11/15/19: South Haven Brewpub's Violet Beauregarde

1:19 PM

Today, we have another one of those beers that I've been hanging onto for a few months. Really, picking this beer up was the catalyst for the blog's Maple Beer Season. See, I had had South Haven Brewpub's Brewberry Pancake before (find it by scrolling to just near the bottom of the linked page). So, when my folks told me there was a bourbon barrel aged variant of it my thoughts ran wild.


The last time Michelle and I (Lottie was there, too!) were at Lake Michigan, we swung into the brewpub and I was able to sample the ale on tap. I was pretty impressed. I bought two bottles--one to enjoy now, during November 2019, and one to squirrel away for later. If you're ready, let's dive into my first bottle of the brew.

South Haven Brewpub is located along Michigan's Black River, right by where it flows into Lake Michigan. They're the first of South Haven's breweries (there are now officially three) and they have eleven rotating taps. All of this information, and more, can be found on South Haven Brewpub's website.

Like I said, Violet Beauregarde's a BBA variant of Brewberry Pancake. However this BBA'd-up ale isn't on South Haven Brewpub's website. So, what I'm writing here comes straight from my bottle's label: it's a 9% ABV BBA Brewberry Pancake. Now, if you didn't click on that link at the top of this post, let me tell you about Brewberry Pancake. It's an ale brewed with Michigan maple syrup, milk sugar, biscuit malt, and, of course, blueberries. It's meant to be reminiscent of blueberry pancakes.

Violet Beauregarde's nose is giving me maple and blueberry. There's also some brown sugar butteriness from the bourbon barrels. I find oakiness, raisin, and just a hint of booziness. Really, given the ABV and bourbon-barrel aging, I thought the booziness here would be much more potent. While the bouquet isn't exactly blueberry pancakes, it's still mighty fine. Charlotte agrees, seeing as how she gave my bottle eighteen whiffs and more than a few licks.

SUPER blurry pic of a sleepy pup
The barrel characteristics command pretty much all of the ale's flavor profile. Sure, I still get a touch of the blueberry and a fine smattering of the maple, but this is mostly vanilla, oak, sugary butteriness, and warming booze. While the finish is all bourbon, I'm also picking up on a slight sour tang Yeah, it's not incredibly mapley but it's still a great example of what bourbon-barrel aging can do, and I'm excited to see how my second bottle develops over the next few years.

I know this is an ale, but, hell, the mouthfeel's akin to a creamy milk stout. Well, I guess it has a bit more bite, but, before that bite hits, it's big, robust, and smooth. Maybe the barrel aging is the reason for this. Maybe it's the milk sugar. Maybe it's both, or neither. I don't know, but I'm here for the result.

Last year, in the middle of winter and during our second polar vortex (man, those are absolutely awful, huh) I was out clearing the snow from my driveway when a thought crossed my mind. See, we have lawnmower beers and they're a great big thing during summer months. Why don't we have snowshovel beers?

These could be big, warming thirst quenchers that are perfect to reach for when you've finished clearing the drive, the walk, whatever. I'm telling you, these might just be (although, the most likely won't be) the next big thing in craft beer. And, you know what? Violet Beauregarde'd be the perfect snowshovel (see, "snowshovel" here's a compound word to give it greater emphasis).

South Haven Brewpub's Violet Beauregarde is powered-up distillation of their Brewberry Pancake: There're discernable maple and blueberry notes, both of which are backed by bourbon sweetness and boozy warmth. While it's a damn fine beer right now, I'm certain that, with time, it'll be the powerhouse it's meant to be. Regardless, I'm giving it an 8.5/10. I have no idea if it's still available, but you may as well stop into the brewpub and ask.

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