Leelanau Brewing Company
Lake Leelanau, MI

Style: Golden Ale
ABV: 7.5%
Another in the Ron Jefferies line of experimental and traditional breweries is the fledgling Leelanau Brewing Company. As a “farmhouse brewery,” they ferment in open vessels and age in oak barrels just south of Leland, Michigan, on the western peninsula northwest of Traverse City. Their brews are all Belgian inspired and bottle conditioned in the larger 750 ml bottles.
Jefferies is well known to Michigan brewing enthusiasts dating back to his days with the Schelde’s restaurant chain, the former Jackson Brewing Company and, most recently, Jolly Pumpkin Ales in Dexter, where I believe LBC’s beers are brewed until the Leelanau facility is ready.
This evening, I enjoyed their Good Harbor Golden Ale before, during and after dinner.
It pours a golden straw color, not unlike any macro brewed swill, at least until the yeast arrives. Appearances, however, are the last thing standard about this brew. It opens very fruity with a pronounced tart finish. The malty sweetness blends with hints of vanilla and an estery sweet-tart carbonation as it rolls around the tongue. The tartness can be a bit much alone, but it pairs nicely with many dishes or cheeses and its lighter body belies the supposed 7.5 percent ABV and 1067 original gravity, according to the brewer’s notes. While it certainly doesn’t seem that strong, it is very complex. I found hints of tannins, citrus lemon, and pineapple over the course of the bottle.
That all said, this ale is probably not for everyone. The tartness can be offsetting and its complexity is pretty standard for most Belgian yeast strains. As a biére de garde (“beer for keeping”), I’m also not sure how the lighter body will hold up if this beer is aged—per the label suggestion—up to a decade …although, I have a feeling it will do nothing but sour for the worse.
It’s a nice brew, very interesting, but nothing extraordinary.