Tag Archive: Fruit


Vandenbroek: Brut Nebbiolo (Netherlands: Fruit lambic: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Reddened orange to a rose wine, or onion skin. Lots of tiny bubbled carbonation. Thin dash of a white head.

Nose: Dry white grapes. Cake sponge. Spicy red wine. Chill seeds and paprika. Vanilla touch. Wet oak. Strawberry as it warms. Menthol. Red onions touch.

Body: Dry white wine front. Wet oak. Mashed cherries. Mossy dark touch. Charring. Light chalk. Tart grapes. Strawberry. Vanilla yogurt. Red onion.

Finish: Black cherry yogurt. Dry white wine. Black pepper. Wet oak. Red onion. Mashed cherries. Lemon curd.

Conclusion: While not up to the standards of the amazing Watergeus that the same brewery turns out, this is still another rewarding and complex lambic from Vandenbroek.

I really have to stop summing stuff up in the first line, I need to give you lot a reason to read further.

On the eye this reminds me of the much praised Cantillon: Rose De Gambrinus, even though the load out of fruit used to make it is very different. Admittedly I am saying that from memory, so feel free to point out if I am full of shit. It had that reddened kind of onion skin to rose wine colour that really catches the eye and gives a great first impression.

The aroma is fairly standard dry lambic, though with a bit more spiciness in this take. Warming lets more notes slowly come out, giving a more rounded character.

The body is where the main play comes out. It is very dry white wine feeling. The darker fruit seems to wait and subtly come out in sweeter ways in the middle of the beer. The fruit is rich, with cherry to black cherry like notes coming out, and strawberry hints around the edges. There are tart grape notes, but they work into the main body of the dry lambic character easily, reinforcing rather than contrasting it.

There is even, oddly matching the visual, a kind of sharp red onion style character – especially in the finish where it gives a quiet savoury underline to the finish. Also, I mean this as a complement, it is really odd what flavours actually work in a lambic where you would hate them elsewhere.

As you can see from the main notes, there is a lot to examine – from lemon curd thickness to peppery spice and fresh menthol air, but I’ve tried to cover the main prominent themes here. The rest are just extra sparks of flair.

A lot going on, a lot worth examining, another great Vandenbroek.

Background: Vandenbroek! From the Netherlands, not Belgium. I may have, erm, made that mistake last time and had it pointed out to me. Many thanks! Serves me right for half arsing research. Especially as it turns out it is a place name. Anyway, always good to admit you are fallible. Still, been adoring their lambics, so decided to grab this one for giving a go. This is made with fermented grape must, with the peel and grape pips remaining in the beer for up to 10 months – duplicating a traditional wine making technique. Since lambics are already the most wine like of beers, this is an interesting take. The abv on the bottle may be saying 6.0 or 6.8%, a quick google suggests 6.8 so that is the one I went with. This is another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. They have a decent range of Vandenbroek and a huge range of sours in general, which makes it very easy to dabble with this style. Music wise I went back to IDLES: Joy As An Act Of Resistance to listen to. Ultra Mono is good, but that is IDLES best in my opinion – and that mix of anger and emotional vulnerability still kicks, especially in the current world situation.

Connecticut Valley: Nothing By Chance (USA: Fruit: 15% ABV)

Visual: Hazy reddish brown. Hind of hazy apple juice like colour. Thin off white head.

Nose: Honey. Glazed apple Danish. Liquorice touch. Boozy. Cut apples. Brown sugar.

Body: Apple pie filling. Honey. Golden syrup. Brown sugar. Boozy. Slight dry oak. Blended whisky. Vanilla.

Finish: Warming treacle air. Liquorice. Brown bread. Apple pies.

Conclusion: Ok, apple beers, be it straight apple, apple pie dessert stouts, or just ditched into other beers, have always appealed to me as an idea, but they have not had the greatest history of actually, well, working.

So, how does this one do?

Pretty well. I mean, it is boozy as fuck, but at 15% abv I kind of expected that already. It makes the entire beer unsubtle as hell, but here, I kind of dig that.

