#297 Bacchus – Frambozenbier

Name: Frambozenbier
Brewery: Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck (Ingelmunster, Belgium)
Style: Fruit beer/Sour Ale
ABV: 5%
Source: The Beer Store

I was saving this raspberry beer for a special occasion, because it came wrapped in pretty pink and white paper like a present. That special occasion came on Friday night when I found myself sitting in bed with a bowl of fejoa crumble watching 30 Rock. What an amazingly good time I am having, I thought. This calls for a celebration.

I vaguely  remember a time when I used to flippantly say “Oh I don’t like fruit beer, they’re all too sweet”, but now I realise I was stupid to judge an entire style, actually multiple styles, based on my one experience of Kriek at the Belgian Beer Cafe.

Now I openly love fruit beer, and I especially love the intense aroma and sour edge that raspberries impart. This version was a lovely accompaniment to my similarly sweet ‘n’ sour crumble (mostly because they both just tasted nice), and it completed the sense of pure indulgence that TV/dessert in bed had started.

The aroma was of freshly-picked raspberries, raspberries, and more raspberries. In the mouth there was a little burst of tartness that made my saliva glands jump, but then it was really quite thick and sweet, like raspberry jam. It wasn’t my idea of a perfect fruit beer – it wasn’t sour enough for that, but if I’d had it really chilled on a summers day I think it would have been excellent.

And so that you can see what the beer looked like before I unwrapped it, here’s a piccy I stole from the internet. Lovely innit?

Published in: on June 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm  Comments (1)  

#294 Richard Jack – Identity Crises

Richard Jack's Identity CrisesName: Identity Crises
Brewery: Richard Jack (homebrew)
Style: Wheat/Fruit Beer
ABV: 5%
Source: Richard Jack

Hey guys, remember how in the last post I was saying that I’m starting to think I might actually like wheat beers, and how it’s making me question everything I ever thought I knew and my own place in the universe and stuff? Well now look. Another wheat beer that I really liked and it’s called… Identity Crises.

Dun dunnnnn.

I think Richard  – who you may remember from such Beer For a Year posts as #287 – Figaro –  named it as such because it’s a Raspberry Wheat brewed in the American Style with English Yeast  (now that’s a beer that’s going to need therapy), but it’s also very befitting of my own personal wheat journey.

Now, I’m in a rush as I have heaps of posts to catch up on, so I’m just going to be lazy and post a photo of my notes:

Sorry to a) cut corners and b) force you to decipher my handwriting, which never actually developed after I turned 12 and started using computers instead of pens, but so many beers and so little time. Another great beer Richard, thank you!

Published in: on June 12, 2012 at 9:15 pm  Comments (1)  

#279 Red Duck – White Garden

I can’t find the photo I took! But I pinky swear I drank one.

Name: White Garden
Brewery: Red Duck
Style: Fruit Beer/Wheat Beer
ABV: 4.1%
Source: Grampians Grape Escape Festival

Just a very quick post as I’ve been writing all day and my fingers are going to fall off. No anecdotes or bad jokes, straight into it!

This is one of the beers that I bought from the Red Duck stand at the Grampians a couple of weeks ago. It’s a white beer made with raspberry and rhubarb jam which (like the watermelon wheat) I wasn’t super enthusiastic about drinking.

Actually though, I thought it was quite a charming, interesting little beer. The aroma was the best part – raspberries, with a little rhubarb, vanilla and turkish delight. In the mouth those flavours didn’t translate quite so strongly, but there was a pleasing dry tartness which sort of made up for it. Yes, I decided, this beer is my jam.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I think the Red Duck brewery is one to watch. Unfortunately they are one of the smallest microbreweries in Australia so I don’t expect to see their beer here any time soon, but if you ever find yourself in a place called Camberdown, VIC – hell, if you’re ever in Melbourne and you fancy a drive – I’d go to the brewery and check them out.

Published in: on May 22, 2012 at 8:31 pm  Comments (1)  

#230 Wanaka Beerworks – Lady

Name: The Lady
Brewery: Wanaka Beerworks
Style: Cherry wheat beer
ABV: 5.5%
Source: Victoria Park new World

I have never in my life bought a porn magazine, but now I think I might know what it feels like to do so.

I lingered around the beer fridge at Vic Park New World for a good five minutes before I finally plucked up the courage to pick this beer off the shelf.

I mean how pathetically predictable, I thought. The small blonde girl buying a cherry wheat beer called ‘Lady’. The beer with the picture of the peroxide-blonde on the front, seductively biting into a cherry.

“I don’t usually do this!” I wanted to say to the shoppers around me. “It’s just for research, honest!”

It’s probably not what Wanaka Beerworks had in mind when they came up with the idea for this beer. Instead they probably pictured girls in high-heels and pink dresses flocking to it on the shelf, exclaiming “Finally! A beer that’s made for me.”

