Raspberry vs Blackberry – It’s Gonna Get Fruity in Beer

Steamworks Brewing Company Frambozen

Steamworks? In Bottles? Oh yes, you read that correctly. For those days when you just don’t want to haul your growler to Gastown for a refill, you can now pop into your favourite craft beer retailer and pick up a 650ml.

 

Here is a bit of information from the press release:

“Available for purchase August 27, 2012, Steamworks Pale Ale and the Steamworks Pilsner aim to bring the brewpub experience home with their refreshing and crisp craft brews. On a seasonal basis, Steamworks Brewing Company will also be releasing limited edition beers in 650mL bottles, including popular Frambozen, Wheat Ale, Heroica Oatmeal Stout and its highly coveted Pumpkin Ale.”

 

 

As any review of Steamworks new bottled brews would be amiss if it did not give recognition to their incredible label (or no-label) design work, here is a bit more from the press release:

“Adding to the excitement, Steamworks Brewing Company also enters the market as the first beer to feature the design of esteemed creative team, Laurie Millotte and Bernie Hadley-Beauregard of Brandever, one of the country’s most irreverent and popular wine label designers. Brandever’s work includes designs for Blasted Church winery, Monster Vineyards and Laughing Stock. In stores this week, Steamworks bottles feature whimsical and stylized Steampunk inspired images combined with Vancouver landmarks, brewery nuances and of course, steam.”

As an aside, I think I am going to make these bottles into Christmas lights -they are just that cool!

 

 

Oh yeah and there is beer in the bottles as well so let’s get our fruit on…

Frambozen pours a brilliant red colour with golden tones and very little head, which quickly departs. It is all about the berry on the nose, it is very light bodied, clean to drink with just the slightest hint of bitterness on the finish. Like the nose, raspberry really dominates everything else palate wise. I wish there had been more body to this beer and some tartness from the berries. Somehow the raspberry takes on an almost artificial quality, like raspberry flavour instead of real berry taste, but that’s an issue I have with lots of fruit beers. I had tried Frambozen at the Great Canadian Beer Festival and I really liked it so I assumed I would still enjoy it but somehow the bottled experience did not quite live up to the freshly tapped keg. Overall not a bad beer, a good summer sipper, but I would probably try it on draught over bottle.

 

Townsite Brewing Blackberry Festivale

So what is the new brewer on the block bringing to the table? A Blackberry Wheat Beer called Blackberry Festivale.

For those of you in self-imposed beer exile, Townsite Brewing Inc. is located in a historic building in the beautiful town of Powell River, British Columbia. The inaugural keg tapped on March of this year. They have four core beers in their line-up a Porter, a Wheat, an IPA and a Golden Blonde with seasonal offerings like the Blackberry reviewed below. According to their (fantastic) website the people behind Townsite are committed to:

1. Brew world-class beers
2. Promote beer culture and the responsible enjoyment of beer
3. Use sustainable business practices
4. Promote local economy and regional self-reliance
5. Support environmental stewardship and social responsibility
6. Kindle social, environmental and cultural change

 

 

First up, I have to give Townsite kudos for their vintage, art nouveau-esque label that incorporates lots of fun elements, nice fonts and an image of the historic building where the brewery is located. I love that all the newbies popping up throughout BC have made an effort to brew great beer and package it in great bottles. For me, this berry rumble almost became a battle of bottle aesthetics but I am easily distracted by pretty colours.

Blackberry Festivale comes in a 650ml and weighs in at 5.5% ABV. It is a wheat beer at heart. Festivale pours a cloudy amber gold with tons of white head (and I mean REALLY white head, like unearthly, glow-in-the-dark, Hollywood actress teeth white) that never really wants to leave. You get the requisite wheat beer nose with lots of yeast and spicy notes. Flavour wise you still are pretty much solidly in the wheat beer realm with this cloying sweetness that must be the blackberry influence; however, my entourage all agreed that this is a ‘barely berry’ beer. By this I mean unless I saw the raining blackberries on the label I might have missed the fact it was a fruit beer and I definitely could not discern blackberry as the fruit involved. Yeasty on the finish. Not bad as a wheat beer but I am not feeling this ‘just add fruit’ mantra since I find the wheat character often overpowers other elements.

 

Ding, ding, ding, our winner is…

If you feel the need to go berry, I have to give my recommendation to Steamworks Frambozen.

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