Friday, August 3, 2007

The Session #6: Fruit Beer

The session spotlight this month is on fruit beer (being hosted over at Beer, Beats & Bites), and specifically raspberry fruit beer in this entry. I'm relatively new to fruit beer, having only had only two at a local brewery in the past. One of those I will feature here in this session. It's the Mom's Raspberry from the Old Baldy Brewery Company in Upland, CA. The other fruit beer I will present is one that has intrigued me for a while, readily available in Southern California, yet I just decided to buy it this last week due only to the fact that fruit beer was the subject of this month's session. That beer is the Lost Coast Raspberry Brown.

For anyone not familiar with this Lost Coast beer, it is their regular release Downtown Brown ale that is infused with raspberries. I've always noticed this at beer stores because I like the label, but I only just thought about buying it. Being new to beer and food pairing (I just started reading the terrific Garrett Oliver book) I brought it home and poured a glass to go with my Caesar salad. I'm not sure if that is a great pair or not, but the raspberry and brown ale flavor seemed to go fairly nice with the salad. The aroma right when poured is tart raspberries, but they don't jump out too far, it's relatively subtle. It took some searching for me, but I was able to get more of a caramel or toasty aroma as well. The taste starts with a wave of mild raspberries and after that fades there's some toasty tasting malt with a bitter and maybe slightly metallic finish. The mouthfeel is to me what may make or break a fruit beer. They all taste like fruit, but the correct amount of carbonation can really accent the whole experience. This beer had a good mouthfeel, making it a bit spritzy, though it does have quite a smooth malt background to it. All in all it was an Ok beer. The weird bitter finish turned me off a little more than I enjoyed the initial taste, but it wasn't bad by any means.

On the other hand, I absolutely loved the Old Baldy Brewery's Mom's Raspberry. This fruit beer is built on their Kolsch base, like the Raspberry Brown is built on the brown ale base. The Kolsch is very light so it doesn't add a whole lot of character and lets the raspberry really take center stage. The carbonation is also on the high-medium side so it's very live on the tongue. Not complex at all but just flat out tasty.

So these are 2 of the less-than-handful fruit beers I've tried. It has really piqued my interest and I'm excited to eventually get around to the New Glarus Belgian Red and Raspberry Tart I have sitting in my fridge.

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