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with marketing beer towards women. Just give us a bit more credit for Christ’s sake. “A wheat based cherry beer for the ladies with enough punch to please the gents too”, it says on the bottle. Why is it just men that want punch? Why does our beer have to be pink? Why not make us an Imperial Stout,  an IPA, or a Saison? Anything but cherry wheat!

Despite my irritation at the sexist assumption of what a Lady should drink, I really wanted to forget all that for a moment and review this beer fairly. I enlisted the help of my two sister’s, and didn’t tell them what I thought about the marketing until after we’d all tasted it.

We all thought it was OK, but nothing special. It didn’t taste obviously of cherries, but they gave a burst of sweetness and tartness at the forefront which I quite liked.  I was pleased it was dry and not overly sweet as I had expected, but it was one-dimensional. The flavour didn’t develop, the finish was flabby like most wheat beer is, and there was no real aftertaste.

Nearly all the ladies in my life drink beer, and they drink the same styles as the men I know. Many like bolshy IPAs best, others prefer stouts, and a few like me can’t make up their minds. The point is not that women don’t like wheat beer, it’s that we like all sorts of beer just like men do.

I don’t mean to be overly precious about this, it’s just frustrating that beers specifically marketed at women usually have some novelty feature, Like they’re low carb, or made with fruit, or in a dainty tiny bottle. And sometimes, when they’re really going for it, they do all three! Gahhhh….. 

Published in: on March 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm  Comments (5)  

#218 Lindemans – Framboise

Name Framboise
Brewery: Lindemans (St Pieters Leeuw-Vlezenbeek, Belgium)
Style: Lambic – Fruit
ABV: 2.5%
Source: The Beer Store

You know how some people think it’s not cool to like fruit beer because it’s all sweet and girly and goes against the Reinheitsgebot and might even be pink sometimes?

Well, screw those guys (I used to be one of them), because lots of fruit beer is really really delicious, including this one which tastes like liquid rasberry sorbet.

Sure, it’s very sweet. But it’s also tart and tangy (like real rasberries) with that signature musty earthiness that lambics have. It is by far the richest, fullest, most flavourful beer I have ever had at such a low ABV, which is neat because it means you can drink lots of it.

Except you couldn’t, unless you’re one of those people who’s constantly swigging soda all day. It’s just too sweet. I think it would be best served in a little crystal wine glass after Christmas dinner, or maybe even (like a rasberry sorbet) as a palate cleanser between meals.

However you do it, do it. Embrace the pink fruity deliciousness and hell – put the pretty bottle up on your wall afterwards for all your mates to see. Fruit beer rocks!

Published in: on March 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm  Comments (1)  

#164 Invercargill Brewery – Boysenbeery

Name: Boysenbeery
Brewery: Invercargill Brewery
Style: Fruit Beer
ABV: 6.5%
Source: Victoria Park New World

This beer made me feel like Rachel Hunter.

That is – Rachel Hunter eating a boysenberry Trumpet in the 1985 Tip Top commercial (which some would pinpoint as the beginning of her successful career).

You can’t really see it in my crappy photo, but it poured a gorgeous ruby/pink colour with a marshmallow head. It smelled, obviously, like fresh boysenberry’s, with a creamy, vanilla backing (that’s the icecream), and some wheat – which made me think of boysenberry pie.

That all sounds pretty sickly, but in the mouth it wasn’t not really sweet at all. It was dry and crisp with a lemony tartness at the finish – which made it taste classy, like Rachel Hunter.

While I probably wouldn’t want a whole pint of this, the 330ml bottle chilled on a hot afternoon was perfection

And now this!

Published in: on January 21, 2012 at 1:40 pm  Comments (9)  

#54 Three Boys – Wild Plum Ale

Three Boys Wild Plum Ale Name: Wild Plum Ale 2011
Brewery: Three Boys (Christchurch, new Zealand)
Style: Fruit beer
ABV: 7.7%
Source: On tap at Galbraith’s Ales

I thought I was going to drink a barley wine last night, but decided that on a grey Saturday afternoon the best place to be was Galbraith’s. Of course, the rest of Auckland had decided that when Scotland and England are playing rugby the best place to be is Galbraith’s, so when I got there I found I could barely breathe for orange wigs, facepaint and kilts.

Me and Olivia headed outside and found a nice spot by the fire, taking with us a Coronado Islander IPA and a Three Boys Wild Plum Ale. We drank the IPA first which was like a luscious summer dessert – sticky tropical fruit, toffee, a creamy mouthfeel and sharp bitter finish. Olivia actually declared it to be the best beer she had ever tasted which is a big call, but not undeserved…

I had planned to post the IPA as my beer of the day, but after tasting the seasonally-released Three Boys Wild Plum Ale we both agreed that it was so interesting that I had to write about that one instead.

It looked fairly ordinary really – by which I mean it wasn’t bright purple, as you might expect for a beer that’s made with plums. The smell didn’t give too much away, either. I could sense a bit of stonefruit – not necessarily plums, a little alcohol, and some malt. I have to agree with Olivia though, who said “mostly it smells like beer.”

