Sunday, August 15, 2010

Michigan: Liberty Street Brewing (Plymouth)

Liberty Street Brewing is a fascinating place. It’s the opposite of every other local brewery I’ve encountered: located in an historic enclave of an historical downtown, instead of the heart of the industrial district. Fine art on display instead of local art for purchase. Polished wood floors and area rugs instead of polished concrete. Oak paneling, granite-tiled bar and tables, bronze statues, elegantly exposed brick, stained glass on the door, a water fountain – I felt like I was in a grandly restored Victorian home instead of a brewery.

Liberty Street has been open for nearly two years now, and Bartender tells me business is good. That’s impressive news for any business in southeastern Michigan. The bartender was very chipper and helpful. The brewmaster was present and presumably available for questioning, though I did not have time to chat today. Notably missing: the bike jersey. Notably present: flies. (Hey, at least they weren’t mosquitoes.)

My favorite funny, back-visiting-my-roots moment of this trip was seeing that Baked Potato had played a local beer festival Liberty had participated the weekend before. Baked Potato is this band that some of my classmates started up in middle school. I used to have one of their tapes--it was really good. It's nice to see they have persevered.

Clementine LemonThyme (5.4%). I tried this one with cautious curiosity. Citrus fruits and herbs? I figured you couldn’t sell a beer like that unless it was awesome. And it was actually pretty good. I could taste the Clementine, the lemon, and the thyme, a unique combination impossible to ignore or forget. The official description says it is also spicy. I would respectfully disagree, and call it herby. Herbally. Herbish. The bartender described it as, “Like an Oberon, but with different flavors,” which I thought was more funny than accurate.

Naked Sunday. Belgian Tripel (11.0%). Sweetly decadent. Rich and heavy. A dessert beer, and a good one. I can see how you might have a supply of it on hand if you wanted to get someone naked on a Sunday in this conservative Metro-Detroit suburb.

Swheat Cherry Wheat (5.0%). The maraschino cherry odor smacked me in the face before I ever got the beer to my lips. I say ‘odor’ because it really wasn’t enjoyable. The flavor wasn’t any better. It tasted like watered-down maraschino cherry juice. It was brand-new when I was there. Perhaps they’ll work out the recipe in time.

Foreign Extra Stout (5.9%). Holy smoky. The smoky, woodchip flavor was loud. Loud and strong. If that makes sense. But it does kind of taper off into a nice mellowness a couple seconds after it’s out of your mouth. Not bad.

Liberty One. Their award-winning porter. Bartender tells me the award came from the slightly misnamed World Expo of Beer. The WEB is, in fact, a beer expo, but on a smaller scale than "world" would imply and offers about a tenth of the beers GABF does. Anyway, Liberty One is Bartender’s favorite. It's more subtle than most porters I’ve had recently. Not so obscenely malty; the malt is more in the background, allowing some of the other complex to get some. Good porter.

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