Looking back, I’ve reviewed a lot of blueberry beers. I can’t help it – I love fresh blueberries and I happen to live in a state that has a lot of ’em. Maine actually is the largest worldwide producer of low bush blueberries – so we’ve got them coming out our ears. So what better way to start the summer than to jam a few into a beer?
Many Maine and New England breweries make blueberry beers, but this one by Sebago is handled a little differently. Blueberry beers have a reputation for being very sweet – and at worst can taste like kid’s cereal instead of a satisfying brew. This can be due to the use of additional blueberry flavorings added after fermentation, leaving a candy-like taste behind. I do like sweet things, but sometimes the blueberry is just too fruity for me.
The name Bass Ackwards Berryblue Ale is for its unconventional use of only fresh blueberries in the fermenter without the use of flavorings added, unlike most blueberry ales. The result is a surprisingly simple drinkability that enables you to drink more than one.
The result is interesting. The beer is a deep purply red color, and the blueberries even add a little pink to the head. The aroma is not sweet but rather slightly malty and has a back end of blueberry jam.
The taste, too, has connotations of blueberry pie or blueberry syrup – there’s a cooked quality to it. This could be (speculating, here) because if they’re adding the blueberries after the boil and before fermentation, it’s likely that the berries are slightly cooked during this process. The mouthfeel on this is relatively thin, which combined with the lack of overpowering sweetness is why I think that Sebago is confident you can drink more than one of these in a sitting. Though, I’d have to say that because it comes in the larger bottles (rather than a 6-pack) this is still something that will likely get shared and sipped, instead of chugged at a barbeque.
Bottom line? If you don’t like blueberry beers because they’re too sweet, this may be the only one made with blueberries that you’ll enjoy. Honestly, I’d like to see an imperial made out of this – something a little heavier and more dessert-like, perhaps – that would give the cooked berries something else to meld with.