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Woodward Avenue Brewers
22646 Woodward Avenue
Ferndale, Michigan
(248) 546-3696
Visited on April 26, 2012

The Woodward Avenue Brewpub is located on a busy divided street called, you guessed it, Woodward Avenue. The unassuming building on the corner holds a nice little secret – a relaxed, chill, slightly hippy brewpub. After being directed to the main entrance around the side of the building, I was puzzled not to see anyone at all in the restaurant. After all, it was happy hour on a Thursday afternoon. But once I entered the door, I heard music wafting from upstairs with a sign pointing up. Once I climbed the ancient-looking stairs, I was pleasantly surprised to find a modern, chic little space.

An open ceiling sporting original wooden frame accompanies exposed brick, large windows and an obviously original hardwood floor. The building is old, and they kept everything they possibly could. The sound system is amazing, and puts customers at ease as they sit at the extremely large and in charge bar, or sit at one of the tables further back. It doesn’t look like the place would accommodate large groups very well, but for an intimate drink or two, it’s perfect.

Unfortunately they don’t offer sampler platters, so I guess I just had to go through them all by pints. After sampling the amber lager and the common porter, I chose for the latter. Closer to a stout, the robust richness of coffee notes gave it a very full flavor and complexion. While an excellent example, it lacked a certain amount of depth and complexity. A nice session beer, but nothing to seek out. The IPA is lightly hopped for its variety, but still comes in at just under 7%. Another good session beer, but nothing special. The best of my stay may have been the vanilla porter. With the base of their already-proven common porter, the addition of obviously real vanilla beans takes the beer to another level.

The menu seems to be a bit of an afterthought. There aren’t any entrees, and it is dominated my sandwiches, wraps, flat bread pizzas and Mexican fare. In short, everything that you only need a small room and one heating element to prepare. That being said, they do offer an impressive array of vegetarian and creative combinations. Boca burgers are there along with regular burgers, and they highlight the fact that a Reuben can come with veggies or turkey if you’d prefer.

I opted for an open-faced sandwich that sounded much better than its execution. Turkey with cheese, lettuce, avocado and cashews on top of a homemade honey porter bread, paired with a honey mustard horseradish sauce. The honey mustard horseradish delivered. It’s one of the better mustards I’ve ever had the privileged to chow down on. But the sandwich disappointed a little. It seemed a little meek – a little too much like something a college kid would throw together in his toaster oven. Maybe it was the presentation. Maybe it was the sliced deli meat instead of chunks of actual roasted turkey. Whatever it was, it left me less than impressed and satisfied.

The service, however, was exceptional. Phil took time to introduce himself, ask my name and even remember it two hours later. He was kind, chatty at all the right times, and genuinely seemed to enjoy taking care of his customers. Well done, Phil.

Location: 19
Food: 15
Beer: 15
Service: 20
Overall: 17
Total: 86

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