Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ellicottville Brewing Company - Blueberry Wheat

Ellicottville is right in the southwestern corner of New York, a small town that's best known for Holiday Valley, a ski and golf resort which is a major tourist attraction for the region.  It's known as the Aspen of the East.

I was never much of a skier - I took one lesson as an extremely un-coordinated teenager, on a family holiday, and ended up colliding with some poor Austrian kid in the most undignified manner imaginable.

I tried to use my 6 months of high-school German lessons to apologise and make sure the guy was OK...knowing my luck, I probably accidentally told him that I have 5 cousins and 4 aunties, and that I enjoy potato salad with sausage and sauerkraut.

Which would explain the confused look he gave me as he beat a hasty retreat into the snowy mountains.

So, me and skiing - not a match made in heaven.  Me and beer, however - much better suited, as I discovered a couple of years later in college.

That's good, because Ellicottville has had its very own brewpub since 1995, appropriately named the Ellicottville Brewing Company.  They have two locations - one in Ellicottville, and another in Fredonia - and their brews have received international acclaim.  I'm excited to try out another Upstate brewery, and one which puts out award-winning product!  Some of their brews sound really interesting - for instance 'Pantius Droppus', an Imperial Pale Ale which apparently gained a priest's blessing at a summer festival...the mind boggles but I'm certainly intrigued.

So, I'm reviewing their Blueberry Wheat - fruit beer is always great for the summer, and I think American Wheat is often chosen for the base style because it's got a light body and gentle character which allows room for the fruit character to make itself known, and not clash with any strong malts or hops.

The brew pours a straw-like colour, with brilliant clarity and moderate carbonation - a discernible head but not too big.  This is just right for a wheat-based fruit beer.

As far as the aroma goes, the blueberry is quite strong and sweet, with a subtle wheat underneath.  It's not overpowering, and it's a sign of good things to come!

The beer has a good, distinctive blueberry taste - not artificial and not overly sweet, with a slight tartness which you'd associate with the fruit itself.  As you drink, a sweetness comes through and lingers in the aftertaste.  Hops are restrained and not overt in the taste - a good thing, as I'm not sure a distinct hop flavour would be a good complement for the blueberry.  A really pleasant, summery beer.

The mouthfeel was light in body, with moderate carbonation.  Refreshing and thirst-quenching - as a summery, fruit beer ought to be!

Overall, this is a really good fruit beer with great character - a cold six-pack of this would be a great addition to anyone's summer cookout, or an evening out on the porch with some friends.


Appearance - 4.5/5
Aroma - 4/5
Taste - 4/5
Mouthfeel - 4.5/5

Overall - 4.25/5.

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