I’ve had plenty of blueberry-infused beers, but the base beer is usually a stout or a porter. Central State Brewing Co.’s Bleu takes a different turn with one of my favorite fruits – I literally eat blueberries daily – which is why I had to give it a try.
I liked what I tasted. I’m not going to be mixing it into my Cheerios every morning, but the always-nuanced Indiana brewery smacked a base hit with this one. The beer begins with a Central State staple, Table, which is a “rustic blond ale” brewed in the style of French and Belgian table beers. To get Bleu, brewers add several hundred pounds of blueberry puree, then re-ferment with house yeast cultures.
The French table beer nod perhaps explains the spelling of “Bleu.” And interestingly, the second fermenting with the blueberries hoists the beer from a sessionable 4 percent ABV – well in line with a traditional table beer – to a more robust 6 percent.
The beer is purple, with a foamy, pink-hued head, which should have been expected, yet it’s still odd to see a purple beer. The aroma carries an intriguing blend of fruit and earthy grains, making my palate ready for the next step. A sip revealed a deftly-blended beer, mixing the base ale with fruity blueberry. As noted before, I am a blueberry fiend, and to this point I had yet to experience a beer that comes close to satisfying my idea of what a blueberry beer should be, but Bleu gets in the ballpark.
As I sipped further, I found the fruit flavor began taking a back seat to the grains, yet with a blueberry’s tartness. And the tartness is what I crave most in my beloved berries, as I’ve always wished I could somehow find a way to sort through my pints of berries to pick out the tart ones and then give the sweeter ones away.
What I found in Bleu was three-fold, in a way: For one, the craftmanship that shows in this beer is exactly what I have come to expect from Central State, so this is no gimmick beer like some the larger breweries are rolling out. Second, take a step back and no matter what else it might be, it’s an excellent spring/summer sipper. And finally, if you have that friend who doesn’t really like craft beer, this might be one to serve as a gateway.
At the end of the day, it’s all about what you want in your beer, and I think Bleu is one that could satisfy discerning palates and amateurs alike. It’s simply, crisp, tart and enjoyable. Nothing wrong with that.
Bleu is also made with Indiana-grown pilsner and rye malts, and hopped from the Noble family (the actual hop variety varies). It’s available in cans and on draft. Check with your local bottle shop for this one.
Kevin Gibson is a Louisville, Ky.-based free-lance writer who writes about everything from food to music to beer to bourbon to professional football. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono (pissed her off a little, too). He is author of "Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft" (2014, History Press). He published his first novel, "The Liberation of Crystal Hill" (Bearhead Publishing), in 2011; he also published "Crohn's Disease: A Memoir from the Toilet" in January 2015 and his currently working on two more book projects. He co-hosts a weekly local radio show, and also plays in a couple of bands, the Uncommon Houseflies and the Nick Peay Band. Not surprisingly, he doesn't sleep much. But when he isn't running around town chasing stories or poised at his trusty laptop writing, you can often find him at one of the local breweries and being thankful for the life he lives. That, or he'll be sitting on his couch with his trusty sidekick Darby. Check out his beer blog, 502Brews.com, or his website, KevinGibsonWriter.com, to find out more about his books and why he does what he does. Or feel free to call him names on Twitter: @kgramone.