Yesterday was a pretty good day. I had the opportunity to sit down and relax a bit and forget that tomorrow I have to present my thesis defense. I have to say that this process has been one of the most mentally taxing and at the same time, incredibly rewarding experiences I’ve ever undertaken.
I’ve been overall pretty impressed with a lot of the beers in this calendar so far. I’ve felt that many of them were quite tasty and have given me yet another opportunity to try a variety of different styles and flavours in beers. Today will be no different as we have a Blueberry Maple Stout coming to us from Saugatuck Brewing Company in Douglas, Michigan. Douglas is a city that is after our own hearts. It’s been the “City of friendliness” since 1870. Well, Friendly Manitoba says hello Douglas.
Developed as a three-phase brewery plan by founder and original brew master Barry Johnson, Saugatuck Brewing Company first opened its doors in 2005. In its infancy it consisted of a 3.5 barrel “brew on premise” system in a leased industrial space. 3.5 barrels is about 300 litres of beer, not very much when you are providing interesting and tasty craft beers. So, in 2008 they moved to a 25,000 sq/ft facility that was fully remodeled to include an Irish style pub providing not only tasty beers but also tasty snacks. They continued to use the “Brew on premise” system allowing for patrons to come in and brew their own beers to be taken away in bomber bottles after fermentation and carbonation were complete.
Around this same time a 10-barrel system was installed in the brew house and production began en masse of and start planning for regional distribution of their beers. Starting with a meager 70 barrels of fermentation space and only a single 650ml bottle filler, their first year consisted on only 250 barrels. In 2010 they purchased Meheen 6 head bottle filler and in-line labeler enabling them to produce 4 mainstay styles of beer to be sold in six-packs. This allowed them to distribute not only to the lower part of Michigan but also into Chicago and they managed to reach 2000 barrels of production in 2012.
Today, Saugatuck Brewing boasts a large 45-barrel system paired with 960 barrels of fermentation space. With newly installed bottling system and a fleet of over 6,000 kegs they are able to produce on average 13,000 barrels per year with a large scale distribution. They produce a number of mainstay beers as well as seasonal and specialty beers. They’ve got quite the team over there as well, head up by head-brewer Ron Conklin and provide little write-ups on each member on their website.
This is the fourth stout that we’ve had in this advent calendar and, although a different variation on the style, I already did a write up on stouts on Day 2. So if you are interested in reading a bit more about the Stout style, feel free to take a look at that one.
This particular stout is an American Stout and uses the base style of beer, essentially hops, roasted malts resulting in dark colour and caramel, toffee, and/or chocolate notes in the flavour. It has then been flavoured using most likely blueberry syrup as well as maple syrup to provide those two addition flavours. American stouts are generally has more roasted malt flavours and are a bit hoppier than their Irish or English counterparts. Breweries will express individuality through their choice of roasted malts and flavourings and this one has had both blueberry and maple flavours likely through the addition of syrups. It should contain most of the appearance, smell and flavour of stout but with the addition of the blueberry and maple flavours. Let’s try this one, I am excited to see how those blueberry and maple flavours come through.
Glassware: Stein, Pint Glass, or Snifter.
Temperature: 8-12 Celsius
Appearance: Jet black with a tan head that fades quickly leaving fast uprising bubbles.
Smell: Big blueberry aroma with hints of maple sweetness. Really smells like blueberry pancakes with maple syrup. There is a slight roasted malt with notes of chocolate present but only as undertones.
Taste: Ridiculously sweet taste. Almost overwhelmingly so. It tastes like drinking blueberry syrup on the first taste, but once your palate has adjusted to the sweetness, it tones down a bit and some roasted malt comes through. Slight roasted malt notes, low to non-existence hop bitterness, everything is outshone by the blueberry and maple notes.
Mouthfeel: Soft carbonation, full body, and sweetness dominating from start to finish.
Overall: This is a very sweet stout. The flavour is dominated by the maple and blueberry and completely overwhelm any other flavour that might be there. It would make a good desert beer to be sipped slowly in front of a fire or after a meal.
Do I like it: No. I found that this beer was far too sweet. The blueberry flavour was artificial tasting and the maple flavour was too much like syrup. This beer was toned WAY up on the sweetness factor and was completely out of whack with any of the other flavours that might have been there.