That’s why we were so surprised when we took a sip. A sour bomb went off instantly, followed by a burst of ripe plum, maraschino cherries, a little caramel sweetness and a bitter (not hoppy, but tart) finish. The flavour is really quite incredible – so intensely plummy that it’s almost a caricature… like sour, plum-flavoured boiled sweets.

I really enjoyed the first 3/4 of the beer -we kept marveling at it’s individuality with each sip – but after a certain point  it seemed to fall apart a bit. By that time the poor beer had been near the fire for about 45 minutes, and the sour plum flavour seemed to get thinner and a bit unpleasant as it got warm.

If I had this again (and I plan to), I would have it chilled (obviously), and in a smaller, more elegant glass. In the summertime at my mum’s house we’d sometimes have champagne flutes of Moscato d’Asti (cheap but delicious sweet, sparkling Italian wine) before dinner, and I fancy the idea of drinking the Wild Plum Ale like that. I’d also like to get it in a paper-wrapped bottle next time, because it looks so beautiful – see!


so damn fancy

Published in: on October 2, 2011 at 11:18 am  Comments (4)  

#40 Cantillon – Kriek

Cantillon KriekName: Kriek
Brewery: Cantillon (Brussels, Belgium)
Style: Lambic – Kriek
ABV: 5%
Source: Regional Wines (Wellington)

A few weeks ago I rang up mum in Wellington and asked her pick me up a Smokin’ Bishop from Regional Wines.

“And while you’re there,” I said, “could you get me a Russian River Consecration?”

I didn’t know then that I was asking mum to get me a $30 bottle of beer, so it’s probably just as well they didn’t have it. Staff member Kieran (who is Regional’s beer specialist) picked this one as an alternative, and also suggested a bunch of other beers for me to try. Tonight I came over to Waiheke (where mum has just moved) and finally got my hands on them. They all look awesome!

I know a few mad bastards who are into sour beers (including my dad who is a Geuze freak), so I was quite keen to try one for myself.  This one’s a lambic, a style which Google tells me is spontaneously fermented with  the wild yeast and bacteria that occurs in the southwest of Brussels, and this particular style – a Kriek –  is fermented with cherries.

It seemed appropriate that I should pop my “sour beer cherry” – so to speak – with a bottle that had both a cap and a cork on it. These things shouldn’t be rushed into, I suppose.

As you can see it poured a spectacular shade of cranberry, and had a girly marshmallow pink head.

The aroma was interesting – musty like an antique shop, with very light notes of tart cherry and no sign of sweetness. It actually reminded me heaps of the cider my dad makes.

The taste was… Incredible! My saliva glands  instantly exploded at the mouth-puckering sourness of it, which lasted for a moment before calming to a light acidity. Then there was the flavour and a slight hint of sweetness from the cherries, that same musty character, and a sour, dry finish. It was like no beer I’d ever had before, and if I’d tasted it blind I’m not sure I’d even know it was a beer.

I have no idea how the Cantillon Kriek compares with other sour beers, but it was an excellent introduction and I’m looking forward to drinking more. I’d still really like to try the Russian River Consecration and Supplication, so if anyone wants to buy me an early Christmas present you can get them here 😉

Almost as astonishing as this beer is the fact that Ireland just beat Australia in the rugby. Might have to be a Guinness tomorrow!

Published in: on September 17, 2011 at 11:27 pm  Comments (2)  

#5 Moa Breakfast

Moa Breakfast Beer Name: Breakfast
Brewer: Moa (Blenheim, New Zealand)
Style: Breakfast lager
ABV: 5.5%

Five days in and I can already see how difficult this Beer for a Year thing will be to pull off. I’m tired, hungover, and frankly the last thing I want to do is drink a beer right now. Coffee for a Year, anyone?

Luckily I picked up this Moa “Breakfast” last night in preparation, thinking it must be the equivalent of an alcoholic Up’n’Go. I know nothing about it beyond the title, but from that I can assume that it’s going to be good for me.

*goes to fridge, pops cork on Moa, cork hits cat who is too fat and lazy to react. Pours glass and sips.*

Oh wow, yum! It tastes like Turkish delight and marshmallow and flowery soap and… something else… *reads bottle* … Ahh yes of course – it’s made with cherries! I very rarely order fruit beers as I’ve found them to be a bit sweet in the past, but this is much lighter than kriek and very, very easy to drink. And the Aroma – it’s heavenly! *pours a second glass*

if I was the kind of person who threw ladies lunches in her garden, and I like to think one day I might be , then I wouldn’t think twice before serving this. It’s the perfect thing for a summer afternoon, or indeed, a hangover.

And for no real reason other that I am, I recommend listening to some Peter Sarstedt while you drink it.

(If you need a reason, then the fancy lady he’s singing about would probably like this beer.)

Published in: on August 13, 2011 at 3:28 am  Leave a Comment