Tag Archive: Fruit


Wild Beer Co: Rhubarber (England: Fruit Beer : 6% ABV)

Visual: Dark, cloudy apricot with large white fluffy head.

Nose: Tart rhubarb in an unsweetened fashion. Ground ginger. Ground almonds. Light sulphur. Brown bread.

Body: Stem ginger. Smooth. Custard and vanilla toffee touch. Cream. Lightly tart. Rhubarb. Bitter nuts. Tart grapes. Lactose. Apples. Nutmeg. Salt.

Finish: Rhubarb. Ginger. Solid custard to egg custard tarts – Surprisingly not sweet in that. Salt touch. Lightly earthy. Peppery.

Conclusion: Well, this is a lot less sweet that I expected. Now, I did expect the rhubarb to be unsweetened rather than in a dessert pie fashion – and I got that right – it is tart and very robust. I was impressed with the amount of rhubarb character – previous rhubarb beers I tried had very light to no rhubarb influence while this just booms with its tart, dry, earthy and peppery character.

Anyway, back to the lack of sweetness. There are custard like notes, as mentioned on the bottle in fact, kind of in a solid egg custard tart kind of way, but kind of dry in that – like the custard has been under sugared or something. I don’t know of any actual custard that exists that tastes hat exact way, but that is the imagery the beer creates.

Instead of custard sweetness this emphasizes the earthiness along with the ginger spice to give a real spicy, peppery, ginger, earthy kick – warming and robust over the smooth, slightly creamy textured body. Late on and into the finish it gains a light salt touch that calls to the gose style and which works well at reinforcing these spicier elements.

This character dominates most of the beer, until it finally starts to let up slightly at the end where it relaxes and some soft green fruit comes out. It is a final salty sweet final release from the heavier notes.

So, thus far I have generally been descriptive – it is an unusual beer so I thought it deserved a bit more of an examination of what it before I dive into how well it worked. It is pretty good actually. There your mind is set at rest now. It is very specific in what it does – with the unsweetened rhubarb and spice it has limited crowd it will appeal to, but the beer is well textured with the cream hint giving some weight, has very big flavour layered over that and reins in the elements just enough that it does not feel harsh despite the big ginger influence.

So, a beer dedicated to the idea very much, like a rhubarb gose meets a general rhubarb sour that has been rinsed through a ginger patch. Very earthy, very robust – a work a try definitely for rhubarb fans, but definitely not an everyday beer.

Background: I bought this because it has rhubarb in it. That simple. I used to try and get most, if not all of the Wild Beer Co brews that come out, as I love their experimentation, even if they don’t always hit the mark. However the glut of high quality beers out recently from many different breweries meant I have had to cut back on that recently. I grabbed this though. Because rhubarb. It is made with **quick glance at the bottle** wheat, oats, brown sugar, forced rhubarb, tonka beans and stem root ginger. Fair chunk of stuff there. A quick google tells me forced rhubarb is rhubarb grown away from light to encourage it to grow. Which I never knew. Grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to a mix of History Of Guns tracks. Big fan of HOG, from their more electronic really grimy downbeat tracks, to their angrier guitar work, to the just plain weird stuff they turn out.

Advertisements

3 Fonteinen: Hommage (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Dark cherry red. Hazy. Thin white dash of a head.

Nose: Light horse blankets. Oats. Light acidic apple. White wine. Black cherry and red cherry mix. Mashed raspberries. Sherry. Cake sponge.

Body: Tart. Tomatoes. Oats. Lightly bready. Raspberries. Cakes sponge. Tart cider. Sour white grapes. Sour cherry. Sour pear. Greenery.

Finish: Tomatoes. Yellow raspberries. Cucumber. Tart air. Bitter dustiness. Raspberry. Cherry. Twigs. Oats. Sour cherry sweets. Dried raisins. Smoke. White wine.

Conclusion: Ok, something causes me to taste a tomato like character in specific lambics – I say that as it happened to me again with this one. I am starting to develop a hypothesis that it is the interaction of the sour cherry with the lambic base that causes it – as it seems to come only with beers that specifically use sour cherries. I could be wrong though, will keep an eye on it.

