Beer, Beats, and Bites were on deck this month for the Session.
I love fruit beers. Kind of. I love some fruit beers and I really loathe others. We have two "fruit" beers on year round, one of which I like and one of which I hate. If I had my druthers I probably wouldn't have either one on, but the public demands it! Some people really like the cough-syrup flavored beers that were all the rage in American brewpubs in past years.
The fruit beers that we make that I love are entirely different from the syrup added variety. Two of them are national and internationally award winning. De Zuidentrein Frambozenbier is a Belgian style brown ale that we age in a wine barrel that has fresh raspberries in it. It picks up some vinous character from the barrel and has lots of raspberry flavor and aroma. It isn't one of those syrupy sweet raspberry beers though. Let's look at some of the reviews from one of the popular beer rating websites:
2.8 / 5--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tap @ GTMW. Clear ruby brown in color with a dusty, swirling grey head. Ripe strawberry and raspberry aroma with hints of scotch and a cedar component. Thin and watery on the palate, met with a bourbon with a splash or raspberry liqueur. Not very well balanced and pretty boring.
3 / 5
sampled at barrel-aged brewfest. terrible. raspberry megasou aroma. red toffee color. some head. flavor profile is short with a clear, unfulfilling finish. SO thin. SO watered down. miserable. god, that was an unforgiving review.This is the beer that in 2005 was awarded a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival.
|Anheuser-Busch, Inc.||9th Street Market Tuscan Orange||MO||Silver||Fruit and Vegetable Beer|
|Flossmoor Station Brewing Co.||De Zuidentrein Frambozenbier||IL||Bronze||Fruit and Vegetable Beer|
|New Glarus Brewing Co.||Belgian Red||WI||Gold||Fruit and Vegetable Beer|
Does that mean that the reviews are wrong? I don't think so, because you can't really say that someone's opinion about a beer is "wrong." It's what they thought after they tried the beer and what they perceived. I'm not really sure where a Scotch component comes from out of a beer with fruit that has been in french oak, but people are all different and everyone finds something else. To me what it does say is that unless they had a sample that was terribly tainted or were drinking out of a dirty boot (let's assume that they weren't) that these two people probably don't get it. "It" being fruit beers. They were probably expecting something more along the lines of that '05 GABF perennial Gold medal winner, New Glarus Belgian Red.
Now what I really find interesting is that the very same beer secondarily fermented with two different strains of wild Belgian yeast, Brettanomyces bruxellensis and Brettanomyces lambicus, then blended to please our ultra sophisticated pallets, hand bottled, and aged, went on to win a Silver medal at the '06 World Beer Cup in the Belgian Style Sour Ale category. What was the Gold? Rodenbach Grad Cru, a beer that I think is incredible.
Category: 43 Belgian-Style Sour Ale - 22 Entries
Gold: Rodenbach Grand Cru, Palm Breweries Belgium Site Brewery Rodenbach, Roeselare, Belgium
Silver: De Wilde Zuidentrein, Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery, Flossmoor, IL
Bronze: Festina Lente, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE
And some other brewery won a bronze.
So what's the difference between the two? Well Loads! That yeast took the beer from the realm of dry tartness to mouth puckering but refreshing sourness. By the way the reviews for De Wilde Zuidentrein on that same beer review site are all very positive, which I attribute to the fact that the only people who have had a chance to drink it understand the painstaking work that went into the beer and the ludicrously small amounts that are available to consume. (And I'm sure that while they were drinking it we reminded them more than once that they were drinking the second best sour Belgian ale in the world. That might have tainted their opinions.)
In other fruit beer news, my wedding beer is going to be a light bodied Belgian style wit beer made with blood oranges. I have high hopes for it. Stay Tuned.