Fruit Beer Tasting at Arbor Brewing

Matt Greff and Joanna HollydayFruity beers are generally not my thing, but there were several decent brews at last night's tasting at Arbor Brewing. As usual, I volunteered to pour and ended up stationed at what turned out to be the strawberry table, featuring ABC's new-for-summer Strawberry Blonde and Melbourne Bros. (AKA Samuel Smith's) Strawberry Ale.

Owner Matt Greff (pictured right, with volunteer coordinator Joanna Hollyday and an apparent will-o-the-wisp on his shoulder) worked for three years on the recipe for the Strawberry Blonde. The result is a well balanced, medium-bodied brew with a strong strawberry nose but no sweet, cloying taste that is often a hallmark of fruit beers. The addition of so much malt to offset the fruitiness of the strawberry also means this is a deceptively boozy concoction at 7.75% ABV. Great choice for frat boys looking for a chick beer that will also get their dates hammered. The Strawberry Blonde is on draft at the Corner Brewery in Ypsi, but not yet available at ABC.

People drinking beerThe Melbourne Strawberry Ale was a much different animal, with more of a "real" strawberry taste (Greff used "essence of strawberry" for the flavor of his brew) and a really tart character. It was all right in small doses, but too much of something like this means a tummyache for your correspondent. Maybe the most notable thing about this beer is that it's spontaneously fermented, meaning during the brewing process it's left out in the open to be fermented by wild yeastie beasties in the air.

(Melbourne also had an apricot beer at another table, also spontaneously fermented, which had much more of a gueuze-like character to it.)

Others that caught my attention: Dark Horse Tres Blueberry (described in the program as "a fruit beer for manly men, not little girls"); Grozet Gooseberry Wheat Ale and Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale (from Craigmill, the Scottish brewer famous for Heather Ale, mmmm); and Cerise from Founders, a cherry beer with an interesting, oh-so-slight cinnamon finish.

Next month: wheats, wits, and lambics!