So, yeah this has that tomato set of notes that I don’t really find pleasant. Thankfully they are far less evident here than in previous beers I have encountered them in, so it doesn’t impact the beer too much, but it is still there.

Aside for that the base of this beer is lightly acidic, not too heavily so, instead leaning more towards a kind of cloying sourness that meshes with the tomato notes – A thick, oat, muesli and raisins kind of character, heading out into a dusty, slightly smokey bitterness in the finish

The beer is surprisingly savoury – coming into the tart raspberry and grape notes much later on that you would expect – then ending up in a light, dry white wine character that comes out. So you have a lot of savoury, backed with light tartness with a thick savoury-sour and thick, slightly musty feel to the character.

As time goes on the tomato notes recede allowing a more tart, sour cherry flavour coming out in a kind of sour sweets kind of way – it is much better here, and more full bodied, still over that more savoury than usual base though.

It is interesting, and the range of characteristics as it goes from cool to warm is very large, but I can’t overly say I like it. It feels cloying and considering the cost this goes for I really can’t recommend it for just finding it interesting. An unusual lambic, but unfortunately kind of sub average for enjoyment.

Conclusion: OK, this was bloody expensive, so I had to think hard and do a bit of research into it before finally grabbing it from Independent Spirit – it is a lambic made in memory of Gaston Debelder , the foudner of 3 Fonteinen and is made with 30% raspberries and 5% sour cherries. Sounded interesting, and had bloody good rep online, so I decided to shell out the cash for it. Continuing my attempts to put on awesome music for beer, I put on the indie pop joy that is Grimes – Visions – an utter burst of bright joy in music.

Mikkeller: Raspberry Trippelbock (Denmark: Fruit Dopplebock: 13% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown. Thin brown head.

Nose: Boozy raspberry – tart with sweet edges. Raspberry syrup. Dried banana. Creamy, boozy chocolate. Raspberry pips. Gooseberry.

Body: Raisins. Raspberry ice cream syrup. Tart, fresh raspberries. Chewy caramel. Malt chocolate. Hop oils and oily bitterness. Nutty. Dates.

Finish: Strawberry syrup. Red cherries. Tart raspberries. Chocolate bourbon biscuits. Hop oils. Oily bitterness. Slightly nutty. Treacle.

Conclusion: This is another super thick beer – treacle, chewy caramel – lots of boozy sweet characteristics. There is no alcohol burn to it, not even heat, just a syrupy thick weight that tastes alcohol strong. The flavour is just solidly sweet – a hair’s breadth away from being sickly. The beer is utterly reliant on the raspberry to make it a beer that actually works, as without it this would be a sugary disaster.

The raspberry is big and very prominent – there are tart, fresh elements to it, but a lot of the raspberry character has been co-opted by the sweet, thick malt. Thus what you get is an ice cream syrup styled set of raspberry to cherry notes. So, you do get that much needed fresh element, but mostly it doubles down on the the thick, thick sweet notes, just now in a raspberry style.

Now, there is an attempt at contrast – a thick, oily bitterness that comes in like a mix of nut and hop oils. It is an intense oily character, but rather than contrasting it feels like it adds to the thick boozy character.

Now, I wont lie, I’m having fun with this but it is simple as hell and boozy as hell. It is far too thick, too boozy and too sweet. Fun, depending on your tastes, and impressive in how it avoids rough edges despite that alcohol, but not one I can, in general recommend.

Background: Mikkeller! Love the brews from this lot – the so called “Gypsy brewers” who are probably the best known of the large number of brewers that rely on contract brewing to make their recipes. This one, a tripplebock made with raspberries has a pretty good rep all round, and is one I never quite got around to grabbing. So, when independent spirit got both the raspberry trippelbock, and the barrel aged Quadrupel made with raspberries, I grabbed one of each and prepared for some heavy, boozy times. Interesting fact – the quad is also 13% abv, partially because quads are a Belgian style and bocks a German style so they don’t have to line up – partially because the whole double, tripel, etc really never works as an actual multiplier on the alcohol if you ever think about it. Anyway, drunk while listening to New Model Army’s live album – love NMA and I really feel they should be better known in and out of the punk scene.

