Tag Archive: Fruit


Cantillon: Nath 2018 (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy but generally clear body of apricot colour. Moderate off white head. Very little carbonation.

Nose: Horse blankets. Dry white wine. Dry crusty white bread. Tart. Gooseberry. Rhubarb.

Body: Tart. Tart grapes. Elderberry. Tart rhubarb grows over time. Oats. Lightly chalky. Earthy. Lemony.

Finish: Tart rhubarb. Tart white grapes. Lightly chalky. Gooseberry. Vanilla. Tannins. Lemony.

Conclusion: Ok, now rhubarb is tart, lambic is tart also. So, because of that it took me a short while while drinking this to work out where one ended and the other began. It was not immediately obvious is what I am saying. Thankfully it became more obvious over time, otherwise I was going to be very confused.

So, as you may have guessed, first impressions are very straight up gueuze like character – horse blanket aroma, dry white wine and tart grape character. Ya know, good, but I could just have bought myself a gueuze if I had wanted that. Still, even like this is has the super dry, drinkable Cantillon character and what I used to find mouth puckering level sourness back in the day. Now years later it is just a pleasant sour kick that has become an old friend.

Over time the rhubarb character came out – that recognisable tart style in the middle, then leading out into the earthy style in the finish. It turns out that, contrary to what I first thought, it actually is fairly present – it just complements the gueuze so well that it takes a bit of time to separate them. When you do thought it is like a magic eye picture image popping out – this just delicious rhubarb character mixed with the white wine dry character.

There is a bit more fruit play noticeable now as well – the tartness has a gooseberry and elderberry character at the edge. As a result the tartness already there from the grapes is pushed up a notch, but again there is that earthy rhubarb character in the finish that helps ground it.

So, despite my initial doubts, this does the rhubarb justice – a very competent lambic that, however, is slightly lacking in range compared to some other Cantillons as the base and the rhubarb are so close in character. Not their best but a solid contender and a solid Cantillion is still a hell of a beer by any standard.

Background: So, I grabbed this at the Moor Taphouse on Zwanze day – the day Cantillon releases a new, unique beer to a few pubs around the world. Of which the tap-house was one, I didn’t do notes on Zwanze as I was being *shudder* social, but it was very nice. Anyway, they had a good range of Cantillon in bottles as well so I grabbed a couple to bring back. This is one of them. Natch. Otherwise that whole story would have been pointless. This is a lambic made with rhubarb. Long time readers may have noticed I am fascinated with rhubarb beers, even if their quality varies greatly. Speaking of varied quality I was very worried -on popping the cap off this as the cork below was soaked through and smelt of harsh vinegar, so I was worried the beer was off. Thankfully on removing the cork the beer within was fine. Whew. After failing to play Pixies – Bone machine during the Bone Machine beer review, I made up for it by putting the best of pixies while drinking this. The Pixies rule.

Advertisements

Lost and Grounded: Moor: Left Hand Giant: Berry Lush (England: Fruit Witbier: 4% ABV)

Visual: Black cherry red. Huge strawberry red head. Small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Blackcurrant cheesecake. Blackcurrant jam. Twigs. Strawberry. Thick. Tart grapes.

Body: Wheaty. Sharp lemon. Blueberry. White pepper. Tart blackcurrant. Charring. Tart grapes. Gooseberry.

Finish: Tart blueberries. Noble hop oils. Subtle blackcurrant. White pepper. Charred bitterness.

Conclusion: There is a massive disconnect between the aroma and the taste in this one. The aroma is hugely jammy, packed with fruit flavoured jelly notes (aka Jello for our American friends). It is sweet and thick. I was kind of worried that the sweetness was going to dominate the body too much and end up with a simple, one notes, sweet thing.

That definitely did not turn out to be the case.

The first hit of the main body is a sharp lemon note that seems fairly much like your standard expectations of a good wit, which was encouraging. It was good to see signs of the base beer evident through the berries. There also was a strong white pepper character that called to the spice use in a traditional wit. However that element isn’t too well used, combining with charred notes that make the beer feel unnecessarily harsh.

At this point the fruit is pretty much non existent, and the beer was feeling really lacklustre due to the harsher notes, the lack of fruit and the base beer being overwhelmed by the charring and spice. So, massively flawed, but not in the way I expected it to be.

This however turns out to be a beer that works better when warmer and with a bit of time to air. The rougher notes subside, though do not totally vanish. The berries rise without taking over and the base wit feels like it has some room to roam.

It is still not great, but is far more drinkable than it was before. Showing evident traditional dry, lemony wit character with subtle berries backing it up. There is still too evident pepper and charring which hurt it – however if they managed to turn that down a bit then this would be a heck of a better beer.

Bad start, reasonable end, but definitely needs work.

