Right now here in Southern California it’s overcast, cold, and cloudy, but only a few days ago, when I began writing this post the sun was shining, birds were singing, and a light breeze was blowing the subtle fragrance of flowers all around. Spring time seemed unquestionably upon us, and despite my best efforts to even begin to think of another type of beer to feature for this week’s Sunday Suds, the only one that seemed to fit the season is fruit beer. So today, with the hope of bringing back a little bit of that sunshine to an otherwise gloomy day, we’re talking about three of them.
There are nearly endless varieties of beers on the market that are flavored with some type of fruit, and the category is so extensive that it is difficult to make generalizations about it. Fruit can find its way into styles of beer ranging from pale, unfiltered wheat beers all the way to black, murky stouts. The beers we will be talking about today are all pale in color, but they are each made in a different style. Our first is an unfiltered wheat beer, our second is a blonde ale, and our last is a type of Abbey style ale.
Brew #1: Abita Purple Haze
Abita Brewing opened just north of New Orleans in 1986. They produce seven year round beers, five seasonal brews, a selection of specialty beers, as well as a “harvest” collection of flavored beers made with local fruits and nuts. Purple Haze is a classic wheat beer that, following filtering, is flavored with fresh raspberry puree. This unique method of fruit infusion preserves the purity of the wheat beer, while introducing a very fresh taste of raspberry at the same time.
Extremely subtle in every way, this brew’s aroma is ever so lightly hinted with the smell of fresh crushed raspberries. The crisp, yet slightly creamy smell of wheat and delicately sweet malt shows as a firm backbone to the fruitiness. The fruit also plays into the hops, creating a bright, enticing aroma.
Subtle and soft, this brew drinks very much like any other wheat beer, with only a very soft accent of raspberries throughout. Fruit beers are frequently dominated by the overpowering flavor of whatever has been added to them, but what is striking about this brew is that the wheat beer is what you taste first. Nicely balanced, crisp and refreshing this is a smooth well made beer with notes of wheat bread, creamy malt, and a persistent but very delicate hint of raspberry. A very easy drinking, well made fruit beer that’s…
Worth Trying. 85 points.
Brew #2: Pete’s Wicked Strawberry Blonde
Our next brew comes from a brewer who opened their doors in 1986 in San Antonio, Texas. With a line that includes only four brews, their original Wicked Ale, a cream ale, an ale with lemon, and the Strawberry Blonde we are about to cover, Pete’s offerings are focused but diverse at the same time. Their Strawberry Blonde is a golden lager made with the addition of wheat malts.
The aroma is ripe, lush, and reminiscent of strawberry shortcake, with soft, almost vanilla like undertones, and a lightly piney edge brought on by the hops.
The same strawberry shortcake found on the nose appears on the palate, with a wheaty backbone appearing soon after. There is a faint hint of orange, a very subtle hoppy quality, showing just a bit of pine, and a lasting finish of strawberries. This is a well integrated brew. The fruit flavors are not overwhelming, and bring a subtle definition to the crispness of the beer, rather than drowning it out.
Worth trying. 87 points.
Brew #3: Unibroue Ephemere (Apple)
Our final beer comes from Canada’s Unibroue brewery. I plan to write an article in the future featuring a selection of their brews, so I will keep today’s introduction brief. Unibroue released their first beer in 1992 and has been one of the world’s leaders in modern monastic style brewing ever since.
The style that Unibroue is famous for recreating entails a continued fermentation within the bottle, very much like that used in traditional method sparkling wine production. The live yeast creates a characteristically substantial head, additional aroma and flavor characteristics, and also usually some obvious sediment at the bottom of the bottle.
Ephemere is the name of Unibroue’s fruit based line. Today we will be talking about their apple flavored brew, but a blackcurrant flavored ale is also made in the same way and under the same title. Taking inspiration from a traditional Belgian Witbier (white ale), this wheat beer is spiced with coriander and curacao orange, and additionally brewed with apple must.
The nose is dominated by remarkably precise apple jelly tones, kitchen spices, and honey. Orange marmalade, light floral tones, and a very subtle note of brown sugar show with a gentle spin in the glass.
The palate is crisp and clean with apple and orange marmalade tones. Mixed spices, with cardamom and clove showing particularly clearly, appear combined with an almost nutty yeastiness. This brew has good complexity, a clean, refreshing palate, and is an enjoyable drinking experience.
Worth Trying. 87 points.
Please Leave a Comment:
What’s your favorite fruit beer?