When Greg Clow, from BeerBeatsBites, announced this month’s Session topic, I knew immediately what I would do: I’d circumvent the ubiquitous brewpub raspberry beer, and talk about the malt driven fruits that my tastebuds favor. But a little closer inspection revealed that there’s “the stipulation that it be a beer brewed/augmented with fruit (or fruit juice or extract).” Okay. I know there are good ones in that department as well.
Part 1-Follows the Rules
It was a few days after the announcement when I paid a visit to an aunt. Hidden in the back of her fridge was a single bottle of Estes Park Brewery‘s Long’s Peak Raspberry Wheat. Perfect, thought I. I need to drink a fruit beer this month.
With raspberry extract added following conditioning, this 4.1% abv beer is the very beer I feared discussing this month. Lackluster. Some would call it a chick beer, but no chick I’d hang around. And certainly not the beer that Stan found for his Session this month.
Off to the cellar, where I turned to a homebrew named for a song by the The Runaways: Cherry Bomb.
A Belgian Dark Strong, originating at 1.092, I racked a gallon into a separate carboy for secondary fermentation, and added a half pound of dried bing cherries. This deepened the color and added a touching cherry nuance. Yummy.
Part 2-Bends the Rules
To be sure, I love fruit, and I love a well done fruit beer. If I’d had more time, I fully intended to MacGyver a Randall, and fresh fruit-ify myself some beery pleasure for this fine day. But here I go, still thinking about those other beers: the ones that pull dark fruit flavors from the malts. How about a quick roundup of styles and flavors of my favorite alt-fruit beers?
Russian Imperial Stout: raisin, plum, prune
Old Ale: dried fruit, vinous
Flanders Red: plum, orange, black cherry, red currant
Flanders Brown: raisin, plum, fig, date, black cherry, prune
Belgian Dubbel: raisin, dried fruit
Belgian Tripel: orange, lemon
Belgian Dark Strong: raisin, plum, dried cherry, fig, prune
Rules or no rules, I think it’s important to think about these styles as brilliant ideas for transition beers. Their fruity nuances are very appealing (and educational). Some might fall in the love/hate category, and some may need to be built toward, but flavor is flavor and one likes what one likes. I, for one, had epiphany after epiphany when I discovered these “fruit” beers. And I’ve seen others do the same.