Brewery Ferment 45th Parallale: Brewery Ferment is a fairly young operation based out of Traverse City. One of their flagship brews, the 45th Parallale is light, crisp and slightly hoppy, This American Pale Ale has a nice, earthy hop up front, with a slightly sweet citrusy aftertaste. A nice, drinkable beer that could be enjoyed again and again.
Kuhnhenn Kürbis Sour Imperial Pumpkin Ale: Available only during the Michigan Brewers Guild Beer Enthusiast hour (take note, those on the fence about becoming Enthusiast members), this brew created with the second runnings of All Hallows Ale stood out as the most interesting beer of the festival. Advertised as 12.25% ABV, it was light bodied enough to sip like it was less than half that. The spices – including nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon – dominated the nose, but upon tasting faded into a well balanced blend of sour tartness and honey sweetness. The overall effect reminded of mulled wine.
Short’s Bourbon Hammer Jack: An outstanding and quite boozy barrel aged offering by Short’s. This is a strong winter scotch ale with sweet notes and malty body. Very thick palate and very bourbony upfront with the aroma. This high ABV brew clocks in at around 9%. Although it’s typically a pub exclusive, there is no doubt this one will warm your bones during the fall and winter.
Arbor Harvest Ale: This barrel aged, dry-hopped IPA delivered the full piney fragrance of fresh, locally grown Chinook hops along with a palate-pleasing balance of spicy bitterness and mildly toasted malt flavors. An impressive exemplar of what’s possible through the rapidly developing Michigan-grown hop scene.
The Livery FramBam Wild Ale: Barrel aged with raspberries, this tart delight stood out even from The Livery’s other solid offerings, which included several barrel aged brews. FramBam melded the raspberry fruitiness with oaky and bitter notes for a surprisingly dry and satisfying finish.
Odd Side Ales Bean Flicker Blonde: The draft version of this modified blonde was just as tasty as the bottle version. Coffee aroma dominates the nose and the consistency is smooth with a surprising clean body. This brew blends the best of both worlds with its light mouthfeel and stout qualities. For those who don’t like heavy stouts but appreciate the look and aroma, this one’s for you.
Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Plead the 5th Imperial Stout: OK, nothing new here obviously. But is there anything wrong with sticking to an old stand-by? BBPt5 is one of if not the best bourbon-barrel stouts around. Smooth, dark, creamy and strong. In a time where everything is being thrown into a barrel, Dark Horse is still showing how it’s supposed to be done. Damn-near perfection.
Compiled by Erik Hart, Mike D’Orazio and David Bardallis.