There is a very apple pie to sugar glazed apple Danish kind of style to this, but with a bit of dry oak touch and sweet vanilla from the barrel ageing that adds high and low notes to the whole experience.

The high booze and sweetness gives occasional real thick and sugary golden syrup, but more generally a more manageable honey hazy hovers over the whole thing. Thankfully the dryer oak notes work very well as occasional release, and match with the savoury liquorice notes which offer a haven in which you can prepare yourself before the next sweet burst. Often I find liquorice notes don’t work in a beer, but here they feel very necessary as a grounding element and are pleasing in themselves.

Overall it is simple, boozy and sweet – with the barrel ageing feeling like it is responsible for 90% of any of the complexity you actually get, but ya know what?

It does apple well. That is rare. It still manages to feel beer like under that and shows heavily but is not dominated by the barrel ageing. That is a nice wee set to hit.

Rough and simple, but despite that I really dig it.

Background: Saw that Bottles and Books over in Bristol had some very tasty beers in, lot of Imperial Stouts especially, so I treated myself and put an order in from them. Very helpful staff there as well, helping me sort a mistake I did with the order. Anyway this, not an Imperial Stout, is one of the beers I ordered from them. What it is is a very high abv apple ale that has been aged in bourbon casks. Now, my experience with apple beers has been mixed to say the least, but I am eternally hopeful that one of them will wow me, and this was different enough that I thought it may be the one to do so. Had recently stayed up to watch the Undertale Fifth House Ensemble concert livestream on twitch, so listened to the Undertale Live music while drinking. Yes I am a big Undertale nerd. I love it.

Vault City: Dark Fruits Bakewell Sour (Scotland: Fruit Sour: 7% ABV)

Visual: Thick, opaque dark purple to black cherry body. A creamier, lighter black cherry inch of head that leaves sud clumps.

Nose: Creamy black cherry to black cherry yogurt. Tart apple and tart black cherry. Brambles. Menthol creamy touch. Wet twigs. Tart grapes.

Body: Tart yet sweet red grapes over tart white wine. Vermouth. Menthol. Wet twigs. Almond rounds. Burnt cake sponge. Vanilla.

Finish: Pineapple sours. Black cherry yogurt. Light creamy touch. Tart white grapes. Apple. Sour black cherry. Tiny aniseed. Bitter peppery notes.

Conclusion: This is a rewarding and wine ranging beer – far from the simple sweeter sour I was expecting from the bakewell part of the name. In case it is not clear I mean that as a good thing.

Initial notes on the nose are all black cherry – ranging from initial sweeter notes, that soon descend into tarter notes. Very fruity with hints of wet twigs and the like in a very natural way.

The body pushes the sweetness to the side, with hints of vanilla and almond notes but they are only little grace notes over a tart dark fruit body. Under that is white wine flavour and dryness underlying it. There are darker, heavier notes at the core – still very naturally delivered and with lots of fruit to reward you. It is only wine like in the underlying notes and makes a nice contrast to the more natural fruit.

The finish is where real distinct white wine character starts to develop. It is still dark fruit touched but drier, with peppery and slightly bitter notes coming out amongst the twigs. A harsher underline to the whole beer but not unwelcome. Something that really helps show beery bitterness amongst the still unusual sour notes.

Quite thick in mouthfeel, yet refreshing from the dryness. Sweet edges but tart souled. Lots of fruit, and definitely sour while still being recognisably beer. I’m very impressed by this rewarding fruit sour experience.

Background: So, Vault city have been turning out unusual yet good quality beers for a bit now. While I have found myself getting a tad weary of gimmick beers recently, these tended to feel like solid beers that happened to have odd flavours and ingredients rather than just feeling gimmicky. Even though a bakewell sour is undeniably gimmicky. As does the Iron Bru beer I had that I tried from them. They still felt beer like. Which was nice. Anyway, so yeah a dark fruit bakewell inspired sour. From Vault City. Yep I’m in. One of the last beers I got from Independent Spirit before lockdown of doom hit the UK. Trying to keep my stash going as long as poss. Went with Nine Inch Nail’s two new free albums while drinking this. No lyrics, but wonderfully moody.

