For the longest time, I eschewed fruit beers. I’m not really sure why except that it might have started the first time I ever drank a Corona, which of course had the eponymous lime wedged into its neck. I remember thinking, “Huh! This is kinda good!” and then I realized that what was “good” was the freaking lime. (Speaking of Limes, is there a cooler dude than Harry Lime in The Third Man? I mean, that fat dude who sold no more wine before its time was spot on in that role…spot on).
So I forbid oranges (or any citrus) near my beer and somehow along the way also avoided fruit beers. Then along came Boyfriend Ken, who has an affinity for ciders and anything tart. (Insert your own joke about me here). I started drinking craft ciders and realized that they were pretty good. At some point, I started taking sips of Boyfriend Ken’s raspberry or cherry or blueberry beers and realized that most of those beers were pretty good, too.
At some point, I decided that I should broaden my fruit beer palate. Fortunately, Arbor Brewing Company was there to help me out. On the second Thursday of every month, Arbor hosts a beer tasting. This month, the second Thursday in June was not only the last day of school for me, but also the annual Fruit Beer Tasting. Palates ready, Boyfriend Ken and I headed up the street to the wonderful brewing company near our house.
Happy ciders being happy:
As I try to do, I picked my top five standouts…this was a little difficult, as there was a lot of good stuff, but here you go:
Angry Orchard Crisp Apple: This was by far my favorite cider. It opened with a hit of sweetness before fading into a hit of tartness and finishing dry.
Dark Horse Raspberry Ale: This is the standard by which I measure other fruit beers. This is one of the best balanced beers I have ever had, regardless of style. It is neither too sweet nor too cloying yet still very fruity. I don’t know how they do it, but they do it well every single time.
Arbor’s Framboozled: This sour beer begins its life as Strawberry Blonde. It is then conditioned for none months in a Gueze-inoculated oak cask. The beer is then refermented with raspberries and bottle conditioned for a few more months. The results is pure sour awesomeness. I can never really taste the Strawberry Blonde, but I always get the raspberry and the perfect amount of sour.
Shipyard Applehead Ale: This beer reminded me of a pumpkin beer, but made with apples. That is, the spices were similar to the ones used in our favorite fall ales. Having the apple base lent a more tart flavor to the beer. (I should note that Copper Canyon’s Apple Struedel Trippel is the gold standard for me and apple beers. Given that high bar, I still enjoyed this offering from Shipyard).
SeaDog Blueberry Wheat Ale: This was the true find for me. I don’t believe I’ve had any of their beers before and what a wonderful introduction this was! The nose was awesome and smelled like my Blueberry Muffin doll did back in the day. The beer tasted like I imagined our girl would have tasted, if she were a beer. There was a nice hit of hops in the finish (something Blueberry Muffin most definitely did not possess). Overall, the beer was crisp and delicious.
Honorable Mentions (I told you there was a lot of good stuff!)
Northville Hard Cider was a favorite of Boyfriend Ken…he described it as being a “subtle apple wine” and he was right. Good stuff.
Uncle John’s Cider: I might be a little biased about this, because Ken and I went to the cider mill a few weeks ago and had a little sampling adventure. I think though that it is really good stuff made from Michigan apples. When we visited, we asked what they would do this year and the lady told us that they would likely buy other Michigan apples from areas of the state that were not as hard hit when we got the freeze.
ABC’s Strawberry Blonde: My old summertime favorite is back and poured for me by Ex-Husband Jeff no less! The beer is often described as the fruit beer that doesn’t forget it’s a beer and that is definitely true this year. The spices and citrus notes came through, while still retaining a hint of strawberry. Come to think of it, the nose kind of reminded me of my Strawberry Shortcake doll, before it lost its smell in the 1983 Dollpacalypse.
While this particular tasting will not come around again for another year, you can go back to Arbor any second Thursday and enjoy a variety of beers. July is wheats, wits and lambics and if someone could brew a lambic that smells like the Peculiar Purple Pie Man of Porcupine Peak, we’ll be all set.