Weekly Beer Geek: Michigan Lager


Michigan Lager

Atwater Block Brewery


Grade: B+


The Beginning

About 4 weeks ago I moved into a new apartment. I took a lot of stuff my old roommates left in the fridge- and apparently this beer is one of them. Poor little thing was orphaned with no price tag, but it’s mine now. Labor Day weekend was just upon us, the unofficial end of summer (never give up!) and the last major travel day for a lot of last-minute vacationers. One problem faced us: Gas now costs your firstborn, and trading her to wandering gas gypsies could have put a damper on the fun. Solution? Stay close to home! I was on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, and I hope plenty of other people were doing the same and enjoying all our state has to offer. Including beer. Beer named after the state. See where I’m going with this?


The Brewer’s Pitch

Michigan Lager is a balanced Dortmunder-style lager of a style originating in Germany. Like many other lagers it strikes a balance between sweet lightly-roasted malt and bitter hops, simple and satisfying. The Dortmunder style is also hallmarked by the very high mineral content of the water used to brew it- true Dortmunders will have a slightly dry body from the minerals that may also give an earthy background taste.


The Beer

Michigan Lager is a pale gold, heavily carbonated with a dense golden-white head. It smells very cold and hoppy, with strong floral notes and a light alcoholic tang. It opens up quite crisp and sharp before blossoming into a broader malt profile, tasting a bit bready and sharp with a noticeable bite from the alcohol. The hops do no truly come into play until after the swallow, when they slowly fade in and provide a clean crisp bitterness all along the back of the tongue and roof of the mouth. This brew is on the heavy-bodied side, smooth and velvety and rolling over the tongue much more thickly than the color would suggest.


The Breakdown

This is a very good summer lager; the hops are perfect to keep it refreshing and clean but not overwhelming. The aftertaste builds a little and the bitterness becomes heavier as you go, so I might recommend this as going better with food than on its own. It’s a simple beer, though, so no fancy pairings required- I matched it with a slice of cheap pizza and it tasted just fine to me, and I think burgers or hot dogs off a fire would to the trick nicely as well. The bitterness is a bit much for a session beer- it could get irritating in large quantities, and the beer isn’t quite complex enough to be worth a fancy tasting session. Don’t play games, just mix this with food at your next cookout or tailgate.


The Bottom Line

I mentioned Lake Michigan Earlier- Atwater Block Brewing is in Detroit, so feel free to go there instead. You can look at the Detroit River. Maybe it will catch on fire.


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