"Aside from the stipulation that it be a beer brewed/augmented with fruit (or fruit juice or extract), there are no other rules or guidelines. Anything is fair game, from a tart and funky Kriek or Framboise, to a sugar-laden “lambic”, to a Blueberry Wheat or Raspberry Ale from your local brewpub."
I've tasted a number of fruit beers here at The Beer Tap recently so I needed to step out and find a few new brews. I decided to ask for suggestions from a guy at work who is every bit the beer fan that I am. In fact, the two of us together would make a crazy beer trivia team if I do say so myself. He has an amazing memory for breweries, brands, and types of beer, especially here in the Midwest. So after work on Wednesday I headed off to a new beer store specializing in singles to collect his suggestions (and a little more!).
The first beer I tasted was Blackberry Scottish Style by O'Fallon Brewery. The beer was a deep copper/amber color with a thin head that disappeared early in the pint. The aroma was primarily the blackberry fruit complimented with roasted grain and chocolate notes. The flavor of the beer was much lighter than expected. I think the blackberry flavor was at an appropriate level, but the Scottish Style was certainly lacking in malt flavor. There were roasted flavors similar to a porter, but not nearly enough sweetness to even come close to the Scottish style beer. Because of this, the beer was also thin which was only accentuated by a high carbonation level. My first thought was that the beer had continued to ferment after bottling, but it appears that even when first released there were issues with body according to people over at Rate Beer.
Second on the tasting bill was a Berliner Weisse brewed with peaches called Festina Peche by Dogfish Head. I am sure there will be others reviewing this beer as well since it just recently hit shelves and Dogfish puts out so many well liked beers, but it came highly recommended. The beer pours cloudy with a very pale yellow color that almost appears a little green. The aroma matches bread and grain with peaches, both balanced and not overpowering. When you take the first sip, you immediately notice tart and sour but never reach a point of extreme puckering. As the tartness fades, peach and biscuit/bread flavors come through. The peach flavor never dominates but rather supports the other flavors. The carbonation is noticeably tight with small bubbles. A unique beer that is surprisingly refreshing, especially considering peaches are not one of my favorite fruits.
Finally, I tried a year round offering from Dark Horse called Raspberry Ale. This ale was also cloudy and somewhere between a dark yellow and a pale orange. The aroma was definitely raspberry all the way from start to finish for this beer. Despite the dominance in the aroma, the raspberry flavors were relatively light and not over powering. As the fruit faded a more grain based flavor became apparent. A decent beverage but not a stellar beer. As I look at my notes from the other night when I taste the beer I notice that all I could summon was "OK" under the Overall category.
In general, I found each of the beers interesting but not necessarily worth a 4 or 6 pack purchase. The Festina Peche would be good every once and a while, but I personally wouldn't want to drink it in large quantities. I'm not the biggest fan of either sour beers or fruit beers but this one seems to find a sweet spot that I could enjoy from time to time. Like many beers, it sometimes just depends on the mood and the occasion. Bastardizing the old Almond Joy/Mounds commercials: "Sometimes you feel like fruit....sometimes you don't!"