Beavertown: Other Half: Dead and Berried (England: Fruit Pale Ale: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy strawberry juice red. A moderate red to white bubbled head.

Nose: Oats. Flour. White bread. Mild raspberry yogurt. Light smoke.

Body: White bread. Milky. Bread pudding. Pepper. Tart raspberry. Light gooseberry. Light smoke. Blueberry. Green leaves. Slightly dry. Light strawberry.

Finish: Milk. Raspberry including the pips. Gooseberry. Flour. Brown bread. Slight peppery. Greenery and mint. Light bitterness.

Conclusion: This feels good, though I’m having a hard time pinning down what it does different to other, similar, beers that makes it so much more satisfying.

Let’s see – it is pretty to the eye – strawberry smoothie styled – but that great visual experience is pretty common to fruit beers.

So what is it then? The slight, but not excessive dryness of the body, matched with light peppery character? Two elements that contrast the tart raspberry notes and so makes it really “pop” while keeping a dry crisp ease of drinking?

Is it the tart, yet natural feeling fruit character? No artificial feeling sweet notes and matched by a bevy of other fruit notes to back it up, giving a refreshing, fruit cooler feeling, mouth refreshing Style? Could well be.

Or could it be the low level but present hop bitterness that draws a line under the whole experience? That definitely helps. Everything together makes for a dry base that uses the spice notes that come with it to make a refined and complex enough fruit beer to stand out. If it wasn’t so strong I would call it a summer refresher, but it is a few points too high abv for that – as is it is a fruit beer with a crisp hop base, that stands out from the crowd.

Background: Described as a German Style Raspberry Pale by the brewery – which certainly is a set of words I did not expect to see together, this is a collab beer made with German ale yeast, Citra hops and, well, raspberries. Don’t know much about Other Half, but Beavertown have been consistently good recently. Grabbed from Independent Spirit (That is a phrase I have not used much on the last month!) this was drunk while listening to Heavens To Betsy: Calculated. A whole bunch of the riotgrrrl music stuff feels worrying appropriate again in 2017.

Rodenbach: Alexander (Belgium: Fruit Sour Brown: 5.6% ABV)

Visual: Clear black cherry red with off white head.

Nose: Red cherries. Tart. Gummed brown paper. Apple cider and pear perry air. Malt chocolate.

Body: Tart. Red cherries. Strawberry ice cream syrup. Cherry-aid. Fizzy. Morello cherries. Slight burn at back of throat.

Finish: Gummed brown paper. Cherry-aid. Strawberry ice cream syrup and raspberry ripple ice cream. Pears.

Conclusion: Ok, a few things off my chest first. This is very smooth for an aged Rodenbach – Maybe it is because I am mentally comparing it to the harsh, acidic, almost vinegar touched thing that is the Grand Cru, but I was expecting something much harsher in that vein, with accompanying complexity as a trade off.

This walks a different path, tending towards a cherry laden interpretation of the standard Rodenbach release – sweet, but slightly tart – with that very familiar gummed brown paper kind of note to it.

The beer is still slightly burning at the back of the throat in a call to the Grand Cru style, still slightly cider touched in acidity, though here with some perry notes as well. So, slightly sour and acidic but generally comparatively mellow in how it deals with those acidic notes.

The cherries are delivered in a harder to explain way. Initial impressions are of an artificial feeling mixing glacier cherries, ice cream syrup, raspberry ripple and cherry-aid. It is not unpleasant but isn’t what I expected – pretty sweet, in a dessert style but kind of cheap artificial feeling dessert. Thankfully it develops far from that – gaining a distinct juicy, kind of morello tart cherry depth. That is what helps make the beer – it makes it feel much more natural, and much more complex. It gives and juicy and sweet core that really cuts through the more artificial notes.

So, smoother than expected, just using just a little backing of that burn and weight familiar to Grand Cru fans. More artificial than expected but with a genuine quality core. Not what I expected then, more gentle, more fruity, and more easy drinking – Well vaguely more easy drinking, still not for people who aren’t looking for acidity or sourness. Ends up a very well done fruit ale with more depth than the short set of notes would suggest.

