I have maintained since.
I have been fortunate to make friends with so many great people through this relationship. The staff has always been friendly and accommodating to me, despite the fact that, in the course of my photographer duties, I always manage to get in their way.
I’ve also made so many amazing friendships through my role as staff photographer. Both of this blog’s initial contributors, Pat & Chris, I met at Ashley’s.
I have photographed many great events. My favorites being the yearly Brewery Throwdown, the previously mentioned Belgian Beer Week, and the Michigan Cask Ale Festival, a yearly event held every May.
As with all relationships, there have been ups and downs, but the ups have vastly outnumbered the downs.
The owners, Jeff and Roy More, have a passion for craft beer and have been championing it since they opened the Ashley’s in Ann Arbor all the way back in 1983.
I’m sure throughout the course of this blog, I’ll be able to cover Ashley’s events in detail. As the title of this post suggests, I wanted to focus on that ‘Cheers-like’ watering hole, where, as the theme song says “You want to go where everyone knows your name.” While I’m much less a regular at Ashley’s than the fictional characters of Norm & Cliff were at Cheers, I still consider Ashley’s my ‘home’ spot, and my life certainly has been enriched by the relationships I’ve cultivated there.