The incredibly popular beer M-43 from Old Nation Brewing Company is getting a fruity twist. You can now enjoy the hazy, citrusy brew with a hit of tart strawberry.
“I don’t mind a fruit beer when it’s appropriate,” brewery owner Travis Fritts told us. “Everyone has really wanted one of these really badly, so we thought we would try it.”
Tart Strawberry M-43 is now available across the state, and will retail for $14.99 for a four pack.
The Tart Strawberry M-43 is brewed with the same base as the original beer, with the addition of strawberry extract.
“We used the same four ingredients, but pushed our technique and manipulated our parameters to make a new beer,” Fritts explained.
The brewery sold a little over 300 tickets to a special brewery release this weekend. The tickets to the new beer sold out in a matter of minutes, but not to worry, the beer was also released across the state.
“You try to do what you think is best,” Fritts explained. “We also distributed 480 cases of it, and you can find it from Marquette to the Indiana border.”
Fritts has quite an extensive brewing background, having trained in Germany, and working across the state for over 20 years. He is a beer geek’s dream, a font of knowledge about the brewing process, and a brewer who is not afraid to try something new, if he has the science to back his idea up.
We won’t get too technical here, but needless to say, brewing up M-43 is hard enough. Adding a flavor to it added another complication.
You can get just a taste of the reasons why he chose an extract for this beer, from the post:
“There’s a third, brutish solution which we chose for the tart Strawberry M43. That’s using aroma extracts to get the aroma and flavor one is looking for. We chose the best flavoring we could and, for the whole batch, didn’t spend enough to raise the price of a 4 pack, which is why you’re getting it for $14.99, the same price we sell M43 at in the pub. It’s the same extract we’ve used for every small batch iteration of the Tart Strawberry M43 and, because extracts are extremely consistent, it should taste exactly like you remember. This is not the first time you’ve had a flavored beer which has used an extract (natural flavor). I’m not sure how many breweries have copped to this, but it seems to me like more should. I’m certainly not saying there’s anything wrong with using these flavorings and, short of making a kind of fruit/beer smoothie, it’s the only option for us to get the level of aroma and flavor we need out of a beer which can’t be aged. Additionally and while important to the final product not terribly relevant to the point of the story, we should also tell you that we lowered the pH a touch to help mimic the pH of the fruit, for easier recognition and to stabilize the beer biologically and non biologically.”
The beer has a definitive fruity aroma. When we tried it, one of us felt it smelled just like strawberry Nestle Quick, while another one said “Strawberry Bubble Yum”. At first sniff, we we unsure whether we would like this beer.
But after a sip or two, the beer grew on us. The strawberry flavor, while there, is not overwhelming. You still get all the citrus punch that M-43 is known for, and the base beer still shines through. The strawberry becomes almost a background note, and if you like fruity beers, you’ll most likely love this one.
The beer has a 6.8% ABV (alcohol by volume) and comes in with a hefty 65 IBU’s (international bittering units).
If you head to the brewery, you can try the whole family of North East IPA’s that the brewery is serving.
The original M-43 is a revelation when it’s poured straight from the tap, fresh as can be. The flavors are rounded out, with almost a note of sweetness in the middle of all that citrus. It was mega fresh in flavor, and probably the best pint of M-43 we’ve ever had.
The Boss Tweet, a double NEIPA, is dangerously delicious. It is a bigger, bolder version of M-43, with additional hop varieties of Magnum, Simcoe and Azzaca added. Watch out, it’s a bomber at 9.3% ABV.
Right now, they also have a collaboration on tap with Maine’s Foundation Brewery. The ME-MI is a triple NEIPA that is rounded out, full flavored and bodied, and super yummy. Another big one at 10%, it goes down nice and easy.
The Michigan’s Best team of John Gonzalez and Amy Sherman picked M-43 as our choice for Beer of the Year for 2017. You can read our review and reasons why here.
Because of the incredible success of M-43, Old Nation has recently purchased several new fermentors, and have raised their daily brewing capacity by 80%. They’ve also added a new pilot system that they can brew new, experimental beers on.
“Brewing M-43 is really pretty complicated, but the recipe that we are using now is almost exactly the same as the second time that we made it. With our additional investment, we are looking forward to continuing to brew up plenty of M-43,” Fritts said.
At this time, they don’t have plans to make any other flavors of M-43, but that may change. “You have to keep something of yourself. We are a bit untethered from what we set out to be, brewing traditional styles of beer. But you also have to give people what they want, and the demand for a flavored M-43 was pretty high.”
No worries, Old Nation. You stayed true to your brewing roots with this one, using innovative techniques in a creative, educated way, all while creating something new and refreshing. If you are an M-43 fan, you need to get your hands on this beer, if simply to say that you tried this limited release.
If you go:
Old Nation Brewing Company
1500 W Grand River Ave
Williamston, Michigan 48895