WESTLAND — For craft beer lovers, having beer on cask is the ultimate way to experience their favorite brews. Without the added filtering process, drinkers can truly enjoy the ingredients that go into each brew.
Saturday was a cask beer enthusiast’s dream, with 24 cask beers featured at the Cask Ale Festival. An estimated 450 enthusiasts rotated through the doors of Ashley’s during the event, fetching some unique new brews, along with some old favorites.
Arbor Brewing Company brought three beers to the event — Framboozled, Mackinaw Fudge Stout and Buzzsaw — the most of any brewery at the event. I sampled Framboozled as well as Mackinaw Fudge Stout, and was impressed with both.
Framboozled poured a red color with a small head. The sour ale tasted like a combination of a Belgian ale mixed with a lambic, and was very tasty. You could definitely taste a balsamic flavor with this as well, offset by the fruit and some nuttiness. On the other hand, Mackinaw Fudge Stout (served in a wood cask) poured black with a small head, smelling like rich dark chocolate. The taste had some bitterness, in addition to the massive amount of chocolate coming through. Its thin mouthfeel was unexpected, but the brew’s rich flavors certainly made up for it.
Wolverine State Brewing Company brought a new brew to the event, its Pineapple and Coconut Maibock. The amber beer smelled a bit sour, but was otherwise filled with pineapple. The flavors were somewhat muted, but still present, with the coconut coming on the backend. It was a good experimental beer for sure, and one that left me wanting more.
Liberty Street Brewing Company’s Clementine Lemon Thyme was a winner in my book — a ton of lemon present, along with some orange flavor as well. It was unique, a bit sour and had some spice to it (which offset the lemon slightly). It was refreshing and different take on the usual summer wheat ales I’ve come to known.
But by far the brew I was most impressed with was Midland Brewing Company’s Pine River Smoked Porter. The brew was smoky, but not too over the top, also featuring some coffee sweetness. It reminded me a of a campfire or that summer backyard barbecue, with a medium body but a unique outdoorsy taste to it.
Being the company’s first ever firkin, I was surprised with how good this was. It was one that left others talking, as well, and was one of the beers that featured a line out the patio door.
In addition to the five brews above, Shorts brought a brand new brew, Franken Pils. I couldn’t taste the pilsner attributes — everything screamed IPA to me (it’s described as an India Creme Ale). It was a bit too hoppy for my liking, but it featured earthy, root-like flavors that combined well with the IPA attributes.