Lervig: Shiga Kogen: Yuzu Raga (Norway: Fruit Lager: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain to yellow. Clear body with a good sized off white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Tart lemon to jiff lemon. Tart grapefruit. Yuzu? Fresh. Yellow raspberry. Lightly yeastie.

Body: Lemon curd. Yellow raspberry. Yuzu? Flour touch. Palma violets.

Finish: Lemon curd. Tart lemon. Yuzu? Tart grapes. Clean sheen feel. Touch of bitterness and hop oils. Flour. Lightly gritty bitterness. Peppery.

Conclusion:Soooooo. Have I ever eaten Yuzu? I honestly can’t remember. I know I have had a variety of Yuzu based and infused drinks. Deffo had them. I just cant remember if I have ever had the thing itself.

Anyway, the tart fruit character is very up front here. Very fresh, mixing lemon, grapefruit and yellow raspberry like notes. Or probably just tastes like yuzu and I would know that if I could remember trying it.

Probably.

The lager styling beneath the fruit is clean, with a slight hop oil sheen. It has a good, slick texture and slight noble hop feeling palma violet notes. The mouthfeel is slightly bohemian pilsner like, but generally the lager is only here as a mouthfeel, the yuzu is here as the flavour.

Because of that it is kind of simple, but refreshing and smooth. One point of note it it uses a slightly gritty, and initially light bitterness. It rises to moderate bitterness, though restrained in mid body and builds to a nice kick in the finish.

It is a simple 1-2-3 punch. Good texture, good fruit usage, good underlining bitterness. Simple. Refreshing, exactly what it says on the tin. Hints of Bohemian pilsner, but with tart fruit and light bitterness.

May not be world shaking but bloody drinkable. I am happy with it.

Background: Shiga Kogen, been a while since I had anything from them. Tried a good chunk of theirs during my visits to Japan. Mixed bag, some great stuff, some average. Lervig on the other hand tend to be spot on. Anyway I’m guessing Raga is the Japanese spelling of lager when adapted to their katakana alphabet, what with this being a lager and all. Yuzu is tart citrus fruit. I may or may not have tried it. My memory is fucked. Another beer from Independent Spirit. Went with Ritualz – CDR for music. Wonderfully weird and haunting music.

Vault City: Strawberry Skies (Scotland: Fruit: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy, with a bright strawberry red colour. Short lived white dash of a head.

Nose: Very fresh strawberry to strawberry yogurt. Lightly tart. Fresh apples. Mild use of hibiscus. Fresh white grapes. Melon.

Body: Strawberry. Light cream. Lightly acidic. Melon and apple. Fresh white grapes. Mild herbal notes.

Finish: Lemon cream. Strawberry yogurt. Melon and apple. An air of light hibiscus. Light cream. Vanilla. Banana.

Conclusion: Hibiscus usage in a beer that I don’t hate! Wooo! Finally! I think the thing that makes it work here, where is so often doesn’t elsewhere, is that it is used as a gentle backing note. It adds spice to an otherwise sweet beer – it has a definite goal to its use and achieves that. It isn’t the main event. Everyone who is ever thinking about making a beer with Hibiscus in it, pay note please.

So, with that out of the way … Strawberries, eh?

There is such very clean and fresh strawberry style on the nose. The beer is bright red on the eye, giving a wonderful visual experience even before you get into drinking it. The first impressions for this are spot on.

Sipping brings a more balances experience. Strawberries over a gently acidic and sour base – the freshness comes across more like fresh grapes than a sour lambic. It is helped by a slightly creamy mouthfeel than makes for a thicker feel and sweetness than you would normally get in a sour. Added into that a lovely sweet melon and apple notes well expressed makes for something that is recognisable as a (just about) sour beer, but very much towards the fruitier side of things.

The finish is the biggest surprise. Fresh and sweet but with sweet vanilla and banana notes making this quite dessert like over the creamier touch.

Through it all it is a fresh thing. Those cut apple, grapes and melon all keeping it feeling just fresh enough not to be sickly. It is not a heavy element, but it sticks around as a fresh note as the strawberry fades away, keeping the beer feeling clean, with the (and yes we are back to this) hibiscus as a spicy grounding and underlying of the whole experience.

Fresh, just savoury enough, fantastic use of strawberry with dessert like thickness from the vanilla and higher abv. An utterly awesome fruit beer. If you like strawberry, and fruit in general – grab it.

Background: I like strawberries. Rarely seem to work well in a beer for some reason. So, when I saw this strawberry sour from a brewery I had not tried before, I shrugged my shoulders and figured “What the heck, I’ll take the risk. So here we are. Also, I note after buying it also uses hibiscus which I, so far, have not had good experiences with in beers, so this was more of a risk than I thought. Also includes vanilla, which I have only encountered in a few sours, but seems to be a positive when I do encounter it. Not much else to add. Grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to the Rotten Citizens Vol 1 EP – a mix of nicely dark sounding electronic tracks.

Boon: Oude Schaarbeekse Kriek Boon 2018 (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 6% ABV)

Visual: Dark black cherry red with a cherry-aid coloured inch of tight bubbled head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Smooth cherry. Black cherry yogurt. Light acidic apple. Pencil shavings. Brambles.

Body: Acidic and tart. Slight charred oak. Tart cherries. Tart apple. Dry white wine. Slight yeast funk. Slight peperami. Cherry jelly tarts. Dry cheesecake late on.

Finish: Tart red and black cherries. Gooseberry. Twigs. Puff crisps. Strawberries. Slight charring. Tiny amounts of marshmallows.

Conclusion: Most of the fruity Boon lambics I’ve encountered have leaned more towards the sweeter takes on the style, admittedly with one very notable exception. This definitely leans the other way – dry as can be at the base, which gives the moderate sweetness of the fruit influence a lot more punch.

While we are on the subject of the fruit, this is remarkably well developed in the fruit expression. From a tarter, slight sweet dessert style cherries, to black cherry yogurt style, to tarter notes that give an almost gooseberry tartness to the finish.

Despite the beer being dry, the sourness is restrained, coming across more as dry white wine (infused with red fruit natch) than, say, Cantillon level mouth puckering.

It really is a treat – there’s even a few rounding notes to add a few edges to it – mild oak influence and slight yeast funk. Beyond that there are some odd, possibly hallucinatory notes brought on by the acidity, but I’m listing them anyway – tiny sweet marshmallow notes in the finish and tiny pepperami meaty solid note to the middle. Again these could just be due to my sense being confused by the acidic character as I have seen before with similar beers. Besides those it is generally a dry wine like lambic base and well expressed cherry fruit.

Very dry, just sweet enough. Very fruity and subtly funky. Do you like lambics? Do you like tart cherry? Then I would highly recommend this. So easy to drink and so rewarding.

Background: Schaarbeekse Kriek! A very rare kind of cherry, which I have encountered once before in Drie Fonteinen’s take on a Schaerbeekse Kriek. That one really caught my attention, back when I was still getting used to lambics, so a chance to try a different interpretation from Boon was definitely a must have. Another one found at Independent Spirit – they recently got in a huge batch of sours and lambics. Went simple for music with this one – Metallica; Master Of Puppets. Metal. It goes with anything.

BioNoc’: Asso Di Coppe Impombera (Italy: Sour Ale: 6% ABV)

Visual: Deep black cherry red. Clear body. Thin dash of a reddened head. Small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Cherries. Tart raspberry. Clean. Light twigs. Tart. Blueberry.

Body: Dry. Tannins. Brown bread. Yellow raspberries. Black cherry and red cherry. White wine. Gooseberry.

Finish: Full and tart raspberries. Astringent. Light wood shavings. Gooseberry. Yellow raspberry. Jammy blueberry.

Conclusion: This is dry, almost wine like and matched with a very fruity take on a red wine in how it uses the berries, matched against a crisp, kind of lambic like take on a sour base character. Initially the beer is slightly closed, but as you get used to the dryness it really opens up into a range of tart fruit. Until that though, well it isn’t Cantillon level mouth puckering but it is very well attenuated.

