Craft Drinks Converge Downtown
Ugly Dog and Chelsea Alehouse will soon be neighbors.
by Shelley Daily
Published in June, 2018
Two drinking establishments are set to open on Main St. this summer. Ugly Dog Distillery, which launched eight years ago on North Territorial Rd., is turning the long-vacant UAW hall into a tasting room for its handcrafted vodka, gin, and rum. Chelsea Alehouse Brewery, which opened nearly six years ago in the Clocktower Complex, will reopen a couple blocks south in Just Imagine's old spot in the heart of downtown with an expanded menu and beer selection.
Alehouse owners Chris and Aubrey Martinson (see "Music Around Every Corner," p. 12) plan to open in June. They will offer about ten beers on tap to start, with plans for up to thirty. Their new brewpub license will allow them to sell other brands of craft beer, and Chris says he's excited because "the wealth of beer in Michigan is pretty deep."
He'll brew small batches of his own beer "old style" in the kitchen--including customer favorites the Jaunty Woodsman IPA and Hollier 8 Black Ale--until they phase in their basement brewery operation. An expanded kitchen will turn out burgers and pub sandwiches; along with beers, they'll offer wine and cider too.
After Just Imagine moved to W. Middle St., the Martinsons opened up the space all the way into the back and moved the bar from the original location. Though long and narrow, Chris says the new space with exposed brick walls and hardwood floors is larger than it looks and offers the same 100-person seating capacity as their original spot. He says many would-be customers never found that location because it was tucked behind the Clocktower Complex, and he thinks the move to a high-foot-traffic stretch of Main will boost business.
David Salmon, CEO and part owner of Ugly Dog, says they hope to open their new location in July. He says it will be a "multipurpose facility" with a tasting room, small retail shop, a second-floor private room that can hold up to fifty people, and an event
space (available for rent) that can accommodate up to 200. The tasting room will serve master distiller Dewey Winkle's spirits--including bacon- and raspberry-flavored vodka, gin, spiced rum, and, Salmon says, a "ten-year-old ultra-premium whiskey."
Ugly Dog was the brainchild of Winkle and his hunting buddy Jon Dyer, whose hunting dog, a German wirehaired pointer, is featured on the logo. Dyer has since moved on to other pursuits, and Ugly Dog now has multiple owners and is distributed throughout Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, and New York City.
While Ugly Dog won't be serving food, they are looking into providing order-in options from downtown restaurants, Salmon says. They also plan to seek out local and regional music talent.
Although they offer different products, Chris Martinson says Chelsea Alehouse and Ugly Dog both "care about the ingredients in our products, and we both offer nice spaces ... it's another way to bring people into town." Salmon agrees and says he sees the businesses as "complementary, and it gives people two craft-related places to try."
Chelsea Alehouse Brewery, opening in June at 115 S. Main, Chelsea. (734) 475-2337. chelseaalehouse.com
Ugly Dog Distillery, opening in July at 218 S. Main, Chelsea. (734) 433-0433. uglydogdistillery.com
[Originally published in June, 2018.]
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