So very glad I managed to hunt this down.

Background: I have been waiting to get my hands on this one for oh so long! It is one of Michael Jackson’s listed 500 great beers, and has not been made for many a year now, until, finally it popped up again roughly a year ago. This was the first time I managed to find it in person, at my ever reliable booze supplier Independent Spirit. I broke it open while listening a bunch of tunes Warren Ellis curated together many a year ago to match the amount of time I have been waiting to try this. Makes sense to me.

De Cam: Wilde Bosbessen (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Very deep, cloudy black-cherry red. Moderate burgundy fizzy head.

Nose: Massive horse blankets. Some sulphur. Brown bread. Pungent dark berries. Oats. Black-cherry. Smoked cheese. Smoked meat.

Body: Acidic. Smoked salami. Blueberry. Apples to cider. Smoked cheese. Brown bread.

Finish: Black-cherry. Cider. White wine. Red cherries. Slight yogurt. Smoke. Gooseberry.

Conclusion: Where to start on this one? From the first moment you could sense the aroma sloughing off from the body and seeping over the edge of the glass. From the first moment I smelled this, I knew it was going to be something different.

A lot of fruit lambics seem to trade off some of the base lambic character when giving the fruit full rein – but this one overflows with huge horse-blankets character, sulphur and smoked cheese. The last one is what really made me pay attention. The beer really ramps up the funk and throughout the whole beer it delivered smoked meat and cheese notes amongst the more the common tarter cider apples like notes. It pushed this big wet hair meets brown bread aroma. Which again is something I say as a good thing despite how horrid those words may seem.

So, yeah that base brings funk and depth, but what about the berries? You may think that since I am concentrating on the smoke, meat and cheese that the funky character brings, that the berries are taking a back seat? Nope. There is a real deep, muggy, thick dark berry character here -working from sweeter blueberry, heavy black-cherry to slightly soured berry notes.

You end up with such a complex lambic as the two sides combine – so muggy, thick and musty – yet in a good way. It takes a mix of flavours that normally clash and mix them together for a complex beer, underlined with white wine like notes and dryness that make it all just that touch easier to drink and makes for a genius drink.

Great. Just amazing.

Background: A mildly odd, but not unheard of fruit for a lambic time this time – wild blueberries. After De Cam’s last different fruit choice worked out pretty well I decided it was worth giving this a go as well. 40KG of fruit is added per 100 litres of young lambic. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit – their new beer selection is going from strength to strength – I keep seeing beers I mean to pick up later, but by the next week there are more news arrivals I want. Drunk while listening to a mix of Mclusky and their spin off band Future Of The Left, after they were recommended to me – odd, energetic cool stuff. Will have to listen more.


Tilquin : Oude Quetsche Tilquin a L’ancienne (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 6.4% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy ruddy red to dried apricot. Small white bubbled rim for a head.

Nose: Black-cherry. Floral. Vanilla. Plums. Cherry blossoms. Dried apricot. Lightly tart apples. Horse blankets.

Body: Light mouthfeel. Brown bread. Tart apples. Moderate acidic character. Dried apricot. Strawberry. Sour plums. Dry Madeira. Light tayberry. Tannins. Lemon. Marzipan. Dry spice.

Finish: Tart apples. Dried apricot. Charred oak. Prunes. Lots of tannins. Dry sherry. Dried raisins. Plums. Acidic dryness. White wine. Raspberry. Strawberry.

Conclusion: I often find it odd how fruit lambics – while usually fruity as hell – often don’t taste massively of the fruit used to make them, instead emphasising what to seems to be a random other range of notes.

This, for example, is made with plums. It does have some plum notes, but more than that it gets interactions with the lambic to have it come across more as dry raisins and dry sherry like notes.

More normal is the base, with acidic apple and lemon notes working in a tart and moderately acidic base – not super mellow, not super sweet, dry or harsh. It feels very manageable, but still a distinctly tart lambic. It emphasises more a large amount of tannins, especially late on, giving a good amount of weight and grounded character to the body behind the freshness.

