Words by Joe Hakim & VATO/Photos by VATO
John Linardos has been brewing beer long before it was cool, inventing the Motor City Brewing Works in 1994. In 2001, he opened his Tap Room and offered to all Metro-Detroiters the chance to sit down and partake in what would become one of the best trends of the decade, craft brewing. Partnering up with Dan Scarsella in 2006, Motor City Brewing Works expanded to include a kitchen, and with support from the community has grown into a local hot spot.
The Mood: Best described as always casual. With attention to detail and the art, metalwork adorns the bar and the office areas, designed and fabricated by Jason Huffines, and Billy West (Dormouse Designs), while the beer tap handles were created by local artist Graem Whyte.
Depending on the season and weather, the upstairs deck (which seats around 20) is available, and the southern walls in the Tap Room (which seats around 60) may be completely opened. Adding to the mood is the feeling emanating from the management and the staff about being environmentally conscious. Always aware of their footprint, Motor City deals very closely with the agriculture community, working with the area’s community garden, using spent grain for composting, and collaborating with the Greening of Detroit and Brother Nature.
The Food: If you consider beer one of the four food groups, then pizza must be near the top of your list!
Motor City offers several specialty brick oven pizzas, including several vegetarian choices like the Margherita ($8) with herb tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil, the Mediterranean ($9) with olive oil, feta, kalamata olives, spinach, tomatoes, oregano and lemon, the Roasted Pear and Fig ($9) with olive oil, gorgonzola, oven roasted pears and figs, and red onions, the Danimal ($9) with olive oil, gorgonzola, tomatoes, caramelized red onions, artichoke hearts, and fresh basil, and the Godfather ($9) featuring pesto sauce, goat cheese, roasted red peppers and roasted garlic.
All of the pizzas are individual sized at 10”, so it’s recommended to get a few for the table to share. Don’t see items paired up as you like them, feel free to build your own pizza (starting at $8).
Motor City offers seasonal and daily specials as well, including a variety of salads (starting at $4) such as one with mixed greens, cucumbers, artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper, roasted tomato vinaigrette, onions and quattro formaggi, a Cheese Board ($8) with selections like Michigan brie and aged cheddar served with baguettes and honey mustard, and their Hot Crab Dip ($8) made with a cream cheese and parmesan blend, onions, roasted red peppers, water chestnuts, crab meat, cilantro, and spices.
The Drinks: Not only known throughout the Michigan Brewers festivals, but distributed nationwide, Motor City Brewing Works prides itself on its beer crafting, available at a variety of pricing starting at $4 pint, $12 new growler, $8 refill growler, $8 six pack, $30 case, and also for sale in barrels.
Available year-round are the Bohemian Lager, Pale Ale, Ghettoblaster, Nut Brown Ale, and the Honey Porter. Seasonally (at the Tap Room, or through distribution) Motor City offers a summer beer, an Oktoberfest, and a stout. A Hard Cider ($5 pint) is also available in the Tap Room, made with a blend of Michigan apples.
While each of the beers will pair very well with pizza, there’s a couple pairings that will accentuate each other better than others. Try Ghettoblaster with the Bronx Bomber, the mild roasted notes of the beer are quite nice with the smoky meats on the Bomber. In the summer, try the Summer beer with the Sopla Fuego. The citrus notes of the summer beer pair really well with the fruity fieriness of the Fuego, one of Detroit’s spiciest pizzas.
The Service: It’s clear that the staff at Motor City know their beer. Moreover, they don’t adopt an elitist or pretentious approach about it. If you have a question about how something tastes, ask your bartender or server, and they will be more than happy to answer your questions.
Insider’s Tip: There are only a few free spaces to park off of the Canfield entrance (parking in that lot is otherwise $5). Look for the signs and come in through the rear “Green Alley” entrance, with free parking off of Prentis Street.
The Verdict: Great beer, excellent pizza, fascinating approach to conscious living.
Check out more of Joe & VATO’s adventures at TheHungryDudes.com.