Maine’s brewers may have stumbled onto a way to make fruit beers more palatable to your standard beer drinker. You make the fruit flavor just barely detectable.

That, at least, was the key to the success of Smashed Blueberry (the latest in the series of Alan Pugsley’s Signature Series from Shipyard Brewing Co.) and Pete Fen’s Finest Ale (a malt beverage brewed with cranberry concentrate from the Manly Men Beer Club, the specialty beer segment of Atlantic Brewing in Bar Harbor.)

I bought the 22-ounce Smashed Blueberry for $6.99 on the way to a meeting, stashed it in the refrigerator during the meeting, and split it with eight guys after the meeting. I figure that got it pretty close to the 55 degrees Fahrenheit that Shipyard recommends.

The group tasting included four beer geeks, including three who brew their own and one guy who prefers wine to beer and was joining in just to be sociable. A couple of them were prepared to seriously dislike this beer.

The surprise was that everyone, even the wine guy, liked it, and a couple of them loved it. You could smell just a little bit of the blueberry before drinking, but the flavor at the front was mostly the chocolate malt of an excellent porter. It had a good, heavy mouth feel with fairly heavy carbonation. At the end of the flavor, there was just a bit of smoke.

Shipyard’s publicity describes this as a hybrid of a porter and a Scotch ale, and it is a good hybrid, taking the best of both. The beer contains 9 percent alcohol, and since it is 22 ounces, you would want someone to share it with.

Other beers in Pugsley’s Signature Series are Smashed Pumpkin, Barley Wine Style Ale, Imperial Porter and XXXX IPA, and I have enjoyed them all except for the pumpkin.

I didn’t even get the aroma of cranberries in Pete Fen’s Finest Ale. There was a bit of tartness that might have come from the cranberries, but the beer reminded me of a Flemish sour ale. And since I like Flemish sour ales, this is certainly a good thing.

I spoke to Doug Maffucci, founder and owner of Atlantic Brewing, on the day he and his assistant brewers were about to meet to decide on this year’s Manly Men offering. He said the Manly Men series just allows them to do something a little quirky instead of the beers they brew all the time.

Pete Fen’s Finest Ale is quirky and tasty. I bought it at Downeast Beverage on Commercial Street for $8.99. It contains 8.5 percent alcohol, and is supposed to be cellared at 55 to 60 degrees.

Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at

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