What is most unusual to encounter is the middle ground between the dark fruit and the fresh lambic – this is where the largest range of fruitiness comes out. They both merge to bring out very fresh raspberry to tayberry notes, some fresh strawberries and grounded dried apricot. This is what I tend to call the almost holographic flavours brought on by the mix of the base flavours and the acidity, and make up the front half of the beer; The initial impressions before the darker fruit of raisins and plums come in, which initially are in the latter half to the finish of the beer. Over time though the darker fruit rises, and come to take centre stage from sipping onwards as the flavours build up – closer to what you would expect from the chosen fruit.

I can see from this why plum isn’t the most commonly used fruit, not up there with cherry and raspberry, but it still does pretty darn well for itself. The base lambic is pretty darn good, and the plums take it to darker dry fruit notes in an unusual fashion – generally darker fruit I have seen used go in a sweeter direction. This feels closer to red wine sour influences, though you do get sweet almonds to marzipan late on to add a touch of sweetness to it.

This is almost a sherry lambic to my mind, with the dark fruit getting more notable the longer you spend with it. Definitely earns its spot as something different in the lambic league.

Background: This is the 2016/2017 batch of the beer – a lambic made with one and two year lambics, fresh plums and refermented in the bottle for three months. So, an unusual fruit choice which made me really want to try it. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this was a big beer, so I put on some Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes – heavy duty punk yo go with it.

Hanssens: Oudbeitje (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 6% ABV)

Visual: Clear and still, with a gold to apricot skin colour.

Nose: Strawberry in a creamy fashion. Rose wine. Vanilla. White grapes. Acidic apple. Horse blankets and oats.

Body: Very tart. Oats. Mild strawberry. Dry cider. Acidic at the back of the throat. Slight nail polish imagery.

Finish: Strawberry. White wine. Lemon juice. Dry cider. Fresh apples. Slight vinegar. Tart raspberry. Slight nail polish air. Rose wine.

Conclusion: Ok, strawberries in a lambic – I was expecting this to be pretty unusual, so was excited going in. The excitement continued as I popped the cork out – there was lovely creamy strawberry aroma, matched with the tart rose wine character from the base lambic. It looked like this was going to be a brilliant balance of the lambic and the fruit.

What did surprise me at this early stage was how little colour the fruit seemed to add to the beer. It was possibly a little darker than the standard lambic, but not where near as bright or as colourful as the usual fruit lambics.

The initial flavours are promising – with slight strawberry into tart raspberry notes alongside a dry cider style lambic character. It is harsh at the back of the throat, but otherwise a good start.

Unfortunately over time a thicker, slightly unpleasant character emerges. The best way I can describe it is akin to breathing in the fumes of wood or nail polish. It’s thick, kind of gas fume like and far from pleasant. As time goes on even more this element gets heavier and heavier. This one element very much hurts the rest of the beer, and even made it feel like a chore to finish the last quarter of the beer.

So, a nice start, with promise, but by the end it was genuinely a bad experience. Maybe strawberries are not generally used in lambcis for a reason then. A pity as it showed such promise to begin with.

Background: Been looking for this one for a while – I hear about it in a 100 Belgian Beers To Try Before You Die, and it seemed interesting. A lambic made with the unusual choice of strawberries for the fruit choice. After many years of looking I finally found this in Manchester in the very well stocked Beermoth. Friendly staff as well, had a nice chat about lambics in there. I had hoped to go back to grab more beers, but time did not permit. Drunk while listening to Svalbard again – had just grabbed their Gone Tomorrow album off bandcamp.

Omnipollo: Buxton: Original Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Pie (England: Fruit Beer: 6% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice look with a thin white head.

Nose: Freshly squeezed lemon and traditional lemonade. Meringue. Milk touch. Apples. Squeezed lime.

Body: Tart lemon juice and lemon curd. Apple pie. Sugar dusting. Very fresh. Thick texture under the sharp front. Cream. Lime cordial. Tart grapes.

Finish: Lemon juice and pancakes. Squeezed lime. Peach and vanilla. Cream. Toffee ice cream syrup.

Conclusion: This is fresh, very fresh – lemony as all get out – yet despite that it is not overly acidic, nor sour as you would often expect with that fresh kind of lemon flavour. It is actually sweet, while still keeping that freshness and surprisingly creamy under the sharper front.

