I used to be a bit of a purest when it came to my tastes in beer. The closest I came to a fruit beer was adding an orange slice to my Bells Oberon. Times have changed as the brewers in our state have produced so many interesting, flavorful fruity beers over the years, that I just had to start trying them. Now I must admit they add an extra dose of refreshment on those lazy, hazy days of summer. Here are a half dozen that any lover of brews will find worth the try.
Blueberry Lemonade Shandy (ABV: 5%) – Saugatuck Brewing Company
Citrus has long been a component in many popular beers, particularly lemon and lime, so it was no surprise when lemony shandy beer became the trend a few years back. It’s stayed a very popular choice for those craving something light and refreshing. Of course we don’t grow lemons here, but we sure do produce a lot of blueberries on the west side. Hence, this well-balanced unusual taste sensation out of Saugatuck. The combination of the tart lemon and the sweet blueberries really works, and yet it still retains a great beer flavor.
Soft Parade Shandy (ABV: 4.2%) – Short’s Brewing Co.
In a similar vein, Short’s added a hint of homemade lemonade to the recipe from its wildly popular standard, Soft Parade, which is loaded with berries. The result is a thirst-quenching summer offering that pours raspberry pink and is mildly tart, but seems to have even more berryliciousness (if only that were a word). It’s a little sweeter than its big sister, and goes down easily, especially in the heat.
Whango (ABV: 4.9%) – Atwater Brewery
If it’s summer in Motown then that means you can get a little tropical fix, courtesy of the brewing team from Atwater. Mango is the star in this taste of the islands. The sweetness of the mango is a nice complement to the wheat beer base. It’s crisp, light, and ideal for sipping alongside the Detroit River or at a lake near you.
Yumtown (4.5%) – Brew Detroit
It wouldn’t be much of a list representing the Great Beer State without also tapping into the Cherry Capital of the world. Brew Detroit does just that with this refreshing combo. They started with a light lager base and added notes of tart cherries and key lime. It’s so light that it’s almost like a seltzer, yet still tastes like a beer. The strong lime flavor is offset by sweetness from the cherries, making it almost reminiscent of a margarita. Regardless of what it reminds you of most, it’s definitely refreshing.
Rubaeus (5.7%) – Founders Brewing Company
While it’s available year-round, to me it’s not summer without sipping some Rubaeus. The raspberry flavor is so deep and authentic that you can easily think it’s just some kind of rich raspberry drink and not a beer. Whether you sip it from a bottle or have it served from the tap, Rubaeus seems to be the perfect blend of sweet and tart. If you are headed to a Founders taproom, look for a nitro version on tap. Nitrogen creates a less, fizzy, more creamy beer and with the raspberries it almost has a dessert effect.
Blood Orange Honey (ABV 6.2) – Cheboygan Brewing Company
This is another one on the list that is made all year, but it stole my heart in the summer. The first time I tried this orangey wheat ale, was immediately after working three days of our Buy Michigan Now Fest in 90-degree heat. Believe me, it felt like a summer beer then, and still does now, though I’ve also enjoyed one in other seasons. This medium-bodied brew is really enhanced by the addition of honey and blood orange puree. It’s so good, that it’s easy to ignore the fact that we don’t grow oranges here. Though we do produce some incredible honey.
Try a fruit beer or two this summer and let us know what your favorites are. Use #buyMInow on social media to share your recommendations.