Saugatuck Brewing Company
Style: Blond Ale
Saugatuck Brewing Company is a pretty funky little place. It’s built in a pole barn right on the Blue Star Highway in southwest Michigan and is attached to an antique mall and shopping center, which means some of the clientele that wanders in is surprised to find that they’re not in Kansas anymore.
They’ve been open a couple years, however, and the build-out is nice, with a huge terrace in front of the place, large Irish pub tasting room with pub grub and an enormous “bier hall” behind that, which is used for community theater, large meetings, and occasional concerts. They also have a brew-on-premises operation, which supports a weekly Saturday brew crew who can choose from among seventy house recipes or create their own either with or without the help of staff. As the area is more or less a tourist community, they also have bed and breakfast packages available for longer visits.
We stopped in yesterday—as we were in the neighborhood and I’d never been there—and dug into their sampler platter. They had twelve brews on tap, using multiple yeast strains and including a house cider. There was also a couple house wines available. None of them sucked, which is saying something for most brewpubs, although the Scotch Ale had a severe case of DMS. In addition, they did something that EVERY brewery should be doing: they RINSE each and every glass before pouring a beer into it! Way too many breweries put a ton of time and effort into their brews and then ruin them by allowing the bartender to pour into dusty or dirty glassware, which kills the head and can produce off flavors.
After all was said and done, I settled into a pint of Oval Beach Blonde, which is their “lightest” ale. Typically, I wouldn’t go for the training wheels beer, but unlike most small breweries, this one wasn’t just light and fizzy to appeal to the macro-beer drinker. It had a very light copper color and actually had a little body upon the first sip. The head laced the glass nicely and the flavors were clean sip after sip as the light malty sweetness rolled into a crisp finish. It was a very nice effort for a blonde offering and makes an excellent session beer.
They distribute a few of their brews throughout southwest Michigan in the 22-ounce bomber bottles and on draft, including their porter and IPA. I can also recommend their Dusseldorf Altbier and Pier Cove Porter on location if you have a chance to check them out, but their selections rotate regularly, so you may find a few winners of your own when you visit.
The Blonde is solid and probably slightly above average for its style, but not quite exceptional.