Not that lemon is the only note here – there is plenty of tart lime elements, and even a few sweeter fruit notes such as peach and apple. However, lemon definitely dominates, with lime as a close second. Anything else is way down the intensity list.

It is decent -fresh faced and pretty easy to drink. Not quite lemon meringue for me, nor quite ice cream – but there are enough calls to it that I can see why they picked the name. It is creamy, and as mentioned, very much lemon.

It isn’t the most complex thing though – shoot, barring the thick mouthfeel I would understand mistaking this thing for fruit juice. Alcoholic fruit juice admittedly – they don’t 100% hide that alcohol, but still fruit juice.

So, aye, super complex it ain’t. One for examining it ain’t. For something easy going, easy drinking and refreshing – sure! It is sweet, creamy and fresh – hits a lot of the instant satisfaction buttons there. So an immediately satisfying, tasty and fun beer – but with no depth under the surface. Good for a warm day, good for when you want to enjoy a beer but not get too deep into it.

Background: Ok, this is actually a beer that was conditioned with lemon juice. Huh, did not realise that – the bottle ingredients only list barley, wheat, oats and lactose – so I was surprised to find it listed as a fruit beer. Guess it explains how they nailed the lemon flavour so well. Anyway, I grabbed one of the ice cream series (easily recognisable by the walking poo on the bottle) tail end last year – so when I saw this one back in Independent Spirit it had to give it a go. Both Omnipollo and Buxton are rock solid breweries in my eyes, so a good background to this one. This was drunk while listening to Ritualz CDR. A haunting weird set of electronica I have not broken out for a while.

Cloudwater: Against The Grain: Make Apple Pie Great Again (England: Fruit: 6.3% ABV)

Visual: Very cloudy caramel brown to cloudy apple juice. Very large off white head.

Nose: Cinnamon and apples .. ok, basically apple pie with fresh apples and buttery pastry. Danish pastry.

Body: Apples and cinnamon. Ground ginger. Pastry. Peppery and some white pepper. Dried apricot.

Finish: Vanilla. Apples. Cinnamon. Lightly bready. Light bitterness. White pepper. Light cloves and sugar dusting.

Conclusion: Ok, I think I’ve mentioned before that apple seems to be a hard ingredient to use correctly in a beer. They tend to have too little effect, or end up artificially sweet, or such issues as that.

So, in case you were wondering – yep! This makes apple pie (In a beer) great (Again? For the first time?). Anyway, I think what makes this work is the spice they add which does a lot of heavy lifting for the beer. The cinnamon and ginger notes are well used here, and of course are so closely mentally linked with apple pie that it really makes that core apple flavour seem much more significant than the intensity would otherwise manage. Also that spice grounding means that the apple and accompanying vanilla and pastry notes don’t come across sickly sweet. This all feels very well planned.

I feel like they looked at all the cinnamon and clove influenced Christmas beer and used what was learned from them as a base to work from to make this. It really has that vibe. But with apple pies. Then again, maybe they didn’t – I don’t know how they brewed it, that is just the impression got from the beer itself.

Now you could call this a one trick pony – but that would be somewhat unfair. For one it delivers its concept spot on, and that is what they are selling this beer as. So criticising it for doing its job feel slightly unfair, even if that was true. As a second point, it manages to still feel beer like under the apple pie styling, albeit in the aforementioned Christmas beer style. Finally the spice also brings in some more unusual elements with peppery character mixing well with the hop bitterness to give a bit more edge to that aspect.

Overall, good concept, good learning from beer history, good beer that makes apple pies great!

Background: Ok, this one I am fairly sure is a piss take of Donald Trump. Then again I have been wrong before, so I will just say Donald Trump is an incompetent man child shit who sucks up to fascists. Anyway, this is a beer made with apple puree, apple juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and muscovado sugar. Drunk while listening to Evil Scarecrow: Galactic Hunt – love the over the top fun and pop culture referencing metal of these lot. This beer was grabbed from Independent Spirit. Yes, again.

%d bloggers like this: