3/4/20: Ellicottville Brewing Company's Blueberry Maple Pancake

3:02 PM

It's March now. I don't know how, but we slipped into the third month of 2020 without my notice. Which is fine. Because March is, to most people, maple syrup season. I say "most people" because, to the blog, November is maple syrup season. Still, I'm more than willing to give a maple beer a go in March.

Today's beer isn't just a maple beer, however. No, it's a blueberry maple beer. You might call me a connoisseur of blueberry maple beers. While I've had at least a dozen of them, only three have made it to the blog in the five years (!) I've been doing this (those are, by the way, Saugatuck's Blueberry Maple Stout, its 2018 barrel-aged variant, and South Haven Brewpub's Violet Beauregarde, all of which are great). I guess you could easily say that I have high expectations whenever I encounter a new blueberry maple beer. Meaning, of course, that I have high expectations for Ellicottville's Blueberry Maple Pancake.

Back in 1995, Ellicottville Brewing Company (EBC henceforth) opened in Ellicottville, NY. The company was able to perfectly pair craft beer with Upstate New York's ski culture. Its expansion was inevitable. Now, it operates three brewpubs and a facility with a pub, large-scale brewing operation, and craft beer science center. This final location was, according to EBC's "Our History" page, set to open last year. I'm not sure if it actually did.

Blueberry Maple Pancake (I'll shorten this to Pancake for the rest of this post) doesn't have an official presence on EBC's website. That's okay, though; Untappd has our back. According to Pancake's profile there, the 7% ale is brewed with syrup from Sprague's Maple Farm and (get this!) blueberries. I'll also note that it's seasonal so, if you want some after reading this, you really should jump on it.

Pancake's bouquet is definitely appealing. It's blueberry, pancake batter, and a hint of maple syrup. If I dig deeper I find some booze and brown sugar. The aromatics equate to a hearty pancake breakfast in a bottle. I'm blown away by the quality of the nose and it looks like Purrl, who gave my bottle seventeen whiffs, is similarly blown away.

The pancake batter carries through to the flavor, as do the blueberry and, to a lesser extent (although it's still decidedly here), the maple. The brown sugar's no longer present but the booze lingers a bit in the finish. Unfortunately, the whole thing's stretched thinly. There's a wateriness here that's leaving me pretty damn underwhelmed and really contradicts the ale's wonderful bouquet. It's not bad, but it's definitely not what I'd hoped it'd be. EDIT: Future John here taking a break from proofing this post to say that I'm now picking out a Smarties candy sweetness in the beer. It's prevalent in each swig and lingers in the finish far longer than the booze. This flavor's not super appealing in a maple blueberry beer. 

You might think that a beer like this would have a velvety, almost syrupy, mouthfeel. That's not the case--this is actually sharp and bitey. Yet another thing contrasting the ale's aroma.

Michelle and I rarely make pancakes anymore because we can never get through them all. It's just the two of us and we always make way too many. We freeze what we don't eat and I whittle my way through the leftovers for a week or so after the initial making of them. Frozen pancakes, by the way, never reheat properly.

Regardless, I have fond memories of making pancakes in our old apartment. Walking down the stairs and into our kitchen on sunny Sunday mornings, mixing the batter, both of us standing and supervising as bubble manifest in each splotch of it on the pan dousing the finished product in a healthy slathering of maple-flavored store brand syrup. Those morning were good mornings, and I need to give Ellicottville kudos for helping me to recall them now.

Blueberry Maple Pancake, which runs $10/sixer, is my second EBC beer. I wasn't super impressed with the first one I tried and, unfortunately, I'm not super impressed with this, either. I'm giving it a 7.0/10. I don't think I'll be dabbling in EBC brews again for a while--they're just not worth it when I can find more enjoyable beers for the same price.

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