Not Just Your Average Fruit Beer

Friday, July 17, 2009

As some of the ATK regulars know, contributor Sopor was recently hired as a brewer at the Mt. Pleasant Brewing Company in Mt Pleasant, Michigan. We are, of course, thrilled that one of our own is officially in the big leagues.

Sopor graciously supplies me with some of their beers so that we can review them. I promised him to be objective; if a beer needs work, it needs work, and it yields a better product. If a beer is truly great, then they can run with it (not that my reviews mean much...). Sopor is also going to post some pieces and pictures about days in the life of a real brewer. That will be some great insight and I look forward to his posts.

At any rate, one of the beers he dropped off the other day is Mt. Pleasant Brewing Company's Coal Stokers Blackberry Ale, with real blackberry juice added to the brew. Let's begin!

Sopor's beer poured a hazy amber into my pint glass. It added a purple hue to that lovely amber and yielded a bit of a purplish-white head that settled quickly.

Coal Stokers had a nice berry aroma over the top of everything; not too much, and not so scant that it was supressed. What was nice about the aroma with this beer s that th sweet berry wasn't all-powerful, like those horrid imitation blueberry beers. This was balanced by a solid malt backbone. The malty roastiness and sweetness really shined along with the berry.

Pleasantly, this beer was balanced between berry and malt as I drank it. There is a touch of sweetness to this beer; the fruit character is evident, but like the aroma, it's not overwhelming. The beer is also slightly tart. I got malt and roast first, followed by a run of fruit flavor: blackberry jam and juice and even raspberry notes. I didn't get a hop presence at all, and I honestly would have liked some for just a little variation on the taste. Maybe a West Coast hop for some citrus or a German hop for some earthy/spicy flavors to add some complexity. This was a medium-bodied beer, a little watery-thin, with moderate amounts of carbonation. The carbonation was enough to let you know it's beer without being too scrubby-bubbles about it or without being, as some fruit beers are, tragically flat.

All in all, this is a really nice fruit beer. It is unmistakably the kind of fruit it says it is, but it's not cloying and actually tastes very natural. I did not get a sense that this is artificial or extract-like. There are so many fruit beers that are over-the-top in their fruit flavors (see my review about Founder's Cerise), but this one struck a decent balance. I gave a bottle to one of my neighbors, who shared it with his wife who normally dislikes beer. They really liked this beer and are interested in getting more. It pleased both the beer crowd and the non-beer crowd.

Great effort from the Mt. Pleasant Brewing folks! I liked it as much as Sammy A's Cherry Wheat (though with all honesty, one of the best fruit beers ever brewed is DFH's Aprihop).


Bob 8:32 AM  

You may actually get me to try one of these fruit beers with this one. I am guessing this isn't at Mecca?

Smitty 8:33 AM  

I don't know yet...I have a few bottles left and I can save a few for you.

George 11:05 AM  

I need to know if it would please a wise Latina.

Bob 11:34 AM  

"I need to know if it would please a wise Latina."

She would know better than the average white male who usually drinks Bud.

Smitty 12:07 PM  

Not nearly enough spice for a wise Latina.

Sopor 12:54 PM  

Unfortunately... Oades does NOT yet carry our beer. I asked them the other day and even told them who the distributor was (M&M) and they basically said "If you want to order some... we can get you some"

So I think what we need to do is get as many people as we can requesting it ;-) Maybe then they'll start stocking it. Also, there are other beers available all the time:

Iron Horse IPA
Second Wind Wheat (Hefeweizen)
Railyard Raspberry Wheat (VERY fruity...)
Steam Engine Stout
Cow Catcher Red
Gambler's Golden
Hobo's Breath Brown

We should have an Oktoberfest this fall, and we did a Bock last spring.

There may be a shortage for the next month or so though, we're moving the brewery to a new building so we won't be brewing for the next two weeks... what we have in stock is what we have.

But, about the beginning of September, we'll be back at full steam!

If any of you make it out to the Michigan Brewing Guild's Summer Beer Fest, come say hi!

Sopor 10:15 AM  

Oh, and just in case anybody is curious... This brew, Coal Stoker's Blackberry Ale, is actually a blend of our Steam Engine Stout and an American Wheat* ale, which then has Blackberry juice added.

If anybody else would like to try some of this, I can try to get some more to Smitty around the 1st of August... but with the move coming up I can't guarantee our distributors won't buy all that we have left.

*(we don't actually sell the American Wheat separately, it's the base for out Raspberry Wheat and is used in this... though it does make an appearance on it's own at the pub from time to time).

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