Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fruit? Nuts.

Assuming it's been missed, I apologize for the lack of posts in the last three weeks. I have been writing a major paper and I can't burn the typing candle at both ends, so sadly the beer blog's flame has dwindled, temporarily. 

Of course I've still been drinking like a fish. And I'm posting today because I can't not let this out:
Fruit beers: what's the point??

OK that's a bit harsh, but I seriously believe that 95% of fruit beers are a waste of time and that the beer would have been far better without them. It's not that they are inherently bad, but they tell the same lie told by fruit tea: The packaging looks delicious (hmmm, blueberries, yum), the aroma is room-fillingly fantastic, but when you raise the glass to your lips…..nothing.

I don't know why — as I rarely touch them usually — but I have had five fruit beers this month and only two of them have been any good. One of those you already  know about: I find Driftwood's Belle Royale to be delightful. But it is both powerful and local (my weaknesses), so am just kidding myself? No.

Exhibit A: Phillips Twenty-four Mile Blueberry Pail Ale

This is a local beer by one of my favourite breweries brewed using ingredients sourced from within twenty-four miles. A wannabe-lefty-beardstroker like me should be gushing over this, but I found it very bland. It poured utterly headless: like Tizer. It smelled like fizzy blueberry tea, and I know this sounds harsh, but it tasted a little bit like pickled beet juice. I have to stress that this is an exception from the usually-reliable Phillips stable. But I did not like it.

Exhibit B: Dogfish Head Black and Blue
A massively 10% "Golden ale fermented with blackberries and blueberries". I might be uncultured, but this tasted like very boozy diet fruit soda to me. It has a thin tannin mouthfeel. I get some odd spices and yeast that makes it worthwhile, but I wouldn't track it down again. I don't even want to think about what I paid for it.

The one thing they have going in their favour is they make pretty pictures. And they do say pictures paint a thousand words…

…which is a lie. My prof won't accept doodles. I gotta get these papers written. Speak soon. SB

Guests pretending to like the
weird beer I served them.
It's not even blue…

Not bad, this one. But I'd not buy  it again. 


  1. Thanks for the heads-up! Now I know what NOT to buy next time I'm oot and aboot looking for a Canadian micro-gem!

  2. Hey Dan,

    I think the fatal flaw with fruit is that brewers insist on pushing them into really clean, light-bodied Ales. Inevitable, the fruit dominates the mild malt and it starts to taste more like Soda than beer.

    The best fruit beers out there are darker and stronger, to give them enough umph to stand up. Check out Ommegang Three Philosophers or Unibroue Quelque Chose, they're insanely good.

    I tried my hand at that with my Red Wine Ale. Recipe still needs a lot of work, but I think I'm on the right track.


  3. I really liked the Unibroue Ephemere Apple, but the cassis beer I thought to be way to sweet and fruity. I have a bottle of Cherry Lambic in my fridge that was given to me, honestly I'm hesitant to open it. I also do not share the love for the fruity beers.

  4. Yeah. I think a large market for fruit beers is the casual crowd who like the idea of local breweries and are tempted by interesting concepts like Blueberry beer, especially during the summer. Nothing wrong with that of course, and I commend brewers for reaching out. But to my tastes many of them are quite lightweight. Done right, I am sure there are fruit beers I could love (almost) as much as my favourite grains...

  5. You have obviously not tried New Glarus's Wisconsin Belgian Red or Raspberry tart- they would have you singing a different tune, superb beers! Also, in a slightly different vein, how do you feel about fruit lambics? I used to think like you but all it takes is an authentic fruit character and an ale it doesn't overwhelm and magic is possible.

  6. Yeah I think that's basically the point I'm getting at Eric. I'm not opposed to fruit beers per se, just the good ones that really make use of the fruit and excite me are few and far between. The provocative phrasing of the post was just to get reactions ;)

    I'll look out for the New Glarus. Like most things, I'm sure I'll contradict myself down the line and declare fruit beers the most interesting part of craft brewing...

  7. Preach it, brother. Phillips' fruit beers are all really OK (thanks to their excellent QC and overall clean profile) but absolutely un-funky. No "edges" or weirdness to any of them and they come off rather bland. The Blackberry HefeBison (they love their puns) is about the same as the Blueberry. I'm waiting for a sour lambic fruit beer from Driftwood :)

  8. 95% are a waste of time, yet two out of five were good?

    This opinion on fruit beers doesn't add up...

    *fetches calculator*

  9. It's about to get worse. I drank a delicious plum quad the other day. I'm going to have to swill 17 crappy lambics just to balance the books.