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Thursday, August 6, 2009

On the Road

When traveling, it's always fun to find a brewery or brew pud that produces a beer you can't get anyplace else. We were in the Detroit area recently and happened upon the Arbor Brewing Company and Eatery. It's one of those casual restaurants where the tables are situated around an enormous bar which is the centerpiece of the place. The atmosphere is sort of New-Age Bohemian with tattoos and piercings apparently the de facto uniforms for the wait staff and dishes featuring such things as free-range chicken.
Our waitress, Ericka, was a delight and very knowledgeable when it came to the house beers. The beer menu is extensive and as far as I could tell included only beers produced on the premises. The meals were all quite tasty, but the real draw is the beer. Because they offer free samples of any of their beers, I was able to try a number of different ones. I'll run down the list of those which I had the opportunity to try and my impression of each.

1. Big Ben House Mild - 4.25% - 25 IBU (International Bittering Units). The name says it all - mild. Light colored with some hints of hops. Easy drinking but not particularly memorable.

2. Bavarian Bliss Heferweizen - 5.6% - 14 IBU - Typical of most Heferweizens, this was light and fruity and for the most part unoffensive. It had a strong banana fragrance which was a little off-puting. Citriusy and no real hops presence.

3. Red Snapper Special Amber - 5.5% - 37 IBU - This was a very balanced beer with a nice combination of hoppy bitterness mellowed out with a malty sweetness. Dark in color - looking more like a stout or bock than an amber - it had some nice chocolate notes as well.

4. Sacred Cow Cask Conditioned IPA - 6.9% - 71 IBU - This was my particular favorite. Slightly cloudy with a very strong hops presence. As with any good IPA, the hops are dominant giving it that characteristic bitterness that all devoted hop heads look for. This was a very good beer.

5. Batch 1000 Smoked Lager - 5.5% - Very different as the name implies. There is a very definite smoky fragrence to it - reminiscent of good smoked meat. There's a very pleasant nutty/malty taste to it. I only had a small sample, but found it very interesting.

6. Faricy Fest Irish Stout - 4.5% - This is their answer to Guiness and it is a very impressive imitation. There is a slight burnt malt taste with a creamy head.

7. Brasserie Blonde - 5.5% - 7 IBU - This one surprised me because I didn't expect much. I'm not a big fan of Blondes (beers that is, let's be clear on that) because they tend to be rather tasteless. However I found this to be much more flavorful than I expected. While it would never be my first choice (or second or third) there was a little hint of hops there that made it a very drinkable beer.

8. Olde #22 German Alt - I mentioned to our waitress that I wanted to try a few samples because I write a beer blog and after bringing a few over that I had pointed out in the menu, she came over with this one. She said it wasn't on the menu today but they wanted me to give it a try. It was a real nice smooth dark beer. A pleasing chocolate undertaste with just a hint of hops. A very enjoyable beer.

As with many brew pubs, their beer menu is ever changing. My brother-in-law, who had been there before, said that the selection this time was far superior to the last. It is definitely a place I would return to again if I happen to be in the area. If you're ever out that way, here's the address:

Arbor Brewery Co. and Eatery
114 E Washington St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104