5 Bbl Bitter Blueberry Blonde

5 Bbl Bitter Blueberry Blonde
1 draught pint, $3.75, 5.1% ABV

Purchased at Cambridge House Brew Pub, Granby

bblOoooOOOh, Cambridge House is doing small batch brewing now? But wait, haven’t they always done small batches, more or less? I guess not 5 barrel size batches.

When I read “bitter blueberry” I think of one thing: The sad, sordid tale of the legendary Wood family blueberry bushes. And believe it or not, I’m not alone in this. (Well, I am alone in this in Connecticut, but it’s time to spread the story.)

My granddad moved from urban Chester, PA to suburban Brookhaven back in the 1950’s. There was a large field behind his property owned by a natural gas pipeline company. Through a handshake agreement, they allowed my granddad to have a garden back there. Through the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, my grandparents, parents and all sorts of friends and relatives worked those fields. When I was a kid, it’s just what I did every weekend.

I never ate a store bought vegetable or berry in my life until I went to college. Seriously. (it was a BIG garden.)

Sometime in the 60’s, Granddad planted a row of highbush blueberry bushes. By the time I was of an age where I can remember stuff (oh, around 1977 or so), I remember picking blueberries off those bushes. Huge, succulent blueberries.

Through the 80’s and the 90’s, no one had better blueberry muffins or pancakes or scones than me. NO ONE. The bushes were pruned to perfection, birds were kept at bay by a huge wooden and net structure my dad built and the bushes were prodigious. You can’t even believe how big and plentiful the berries were. It was ridiculous.

IMG_3730You could pick a pint blindfolded in two minutes, they were so huge and omnipresent.

All of our friends and neighbors came to love the Wood garden blueberries. Through the 00’s and into the 10’s. My dad was older and his dad had died, but my brother moved into the house and the bushes, now 50 years old, kept producing like mad.

Then it happened. My entire life of going “up to the garden” I had seen housing developments pop up all around the pipeline property. But the garden was always protected holy land. Then one day, my dad got a letter from the pipeline company that they were expanding their footprint and the garden would have to go.

But the blueberry bushes and their protective housing would be able to remain.

Until they wouldn’t. My dad fought and argued for the company to save the bushes. There was NO NEED to destroy them as there was plenty of room for the trucks and crap that would be coming in. Nope: The parking lot needed to overtake the bushes.

IMG_3731My father was devastated. Really, he was. They put a temporary stone lot where the bushes used to stand – and according to my brother, used it for a couple days only.

Now, over a year later, this travesty is still mentioned seemingly every day. I was just down with my family last week and it came up several times. My friends even mentioned it. It’s like the holocaust of SE Pennsylvania and northern Delaware.

Wood Family Blueberries, RIP. (This is my niece picking berries in 2008.)

Bitter blueberries indeed.

The name of this beer on the CHB chalkboard was, strangely, unreadable. There was a Greek letter or two for some reason. Sort of like uppercase Sigma-5-B. Why? I have no idea. The Greek symbol for 100 (this beer uses Centennial hops) is rho. Not that it matters.

CBH says:
Small batch blonde ale dry-hopped with Centennial and blue berries.

Do you want to know what this beer tasted like? It tasted like a blonde ale dry-hopped with a few blue berries tossed in… just like they say.

In truth, the blueberries were barely discernible on the nose, but not really on the palate. And I was okay with that. If I tried really, really hard, I could taste some berries. Maybe. It could have been psychosomatic. But overall, this was an ok beer with some hop bitterness overlaying your basic ale.

Post destruction

And it’s not like CHB is using this small batch barrel thing as a ploy. It’s just something they are doing now I guess with their new (2013) head brewer – at the same time that several other breweries are moving towards the same idea: smaller batches, quicker turnover, more room for experimentation.

And I’m all for that when done well. This one just missed the mark it was going for.

Overall Rating: C-
Rating vs. Similar style: n/a

Beer Advocate’s Reviews of the Blueberry Bitter Blonde
Cambridge House Brew Pub
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