We’ve moved from New England to the Great Lakes for our most recent beer tour. The great lakes may not be on the top of your beer making regions list, but maybe after this article, it should be. Great Lake Brewers embody the character of their region and proudly imbue this into their craft of beer making.
As diverse as the landscape and fauna, beer from these states run the gamut of styles and flavors. Let’s begin our quest in the glorious state of Michigan.
Two Hearted American IPA – Bell’s Brewery, Inc.
Two Hearted American IPA, brewed by Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, uses American malts and a hefty hop addition giving this beer its crisp flavor and its immense popularity. When it is poured, it has a copper body and looks like any IPA. It smells of citrus, and the taste at first is hoppy, but in the end, it has a very mellow aftertaste, not like the average IPA. Two Hearted American IPA (7.0% ABV) seems to fit wherever it is enjoyed from the finest upscale restaurant to sitting around a campfire on a hunting or fishing trip; it’s that good.
Many reviews have called Two Hearted American IPA a well-balanced beer and very drinkable. One review caught my eye when I was trying this beer, “I’ve been drinking this beer for years and only realized I had never reviewed it. Top notch IPA, lots of love about this. Great aroma, great flavor, great body. The balance is perfect; everything is pronounced, but nothing is overwhelming, One of the best IPA’s you can buy.” After tasting Two Hearted American IPA, I can wholeheartedly agree. This is why Two Hearted American IPA is rated by America Unraveled as the number one beer in Michigan.
Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter – Great Lakes Brewing Company
Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (6.0% ABV) brewed by Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland is ranked number one in Ohio by America Unraveled and here is why: it is robust and bittersweet and when it is poured into a pint glass it is near black with a creamy to tan head. There is a deep chocolate aroma with this Porter and has the thick malt and pronounced hops flavor of a traditional Porter. The taste is full, big and nice.
The only way to understand why this beer is rated number one is to taste it. It doesn’t hurt that this magnificent Porter reminds us of the legendary freighter’s fallen crew caught in a storm on a late November day.
Sofie – Goose Island Beer Company
Sofie, brewed by Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago, is a Saison/Farmhouse Ale is rated as the number one beer in Illinois by America Unraveled. This beer is marketed as a very satisfying farmhouse ale which is 80% Belgian Style Ale and 20% Belgian Style Ale aged in wine barrels with citrus peel.
When Sofie ( 6.5% ABV) is poured into a pint glass, the color is champagne and with two fingers of foamy white head. The smell is tangy and aromatic. The taste is very satisfying – slightly tangy and with a fairly dry finish. This Saison is not in any way impacted by a few years of aging.
This is an amazing summertime Belgian.
Gumballhead – 3 Floyds Brewing Company
Gumballhead American Pale Wheat Ale (4.0% ABV) is brewed by 3 Floyds Brewing Company, in Munster. America Unraveled has picked this for the top beer in Indiana. Gumballhead is described by 3 Floyd’s Brewing Company “as an American Wheat beer with a refreshing, crisp citrus finish. This session beer is brewed with boatloads of Amarillo hops.”
This excellent sour wheat beer smells as good as it tastes.The taste can fool you because if you were blindfolded and given this to drink you would undoubtedly say it was an IPA. It’s taste is light and hoppy with a very pleasant aftertaste.
When you pour this beer, it also has a very pronounced citrus smell. Many think that the wheat in the ale adds a nice light crispiness to it. When it is poured into a pint glass, it has a clear color with a distinctive white foamy head. We, at America Unraveled, agree that Gumballhead is a unique and excellent American Pale Wheat Ale, and that is why we have ranked this beer the number one beer in Indiana.
Wisconsin Belgian Red – New Glarus Brewing Company
Wisconsin Belgian Red is brewed by New Glarus Brewing Company, located in New Glarus.
Here is a new treat for beer drinkers who are looking for something different. To be honest with you, I have never had a Fruit/Vegetable beer before tasting this Belgian Red.
When I poured it, and the beer hit the glass, it had a red hue and a good white head to it. The smell of cherries was very apparent. When I tasted the beer, the presence of tart cherries was very evident, and I was glad that it was not overly sweet. I thought the taste was exceptional.
I read that the New Glarus Brewing Company uses a pound of cherries per bottle to give it the reddish hue and just enough sweetness to make this an outstanding Fruit/Vegetable beer, which explains why we have chosen Wisconsin Belgian Red (4.0% ABV) as the number one beer in Wisconsin.
Furious – Surly Brewing Company
Furious, an American IPA is brewed by Surly Brewing Company, of Brooklyn Center.
If you want a strong hops presence in your IPA, you have found it in Furious American IPA (6.6% ABV). This IPA has been described as a “Tempest on the Tongue”.
Furious is brewed with American hops and Scottish malt. It comes in 16oz cans, a serving size that provides a sufficient amount for you to judge the quality and taste of this exceptional IPA. When Furious is poured into a pint glass, you will see a reddish, amber beer with a medium frothy off white head. The aroma of the beer is a caramel malt, and the taste is crisp and citrusy, with a slightly bitter finish. This striking taste stays with you for a good amount of time.
I felt that a second Furious was in order after the first, and we agree that Furious is a perfect example of an old school IPA, clean, full of big malt and hop flavors. America Unraveled has ranked Furious as the number one beer in Minnesota.
Alstrom, Todd, and Jason Alstrom. “BeerAdvocate.” BeerAdvocate. Beer Advocate, 2016. Web. 29 July 2016. <https://www.beeradvocate.com/>.