It’s been a while since I’ve reported on beer (a year, yikes!) so, over the weekend, I had the opportunity to visit a new up-and-coming brewery in Pontiac, MI that opened its doors on July 21st, Exferimentation Brewing Company.
As soon as you drive in the historic downtown district of Pontiac, one gets the feeling that help is not only on the way, but is ready to open the doors of prosperity in the downtown area. Over the last five years, the downtown area has experienced some flight and shock after the loss of events and the legal wrangling between city, county and company over what to do with Phoenix Towers and the Phoenix Center.
However, visiting downtown on a Saturday night showed more life than I have personally noticed in years. Restaurants ready to open, food trucks, bars, diverse music venues and night clubs light up Saginaw Street all the way to the loop, and wedged in-between is Exferimentation, located next to the Blue Note Cafe and lies across the street from the soon to be opening site of Slow’s BBQ.
Applying a great style to such a historic storefront, Exferimentation believes in the science of its beer and wears it on its sleeve as you enter the brewery and you’re surrounded with a DIY periodic table on the wall, with the brewery’s logo hanging proudly above it, an equation to mirror the scientific/mathematical theme. The brewery’s own label art for its flagship beers coat the original brick walls of the seating area, which also showcases a DIY aesthetic. One item you’ll notice immediately is the tables being made from former doors, as well as a copious amount of large chairs and couches to take a seat and relax with your craft beer of choice.
Like many breweries at their open – Exferimentation believes in the beer first, and as such does not offer food, but there was a food truck right next door to the venue as well as food options nearby in the downtown area. However, prices were steady at $6-7 a beaker, with growler fills in the low $20s for imbibers who would rather have a take-home option.
Typically the first test of a brewery at its open is the quality of beer, and given the homebrewing prowess of Exferimentation’s brewers, clearly they found styles that not only work very well, but make for an impressive start.
First up was a Hisbiscus Wheat ale called the Pink Tickler, which has an expected pink tint but proves to be an excellent thirst-quencher. The hisbiscus combines with the wheat to give the beer a clean, crisp and just slightly tart (but not sour by any means) finish. Makes for an excellent palate cleanser as well as a great option for a lawnmower beer as well.
Clownpocalypse, their Coconut Cream Ale not only shined in the coconut flavor not being overpowering, but rather modest alongside the refreshing nature of the cream ale to make a great, sesssionable beer for coconut fans. Normally, I’m not one, but this was the first sample I polished off in the flight because it hit the cream ale and the coconut notes just right. Typically, it’s either too much of one or the other and Clownpocalypse balances them nicely.
Mysterious Stranger followed in the flight, a beer that had no explanation by the brewery’s site and its own literature, leaving it up to the taster as to what it may be. I noticed some sweetness and malty elements, perhaps additions of wheat or honey. The mouthfeel on the beer lived up to its name as I couldn’t quite put my finger on it – especially with its lighter brown/orange color, as to what it was. It looked like more of an IPA/Pale Ale, but didn’t taste like one at all.
Kakahiaku Onu rounded out the flight, Exferimentation’s take on the modern classic Coffee Stout style, with very liberal doses of legitimate Kona coffee from Hawaii added to the stout which gives it the color, scent and taste of a fresh, strong cup of coffee. Being a coffee acheiver myself, Kakahiaku Onu hit every note that I want out of a coffee stout. Bitter, roasty notes and a slight element of chocolate/mocha give the beer the feeling of my morning wake-up call, only in a late night setting.
My favorite of the bunch was tied between the great cup of coffee that was Kakahiaku Onu and the refreshing Pink Tickler, but I will be looking forward to the upcoming release of GRIPA – a Grapefruit Rye IPA for short. Everyone at Exferimentation were very friendly and talkative regarding the brewery and its beers – they also seemed very thankful for the high volume of customers between the opening night and Saturday.
Another brewery, Fillmore 13 plans to open later this season only two storefronts down from Exferimentation and looks to be another fine add on to this great downtown region, but EBC was first to open and as such, had all eyes on them and my trip will definitely not be my last. I was very impressed with the flagship beers, and look forward to supporting this brewery very close to home as they hopefully succeed in the next few months.
More info on Exferimentation Brewing can be found at:
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