The best milkshake we ever tried was had about eight years ago in Spokane, Wash., in a diner shaped like a giant milk bottle. It was a huckleberry shake, and the relatively gentle, mild character of the berries made their flavor a subtle accent to the shake’s vanilla ice cream. The berry flavor was a passenger, not a co-pilot, but its essence made the whole package a great deal more interesting and enjoyable.
That same underspoken subtlety comes through in the new Lift Bridge Brewing / Odell Brewing Peaks & Prairies pale ale, a beer that incorporates wheat, Minnesota blue corn, and Colorado huckleberries. The brew (shown above making an appearance at a local D&D night) pours a disconcerting berry red, but the flavor of huckleberries is mellow enough that it’s a cheerful, soft-spoken member of the beer’s flavor team rather than being its order-barking captain. There isn’t too much of a hop presence, which means that the mellow flavor of the huckleberries can be enjoyed without too much astringent interference, but the brew has enough of a body that it’s not a throwaway hot-weather nothing. It’s a moderate 5.75 percent ABV, so it will neither floor you after a glass nor leave you wanting for boozy substance.
We hadn’t planned on having much of the beer — just enough to sample and report on — but damned if it wasn’t so well-rounded, mellow, and agreeable that it compelled multiple return visits. This would be a lovely beer any time of the year, but its balanced berry character makes it an ideal choice for the advent of summer.