John C. Tull's picture

Judge's Review: 84 Rating - Huckleberry Cream Ale by Laughing Dog Brewing

October, 2020
Judges Rating: 
20 / 24
6 / 6
34 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
15 / 20

Huckleberry Cream Ale by Laughing Dog Brewing is a fruit “cream ale” with huckleberry and was judged as a Fruit Beer (29A). The first thing to notice in this beer is the big, fruity character. For the record, you might be asking yourself, “what is a huckleberry?” Basically, a huckleberry is a blueberry. I’m sure the blueberry purists are screaming into their pint glasses right now, but I’m sticking with that. If you pick up a glass of this beer and smell it, you will surely agree with me. Blueberry aroma practically crawls out of the glass. There is also a slightly perfumy quality as well, hinting at rose water, almost a little soapy. The beer is very clear, just a bit darker than straw, but paler than copper. A light ring of bubbles clings to the side of my glass, replacing itself with a steady supply of releasing carbon dioxide. The flavor, like the aroma, has a very big blueberry fruit quality with a light malt sweetness providing some balance to the fruit. There is a slightly tangy quality that picks up in the middle of the palate and follows through with a lingering, slightly soapy character. Again, as in the aroma, this quality, though quite subtle, is a bit distracting. Perhaps this is a result of fruit pith from the huckleberry, or maybe some vegetal or woody debris hopped a ride. Beneath the fruit is a cream ale with a little more malt backbone that lends some sweetness to the flavor, but no discernible hops flavor or bitterness. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied and characterized by a slight carbonic bite from the gas. There is also a light astringency, either from grain or the fruit. This is a genuinely interesting beer with a bold fruit character, and a light and refreshing quality. The aroma and flavor characteristics include some offsetting features, but those were relatively minor, and possibly an unavoidable side-effect of the huckleberry (the blueberry’s tart cousin).