Thanks to Joe Weitlispach for bringing a growler of this up to Holland, MI this past weekend. Front Street recently moved their brewing operations to the Freight House, where they will accompany the Farmers market. As the restaurant remained in the old location, the beers will be changing, beginning with the Pale ale. Tasted for the first time Friday night (after Eric opened the growler!) but I didn't have a chance to review it until Sunday evening, given the weekend was full of events (i.e. Hatter Days). In any case, enjoy!
Appearance: A perfect amber with a great clarity. Obviously, since the growler had been open for a couple days, the carbonation and thus the head were very minimal. Nevertheless, a thin white ring coated the glass. Some haze was present.
Aroma: Fruits and hops are the most prominent. I get notes of peaches, apricot and even mango. The grain bill is primarily a biscuit with a mild caramel sweetness. The yeast definitely fermented on the high, estery side.
Taste: Very sweet tasting, but with a dark tropical fruit flavor derived from fermentation and encouraged by the hops. The start is generously carameled with undertones of toffee. The flavor moves forward into an estery character midway through which is then balanced by a bite from the hops, easily giving the impression of nectarine and mango. The beer overall embellishes a floral persona with a finishing dryness. Alcohol can be gurgled into a vapor at the end, putting it notably on the high side. Finally the end maintains a faint green flowery flavor.
Overall Impression: It seems this beer was made in an effort to tone down the hops from the original Raging River Pale ale as the malt bill increased. I thoroughly enjoyed the fruit character incorporated into this one, while the hops further encouraged a tropical aspect to the beer. Bigger, but with little sacrifice to drinkability. Nice work Front Street, I can't wait to be back in the QC and check out the new Freight House location