Mr. Bluesky

Maker: Griffin Claw, Birmingham, Michigan, USA20160425_131117-1.jpg

Style: Wheat beer with grapefruit peel and coriander seed

ABV: 4.5%

Appearance: Cloudy gold with a lasting foamy head.

Nose: Wheat bread dough, citrus peel.

Palate: Citrusy, slightly sour, with a little spice.

Finish: Sour and a little bitter.

Parting words: Griffin Claw is located in Birmingham, Michigan, the affluent suburb just north of Royal Oak, location of Sipology Blog HQ. Birmingham is a women with big hats and little dogs kinda place. Which makes the quote that appears at the top a little #problematic. It’s a quote from Elmore Leonard: “There are cities that get by on their good looks. Detroit has to work for a living.” I’m sure Leonard meant it as a tribute of sorts, but coming from a brewery in one of the wealthiest, whitest cities in the metro area, it sounds more like a dig than a compliment.

That aside, there’s nothing wrong with this beer. It’s something I would order at the brewpub or someone else if I was in the mood for a spiced wheat beer. This is Michigan, though, and the competition here is fierce. If a brewery is going to make a beer in the style of the most popular beer from the most popular brewery in the state, it needs to stand out. Bluesky doesn’t. It’s not worth seeking out if unavailable near you. Mildly recommended.

El Rojo Red Ale

Maker: Griffin Claw, Birmingham, Michigan, USA2016-01-04-15.00.40.jpg.jpeg

Style: Red ale

ABV: 6.5%

Price: $8/4 pint cans (Holiday Market)

Nose: Roasted malt, caramel, dried fig.

Palate: Medium bodied and semi-sweet. Toasty on the back end.

Finish: Toasty and slightly bittEl Rojo Red Aleer, with a little sweetness for balance.

Parting words: Griffin Claw is a relatively new (2013) brewery in metro Detroit. Dan Rogers, seasoned craft beer veteran, is the master brewer. They have a limited portfolio but all of it is good. Their Raggedy Ass IPA is probably their best known beer, but they also make Screamin’ Pumpkin Ale, Grind Line Pale, Grand Trunk Pilsner and El Rojo.

Griffin Claw’s website says that they’ve entered El Rojo into contests as an English-style brown ale and I can see why. It’s closer to that style in flavor than it is to what I expect in something called a red ale. Whatever one calls it, it’s good. Pairs well with food. I’m not sure what the story behind the bandito caricature is though. Anyway, El Rojo is recommended.