The fruit pushes the raspberry tartness up front, with a darker set of black cherry like fruit notes and such making for a sweet but still refreshingly tart backing note. Time lets a more jammy sweetness come out, making fuller notes that had been hinted at before. The aroma especially hinted at sweeter notes that only really develop in the body later on.

This is very good, initially dry and wine like, later on full bodied and, erm, wine like but a different kind of wine. Always fruity giving a good range of fruit notes from raspberry, through puckering gooseberry and into sweeter cherries. Only slightly closed a for a short while, and for the rest progressing in delicious and fascinating ways.

Very much worth getting your hands on, this is a treat of a fruit sour.

Background: Second and final bottle that I brought back from the Arrogant Sour Beer Festival at Moor’s Tap Room. This is from a brewery I have not encountered before, but was highly recommended, and looks to have had a few awards so I decided to give it a go. I googled what an Impombera was and ended up very confused. Anyway, by googling the beer I found out it is a raspberry sour, so I presume at least one of the many variants has a raspberry style fruit. Had just picked up Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind so put that on as background music. Had heard it was a return to form and, yeah it is amazing, heavy and brutal. Thought I was slightly going off Slipknot but nope, I am back in.


Bokkereyer (Aka Methode Goat): Framboos Vanille 2018 (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 6% ABV)

Visual: Bright cherry red, with only a thin white rim of bubbles instead of a head.

Nose: Very fresh and very natural smelling raspberries. Toffee and vanilla notes. Soft strawberries. Cream.

Body: Soft mouthfeel. Tart apples. Creamy raspberries. Very fresh and distinctly natural raspberry. Slightly dry. Peach.

Finish: Fruity fresh raspberries. Vanilla. Cream. Tart apples. Very clean. Peach notes. Grapes. Mild tannins. Oak. Oats.

Conclusion: OK, wow, the is fruity. Now that should not be a shock, ir is a Framboos – a raspberry lambic – but I have found that while a lot of Framboos have that tart raspberry character, they often loose a lot of the fresher and sweeter elements of the fruit. None I have encountered have had quite such a full on expression of the full range of the fruit as this has.

It is fresh, mouth-filling and tart, and really expresses the flavours. I think it may be because of the vanilla beans adding a sweetness and creaminess that not just restores oft lost elements of the raspberry, but also works well against the tart apple notes of the lambic base. It makes for something very easy to drink and rich in flavour. From somewhere peach notes come out, combining with the raspberry and creamy to make this almost like a peach melba lambic, and that is just exceptional. (Note: Yes I did double check this isn’t one of the lambics they had that actually had peach in). It keeps the tart flavours, but none of the heavier horse blanket notes you see with a lot of lambics. A touch of tannins, but that is it. A very different and smooth take.

The main call to a more traditional lambic base is in the finish – here it is dry, with some oats, oak and such like. It gives a more recognisable beer and lambic character to something that is a bit away from a traditional take on the style, underlining it and emphasising everything that came before by its contrast.

Wonderfully fresh, fruity but without being fruit juice like. The tart lambic is restrained but still unmistakable – this is possible my favourite of the Framboos I have encountered. The vanilla smooths the edges but does not diminish the quality or complexity.

An exceptional beer.

Background: This is a mix of one, two an three year old lambic with a mix of three types of raspberry and made with Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla beans and bottled January 2019. Before this I had just known Bokkereyer by reputation of quality and their rarity, so reading those words gave me an idea of why this tiny brewery was making such a fuss. There were six different bottles available to try at the Arrogant Sour Beer Festival at the Moor Tap Room, and I quickly decided this one was one I wanted to try. I say Bokkereyer, as that was how they were listed, but a quick google tells me the brewery has changed its name to Methode Goat, though I can’t find why. I’m guessing a big brewer and a trademark court case threat. Anyway, was super excited to try this at the end of the festival, and had tried to pace myself so I could try to do it justice in the notes.

Cantillon: Vigneronne (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 6% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon to peach skin.

Nose: Dried apricot. Old muggy hops. Oats. Dry white wine. Dry in general. Slightly bready and fluffy popcorn. Crusty white bread.

Body: Crusty fresh white bread. Dry, thick hop feel. Dandelion. Sour white grapes. Slight tart apricot. White wine. Oats.

