Might as well start off the pub reviews with a few words about what may just be my favorite pub in the US of A. As my friends will attest, I’ve done my best to find a local around my hometown of Durham, NC. You know what I mean – the kind of place where the folks behind the bar know your name, they know what kind of beer you like – hell, maybe they know that you’re a giant beer nerd that just maybe has personally reviewed 600 or so beers. You know what I mean? Well, so far that hasn’t worked out for me back home. However, I’ve found the nearest approximation way up in the icy north of Detroit, Michigan.
I first visited Foran several months ago when I was in town on business. At the time, I was very impressed by the fact that they ONLY put Michigan craft brews on draft. To me, that seemed hard to pull off, as I wasn’t aware of much besides Bell’s and Jolly Pumpkin. However, after seeing their 15 or so taps, all full of something I’d love to put in my mouth, I was a believer. And they proceeded to educate me on the great offerings from Dark Horse, Short’s, Arcadia, and others. During that initial trip, I was taken by how knowledgeable the bar staff were on their beers and the breweries themselves. In addition, I was very impressed by the food (the fish & chips and Reuben are some of the best I’ve ever tasted). This all was enough for me, and I was glad to have been blessed by a visit to another great pub.
Flash forward 2 months or so, and I’m back in Detroit. On a drizzly night, I stumble back over to Foran, pull up a bar stool, and the same young lass greets me. Okay, so, she doesn’t remember my name, but she does remember that I’m from North Carolina and that I especially enjoyed the Sapient Trip tripel from Dark Horse that I had tried during my first trip. Now that’s the kind of attention to detail that I like to find in a pub. Based on my affinity for the Sapient Trip, she made a couple of other great recommendations. I wish I could remember the names of those recommendations. I can’t. But they were good. Trust me.
During the next week in town, I found myself in Foran on a couple more occasions. During one, I chatted with a patron who was a photographer for the local indie newspaper (and also happened to be a bartender there – doesn’t it say a lot about a place when the employees are also patrons?) about indie hip-hop – she had to leave shortly thereafter to meet her buddy Blockhead for sushi (hip hop fans – you’ll know who I’m talking about). Before leaving, she stepped outside to educate me on the bus system so that I could adequately navigate myself to a concert venue later. On the 3rd trip to Foran, I had a new bartender who had a black eye that he apparently found whilst in the mosh pit at a Gwar concert. He proceeded to hook his game console up to the TV behind the bar so that patrons could play old school Nintendo games free of charge.
And, I forgot to mention that the atmosphere is excellent. The bar is old, dimly lit, and narrow, with tall ceilings and a split story architecture. It was once the ticketing terminal for the local railway, which means it’s steeped with history and one of the oldest buildings in all of downtown.
So, all in all, Foran seems to have everything I look for in a quality bar. Great atmosphere, a phenomenal local beer selection that rotates frequently, great food that focuses on local ingredients, knowledgeable bar staff, and quality patrons. If I could scoop this bar up and plop it down a block from my house, I’d do it in a second. If you go to Detroit and don’t visit Foran (it’s right downtown on Woodward), then maybe you shouldn’t be reading this blog…