Say “fruit beer” to many a professional beer lover and they’ll cringe. They’ll squint their eyes, maybe curl one side of their upper lip, and dismiss them as “kinda fake,” “too sweet” or the most recklessly pejorative, “girly.” So how great is it that those who most espouse the spirit of craft brewing – experimenting with limitless range of ideas and flavors including brewing with traditional and unconventional ingredients – are often the ones racing to try new beers that incorporate exotic fruits?
Beyond the celebrated cherrypalooza New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red, brewers everywhere are trying everything: Cigar City Guava Grove Saison, Upland Kiwi Lambic and the ephemeral (or was it?) Dogfish Head Arctic Cloudberry Imperial Wheat.
Americans are giving Belgian brewers a run for their Euros.
Burnside Brewing in Portland hosts the 1st Annual Fruit Beer Fest this weekend, offering around 20 fruit-forward beers. And these ain’t no raspberries in the wheat beer/banana in the tailpipe concoctions.
Festival organizers approached brewers with the challenge of making original beers using real whole, pureed or juiced fruits without using any of the extracts or flavorings that have contributed to giving fruit beers a bad name.
At a preview event, I sampled a tart Upright strawberry beer aged in gin barrels where the botanicals shone through, a hoppy Alameda huckleberry IPA and a roasty, spicy Hopwork’s chili stout that challenged the perception/classification of chili peppers as a fruit (but who cares when the result is reminiscent of Mexican chocolate).
What’s your favorite fruit beer? What fruit would you love to try in a beer that you haven’t come across yet?