Finish: Flour. Fresh crusty white bread. Dandelions. Soft lemon. Gentle hop like bitterness. White wine.

Conclusion: This is not what I expected from a Cantillon. What I expect from Cantillon is, at the very least a very dry beer, at at the most a mouth puckering sour bomb. This has comparatively restrained sourness, a fluffy, fresh and bready mouthfeel and even some taste, and a .. erm .. kind of dandelion like vegetable character. I’ll get to that last one in a minute to explain more I promise. They are layered in amongst the tart grapes which are more recognisable as traditional elements and against what feels like an old, slightly muggy hop bitterness.

It is still white wine forwards in flavour, dry but not super dry, and it is delicious, it just has a much fuller body than a lot of the super dry Cantillons so I had to take a short while to get my bearings. It is just as rewarding as harsher Cantillons and much more easy going. It feels like a super enjoyable way to introduce people to the brewery without expecting them to jump in head first to the sour dry attack that they often are.

It is a chewable yet tart, like a flour thickened lambic that is very white wine fronted. A lot of you may be put off by my referring to the flour/vegetable notes of dandelion. Please don’t be, basically it is the best way I can get an odd note across. It is like if you drank dandelion and burdock, but without the burdock. If that makes any sense at all. It is that kind of influence here and not an unpleasant one.

A mellow tartness, full on wine flavour, thicker feel take on a Cantillon, and I would say that is very much worth trying. Not as huge range as some others but makes up for it by being much more approachable and easy to get into.

Yeah, I dig it, an easygoing Cantillon that does not compromise to do that.

Background: Another one from the Arrogant Sour Beer festival over at The Moor Tap Room, and this is a rare opportunity these days – A beer I have not previously tried that is both in Michael Jackson’s 500 Great Beers, and the 100 Belgian Beers To try Before You Die book. I tried the low hanging fruit of those books years ago, so this was a nice surprise. Did a quick double check on the abv of this, as most places list it as 5% ABV, but looks like it abv got raised to 6% recently. And by recently that could be any time in the past decade. I lose track of time easily. Also, before anyone points it out, I am aware that most Dandelion and Burdock these days is made with neither of those ingredients, but the analogy is the closest thing I had for identifying a flavour, so please allow me this one.

7Bräu: Dalseo Orange Ale (South Korea: Fruit: 4.2% abv)

Visual: Lightly hazy apple to lemon juice. Thin white dash of a head.

Nose: Orange juice. Rose petals. Brown bread to bready hop character. Slight sulphur.

Body: Brown bread. Savoury orange juice. Bready hops. Lemon. Vanilla. Sweeter orange juice later on.

Finish: Brown bread. Light hop bitterness. Crumpets. Petals. Slight lemon. Grows in earthy bitterness over time.

Conclusion: This is a, erm, gentle, kind of bready beer at the base. Imagine the kind of bready, yeasty character of Orval, but imagine it is nowhere near as complex, just in the same ballpark to give kind of an idea.

The orange character feels fairly savoury at the start, a gentle backing that develops a light sweetness over time. While the bready character is generally dominant it feels like a nice balance for a not too fruit dominated beer – it always feels beer first but never loses the fruit character,

However, with that said, the flavours, while balanced are also quite pedestrian. There is early bitterness, simple orange with a touch of vanilla – it isn’t bad but is overly savoury and doesn’t use much of the wit character which I think is there at the base.

It is ok, kind of dull but drinkable. Without the orange character it would have been an exceptionally dull beer, as it seems to very much lean on that extra ingredient for character. With it, it passes the time nicely but really doesn’t stand out.

Drinkable but not much more than that.

Background: This is a nice treat. My mate, Tony, went over to South Korea a short while back and brought a few of their beers back. He invited me over to his place to try them with him, and was willing to indulge me in me doing tasting notes on two of them. Very many thanks! It is not often you see Korean beers over here so I did not want to miss the chance. Also if the photo looks like it is in a much fancier place than normal that is the reason. This one is, I think, a wit made with orange. I have no skills at reading Korean so I am relying on google or this.

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