When you approach HOMES Brewery for the first time, the first thing you notice is the two large outdoor patios that sit in front. The building looks approachable and casual, yet vibrant and inviting with pops of lime green, orange and blue sprinkled across the front.
HOMES Brewery was one of the first stops on a FAM, or familiarization, tour hosted by Geiger & Associates Public Relations and Destination Ann Arbor. The tour is meant to highlight communities’ emerging events, craft beers, and culinary scenes with stops at some of the most renowned restaurants, businesses, and breweries Ann Arbor has to offer.
The indoor space is fairly large, with vibrant orange seating along the bar and plenty of tables available in the main dining area. I say dining area because HOMES is not just a brewery, it also specializes in Asian street-style food, offering a complete menu with plenty of selections. Notably, and speaking to the quality of the brew and food, HOMES has no advertising budget, no promotional material, and operates solely off of word-of-mouth. They want their patrons to travel to the brewery as a destination, in order to experience something that feels more unique than what other breweries have to offer.
An Asian-Inspired Angle
This was the first time I have experienced a brewery offering Asian-inspired fare, but with HOMES specializing in sour and hop-forward beer specifically, the flavor combination did intrigue me. Sour, hoppy, beers paired with sweet-spice and full-flavored dishes were calling my name, so we sat down with the owner, Tommy Kennedy, and head brewer, Nick Panchame, for some insanely delicious tastings.
First up was the Guava Sherbet, which is a kettle sour ale made with aged guava. The second was a Milk (Cherry/Orange) IPA, and a milkshake IPA brewed with lactose and Amarillo. We sampled Drones IPA, an Imperial/Double Ale with notes of pineapple and citrus, then Same Same Different, the flagship IPA that is bright, citrusy and tropical, and then King Cold Brew, an Imperial Cream Ale brewed and aged with Ethiopian and Brazilian coffees.
Every beer, true to claim, was very hop-forward and ranged in sour level, except for King Cold Brew, which, unlike most beers brewed with coffee, managed to stay light and refreshing, with strong coffee notes.
Chicken, Kimchi and Desserts, Oh My!
I kid you not when I say the aromas of HOMES Asian street-style cuisine, alone, were mouthwatering. We had the pleasure of tasting a variety of dishes, complimentary of HOMES, including the chicken wings; both the Sichuan dry rub and Korean BBQ; a Kimchi Flight, which is a trio of seasonal house kimchi; a daily special of Kimchi Pancakes; and for dessert, we had two amazing options: a 5-Spice Bread Pudding made with macerated berries, topped with a spiced whisky whipped cream and Guava Sherbet simple syrup; and, last but absolutely not least, a Basil Vanilla Bean Ice Cream made with a burnt miso caramel and toasted sesame seeds.
If we can speak informally for a moment, this spread was drool-worthy. Not only were all of the beers delicious, but the vibrantly colored dishes with spicy and sweet aromas filling the air truly made this experience worthy of praise.
The Sichuan dry-rubbed wings were made with the perfect amount of spice, leaving no flavor profile untouched and paired gloriously with the Drones IPA. The kimchi flight consisted of three different house-made, seasonal, kimchi’s that were just the right combination of sweet, spicy, and sour. Any of these kimchi types would pair lovingly with the Guava Sherbet or Milk IPA, for a little sweet to offset the sour and spice.
The Jewel In The Crown
The real crowning jewels for me, however, were the desserts. The 5-Spiced bread pudding was so out-of-this-world delicious that I completely forgot to snap a picture, my apologies. The bread pudding itself was creamy, light, and fluffy with a touch of 5-spice to complement the caramel-like flavor of the bread. Top this dreamy creation with macerated berries, a whiskey spiced whip cream, and a house-made simple syrup, made with HOMES Guava Sherbet IPA… and you find heaven. I was so genuinely impressed with the balance of flavors, nothing too sweet, no one flavor to overpower the others, everything just worked. So, color me shocked, when the next dessert came out and it was just as equally delicious as the first.
Fresh, homemade, basil vanilla bean ice cream with a burnt miso caramel sauce and toasted sesame seeds. Let thank sink in – my mouth is watering at just the memory. The ultra-creamy homemade ice cream was a balance of sweet and savory, with strong notes of sweet basil, keeping it cool and refreshing.
The pale green ice cream was surrounded by a pool of burnt miso caramel that was exploding with flavors of deep caramel and nutty, salty, miso. A nice crunch from the toasted sesame seeds round out what is one of the best desserts I’ve ever had, that would pair wonderfully with a King Cold Brew.
If you ever get the chance to visit the Ann Arbor, MI area, HOMES Brewery is a must-go. This young brewery is an experience unlike most, there’s nothing on the menu you won’t enjoy and there’s a beer for every range of flavor you desire. Indulge a little, you won’t be disappointed.