Following an enjoyable labor-day weekend we left western New York and continued along Lake Erie.
After stopping in Cleveland for a sunset beer, “the king of beers” we spent the night on highway 90 outside of Elyria, Ohio. Without a particular destination in mind, we heard the city of Detroit calling to us and set our compass. Being Julia’s birthday “season” I found a brewery that crafted Belgian’s named Dragonmead, which as luck would have it, was close to our hotel.
By the way, Detroit and the surrounding metro area is an awesome city, zombie land, abandoned, condemned, forgotten but beautiful in it’s dystopian, post-apocalyptic Cormack McCarthy charm, which feels like a theme for the cities we travel to these days.
Now Dragonmead brews a lot of beers, their menu is extensive, put a better way, their menu is exhaustive, with so many beers tempting our small livers, we opted for a few flights, eat a pizza and hang out for the live music.
Bill’s Witbier, this traditional 400 hundred year old Belgian brew was true to form, straw gold like its supposed to be, with an imperceptible hop, slight fruit ester, some spice, the correct albeit sad level of alcohol, yielding a thin flavor but a clean and refreshed palate. Up next was the 4.5% Guinevere’s Golden Belgian Ale, this had a little more body from the toasted malt yet an understated hop presence and a strong sense of candied sugar. I’m not sure this is a true to form Belgian Pale but maybe the brewing process is similar enough. Since the walls of this brewery are adorned with mid-evil era swords, armored shields, knights of the round table bull shit, Beelzebub heads and serpents, I’m left with the impression that the brewers are renaissance nerds (said lovingly of course) who follow to the letter the original brewing practices and recipes of the days of yore, where as I’m more accustomed to the stronger, bigger beers of today.
Beer number three, Hopus Dei, a 9% Belgian IPA. I liked it, blend Belgian yeast with hops and I’m in. However, as with the first two brews this was still reedy in overall flavor, I’m thinking it’s the Detroit metro water or just Dragonmead’s aesthetic. The decent aroma was enticing, however the residual hop bitterness was for the most part unfortunately absorbed through the yeast and in the end left this beer rather thin. Wench Water, the next Belgian was far less complex and very easy to drink. Floral smelling with some citrus and a distinctive yet moderate spice. This smooth copper-colored ale featured almost no hop bitterness, unlike their other beers that felt like they were brewed in pre-colonial era Europe, this was a modern tasting beer, one that could hold up to the more popular and mass produced Belgian Pales of today. This one was my favorite.
Coming in at 11% is the Belgian Strong dark ale, Sin Eater, I like strong dark ales, and on paper this brew meets the criteria yet still drags sweet across the palate with only a touch of alcohol residue and almost no bitterness, a pretty good take on the style. I’m no connoisseur, but Dragonmead makes fine beer. Solid expressions of the styles, they are not my favorites but I would return to drink them and hear the cool music playing.
So, recently we were in Phoenix, Arizona, during Arizona beer week. It was a hot February evening and we stumbled into the Sunup brewery. It had been a very long day of driving and we were both road worn, Julia ordered the double bock (pictured on the left), it was a deliciously caramel and toffee flavored ale, refreshing and mildly boozy.
I predictably went for the Trooper IPA because of the Simcoe Hop (pictured on the right). It was a good true to form beer and the hop was not too piney or cat pissy as the Simcoe can often become, a sign of a good brewer is one who can handle the Simcoe and Uwe certainly can. Both brews were well crafted beers of the highest order. But the best was the ice cream and beer float. Incredible salted caramel ice cream in a bath of Sunup’s all American Amber. Wow! Outstanding, as the ice cream melted and leached it’s cool soft, sweet caramel into the perfectly balanced hop and malts, holy shit it was the holy grail of dessert and cordial. Below is the picture and ’till next time, cheers!