Background: This seems to a collaboration of some of the great breweries we have in the west country – Moor is an old fave of mine, while LHG and LAG are comparatively new kids on the block, but with some tasty beers already out from each. I’ve been feeling like a Belgian style wit for while, so when I saw this one – made with blackcurrant puree, at Independent Spirit, I figured it was worth a try. Put on a bunch of White Zombie for some retro b-movie style metal fun.

Oud Beersel: Green Walnut: 2017 (Belgium: Lambic – Fruit: 6% ABV)

Visual: Clear dark yellow. Large yellow-white head.

Nose: Oats. Horse blankets. Crushed nuts. White chocolate touch. Dried apricot. Moss.

Body: Acidic apple. Acidic pears. Lemon sherbet. Tart and acidic. Tart grapes. Cashew nuts. Dry white wine.

Finish: Lemon sherbet. Cashew nuts. Moss. Tart apples to cider. Dry white wine. Earthy notes, Charred notes.

Conclusion: Now this is nutty, very distinctly nutty, however lambics are fairly often nutty so I am unsure where the lambic base influence ends, and the green walnut addition begins. So, Let’s look at it as an overall beer for now, and see how things go from there, ok?

It comes in initially pretty tart and acidic on the main body, after you have moved past the fairly stereotypical horse blankets and oats aroma. The body comes in as a dry cider to dry white wine mix that gives a short sherbety burst before heading back to drying the mouth, leaving just a slight sweet sheen to keep it away from its ultra dry brethren. Throughout this is a kind of cashew nuttinesses, along with a mix of green nut flecks and moss notes that definitely call to its name. Psychosomatic due to the name? Who knows, but it gives an earthy, savoury middle to the beer that works well. Now, as mentioned the nuttiness becomes quite a bit element to the beer, maybe walnuts, but I would find it hard to say specifically.

Slightly sweet, but still tart, grapes come to again offset the hugely dry character so it doesn’t become harsh. Despite that, over time, the finish does gain a slight charred note that can come with a dry lambic. While this is not perfect, so far it has not harmed the beer as much as similar encounters with that element, so it isn’t a show stopper.

So, this feels pretty close to the standard lambic at the base – definitely more nutty than most, but I’m not sure if it is the most nutty. Time has brought out a lot more nuts than were evident at the start though, and considering the fact I have run into some pretty darn nutty lambics without the walnuts it seems to be doing ok. It is pretty dry, but not super dedicated to that part so doesn’t go too harsh or hard. Not a real stand out lambic, just a very solid one that leans into the nutty side of a lambic. I can’t complain, but it doesn’t feel super different for the odd ingredients used.

Background: This one has been on my radar for a while – a lambic made with green walnuts, a fairly unusual choice and so something worth checking out I felt. However at over 20 quid a bottle I kept finding other things to try. So, I finally bit the bullet and grabbed it from Independent Spirit. Hope it works out. Put on Heavens To Betsy – Calculated. Recent bullshit on various places online have put me back in a listening to Riot Grrrl punk kinda mood again.

Black Isle: 5-A-Day (Scotland: Fruit Session IPA: 3.5% ABV)

Visual: Darkened yellow to brown. Very large off white bubbled head.

Nose: Passion-fruit. Lightly wheaty. Light white pepper. Light hop character and bitterness.

Body: Sour-dough. Gritty bitterness. Gritty hop character. Chalk. Light tart gapes.

Finish: Gritty bitterness. High hop bitterness. Slight charring. Dry guava. Dry passion-fruit. Flour. Chalk.

Conclusion:Ok, this is one of the least fruity IPAs I have ever encountered. Which, considering it is made with passion-fruit is really a bad sign.

First impressions are of just a gritty, slightly chalky and rough thing. The beer seems to have run into the problem that a lot of session IPAs do, which that that unless they are brewed very well then the lower malt base can make the beer feel dry and over-attenuated with little residual sweetness, which can make the higher hop load just acrid rather than flavoursome.

Over time an ,admittedly still very dry, fruit character does out, but it is never anywhere near enough to push itself ahead of the dry charring that is the front of the beer. It isn’t big flavoured except in roughness, it isn’t easy drinking in any way, the hops are rough and the malt is empty. Even worse the added fruit twist does very little resulting in a beer that is both dull and harsh.

So this is a bad beer – chalky and clinging with all the worst elements holding on the longest. This is genuinely one to avoid as it has nigh no redeeming qualities.

Background: Black Isle Brewery was one of the first set of beers I did notes on, back when I was first starting the blog. They were ok but nothing special back then. Since then they seem to have a complete image overhaul and gone more into the craft beer scene rather than the more traditional ales they did before. So when I saw a bunch of their beers at Independent Spirit I decided to grab one and see how they had changed. This is is a low abv IPA made with passion-fruit. Seems simple enough. I put on Testament – Low for music to back this. No real reason, just enjoy their music.

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.

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.

%d bloggers like this: