I once wrote a light-hearted article here on Sommbeer focused on ingredients in beer that, no matter how popular, no matter how many friends love them, just aren’t for you. For me, blueberries existed as the one thing in beer I simply could not stomach. I wrote:
I do not like blueberry beer. Actually, I hate it. The worst part of blueberry brews, I argue, has to do with flavoring that reminds me of blueberry syrup, not blueberries. Tasting a blueberry beer reminds me of kids who pour so much blueberry syrup on their waffle that the waffle floats on its own syrup sea. Even Captain Crunch can’t navigate that sugary storm. As soon as the bottle cap is removed, the waft of blueberry smacks me in the face and lets me know that I’m about to experience a beer like no other. I prefer the other.
But then I tried Saugatuck Brewing Company’s Blueberry Stout (6% ABV / 26 IBU). Angels played their horns, light beamed from the sky. I had been saved from my life as a blueberry-beer hater and reborn as blueberry beer lover. My conversion is complete.
Keep in mind, Saugatuck Brewing resides in the heart of blueberry country. Indeed, nearby South Haven hosts the National Blueberry Festival every August. As any chef will tell you, nothing beats fresh, local ingredients — Maine lobster, Texas beef, Midwestern corn, and Mexican peppers come to mind. Michigan has blueberries, and Saugatuck Brewery possess the skill necessary to transform those fresh ingredients into delicious beer.
Any brewery that can change me from blueberry-beer-hater to blueberry-beer-lover begs to have its entire portfolio tasted, and so I did. As expected, Saugatuck did not disappoint. One beer after another provided delight. And, you might notice the artwork is pretty fun, too!
Three beers from Saugatuck Brewing provide a glimpse into how they brew:
- Starburst Wheat (5.1% ABV/ 25 IBU): A gorgeous, sexy mix of hops, wheat, and munich malts offer a citrusy tang and slight bitterness to otherwise straightforward, but tasty wheat beer.
- Daze on Saison (5.5% ABV / 24 IBU): Pils, Munich malt, wheat, and a kiss of Goldings, Tettnang, Mandarina, Mosaic hops give it a complex flavor – much more going on than your typical Saison. Yet, it’s simply refreshing. My only regret was drinking this on land instead of a boat on Lake Michigan. A wonderful seasonal beer!
- Mandarina IPA (8% ABV/ 74 IBU): They describe it as “a medium bodied IPA brewed with hops to give it a sweet fruit or Mandarin aroma and flavor. We then dry-hopped in the firkin to give it another layer of complexity to this ale.” If you like bitter, you’ll love this. The mandarin notes are subtle, but they are there. The malt really shines in this brew so it’s a great beer for malty and bready-beer fans, too.
The one resonating quality jumping out at me when drinking Saugatuck Brewing beer is that the malt is never the supporting actor. Regardless of how complex the beer, the malt remains prominent. And, to me, that is worthy of applause. Well done, Saugatuck Brewing.
Not only do they make good beer, they invite you to come to the brewery and make your own beer.
Saugatuck Brewing invites you to brew your own beer with its Brew on Premise program. Saugatuck Brewing explains, “We provide the recipes, natural ingredients, professional brewing equipment and the expertise to guide you through the process. It takes approximately 4 hours to brew your batch. Return in 2-3 weeks to bottle and sample your beer.”
The brewing on premise idea is quite cool! Nonetheless, for me — I’ll let the experts handle it. Because of Saugatuck Brewing, I’m now a blueberry-beer-convert. That alone is enough to keep me coming back to Saugatuck, but every beer they make proves enjoyable to me. In short, If they are fermenting it, I want to try it.