MILFORD — You have to hand it to brewpubs — they mean what they say. The Arbor Microbrewery (formerly Corner Brewery) is in fact on a corner. The late, great Leopold Brothers was indeed owned by brothers named Leopold. And River’s Edge? Yep, it’s on a river.
Located in downtown Milford, the brewpub is bordered by Main Street, railroad tracks and the Huron River. Canoers or kayakers can pull over on the banks of the river and find themselves in front of a beautiful brick and steel building with a deck and plenty of windows.
Inside, the pub is spacious and bright. Patrons can sit at a table or at the long, shiny wood bar. There are games to play, but no televisions. The owners — longtime friends Tom and Mary Kaye Ouvry, Michael and Gill Last and Ryan and Carrie Wiltse — wanted a space where people could enjoy conversation and gather with their friends, rather than stare at a screen.
The brewery, which has been opened since Tuesday, has been packed. On Friday, people were lined up in advance of the 3:00 p.m. opening. By 4:00 on Friday, it was standing room only for a time and the business remained steady.
There is a great reason for the crowds — the beer is solid and has more than a few standouts.
With seven beers on tap, there are several brews to choose from. Here are my top picks, in no particular order:
Kolsch (5.25% ABV): I judge Kolsch beers harshly, because I think they are often overlooked and underappreciated. These are the gateway beers for many people, especially for people like my dad, who has spent decades drinking only macro beers. If a Kolsch tastes bad, then you may have lost that potential craft beer drinker. I am pleased to say that the Kolsch was spot on — slightly sweet and malty, but also with a light hop kick to it (but not enough for my dad to wrinkle his nose and say, “smells like a damn flower”).
Leonard Style Pale Ale (6.5% ABV): Pale ales sometimes wander too closely into the IPA arena for my tastes; however, I am pleased to say that this pale was solid. It had a nice, bready taste up front and a creamy mouth feel. I later read that this was a result of adding flaked oats…very good call as it added a nice complexity to the beer. The American hops still gave a floral and fruity taste, but were not overwhelming and provided a lovely finish.
River’s Edge IPA (7% ABV): I’m not a hop head and so I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy this IPA as much as I did. A variety of malts were used in this beer and I think that is what made me a fan; too, the floral and herbal hops (Centennial, Cluster, Cascade) did not overpower my nose or my palate. The beer was nicely balanced, but still let me know it was an IPA.
Dirty Frank Stout (5.7% ABV): This was my favorite beer of the flight — a full bodied stout that managed to not taste like charred coffee. Rather, it tasted of delicious smoked malts, molasses, a hint of spice and chocolate undertones. This definitely ranks in my top five stouts (and I am a huge fan of stouts!). Extra points for the “Shaft” reference included in the description in the menu.
With some brewpubs forgoing food offerings (and I understand why, no judgments), I was happy to discover a menu of sandwiches and snacks. My friend got the bread and pimento cheese and I’m not ashamed to tell you that we wolfed that down like we hadn’t been fed in weeks. I ordered the hot pretzel and mustard; it went well with the mustard, but even better with the pimento cheese. Next time, I plan to try the sandwich called Ryan’s Gift to Earth, which contains Sriracha mayonnaise and chopped peanuts — it’s gotta be a winner!
River’s Edge a lovely space and it has a great lineup of beers and food and I highly recommend taking a trip to experience it. However you get there — car, canoe, kayak, helicopter or hover board — head out to Milford and enjoy a relaxing atmosphere, scenic view and good brews!