Going back to the beginning: Arbor Brewing
I was so excited to revisit an old favorite of mine on my recent trip back to metro Detroit. Before moving to Chicago, I lived in Ypsilanti, MI....home of Arbor Brewing Company. This was the first brewery I ever visited and I always used to get the Strawberry Blonde. I was really curious to go back and see what I would think of this beer and their others, now that I have tried so many other craft beers.
Arbor started in 1995 in Ann Arbor as a small brewpub. One thing that most people don't know or forget (including myself) is that Arbor Brewing was the first sour program in Michigan starting in 2002 at their Ann Arbor brewpub. I felt like a complete idiot when I found this out because I didn't even know they had a sour program...let alone the first one in Michigan! Obviously, I had to give one a try! I had "Framboozled" a sour that starts with a base of their Strawberry Blonde. All of their sours start with a base beer which makes for a fun side by side comparison. I really loved how the souring process brought out a watermelon flavor as well as building on the strong strawberry base. The 6-9 months that it spends in the barrel is more than worth it for that complex flavor. Its not just sour, there's a complexity behind it that is hard to come by in some sours.
Now lets get into my completely arbitrary rankings of the beers I tried! (this is only a small sampling of what they make)
1. Framboozled- check out my description above :)
2. Bake Sale - Milk stout
I was a big fan of this beer! I've been really into how well the milk stouts bring out the more delicate flavors. Bake sale tastes exactly how the name implies, full of molasses, cacoa and vanilla, it tastes just like a cookie. I after the flight, I went back and got another Bake sale...it was that good.
3. Strawberry Blonde - Belgian Blonde w/ Strawberry
Revisiting this beer was so much fun. I feel like the flavors have evolved so much, either on my end or in the beer itself. I was getting some banana undertones with the strawberry which was fantastic! The only thing that brought this beer down a bit on my list was the ABV. At 7.7% this beer packs a punch, a punch that you wouldn't think is there since its a fruity beer. I would want to drink a couple of these but I couldn't at that percentage.
4. Euchre - Pilsner
First off, I really love the name of this beer. A play on the classic Michigander game Euchre. The flavor of the beer stands up to the name as well. Its a hoppy with the signature pale malt base which m
akes it incredibly true to style. The addition of the centrifuge in the brewing process really helped the clarity of this beer and gave it a boost in flavor.
5. Buzzsaw - IPA
A hoppy, west coast style IPA with a full bitterness on the back end. I really loved how crisp this beer was, super refreshing and great for a hot day. This is definitely not a session though, Buzzsaw comes in at 7.5%.
6. Amber and Gold - Amber Ale
The only reason this beer is last is because I'm just not the biggest fan of Amber beers. It is true to style in its roasty, almost smoky flavor followed by some toffee. If I liked Ambers, this would be perfect, but its just not my style.
Looking ahead into 2018, Arbor plans to build on a successful base of great beers by making a huge effort to refine their craft.
- Addition of centrifuge (separation of solids from beer, ensuring high clarity)
- Addition of dissolved oxygen meters in the bottle as well as brite tank
- Starting a lab staff, maintain the quality and performance of yeast
- New brewer, focus on freshness and consistent quality of beer
- 20 bbl fermenter for more experimental brews
If you ever find yourself in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Area, be sure to check out the brewery or brewpub or pick up a bottle. You wont be disappointed! Especially with all of the upgrades they will be making in 2018!