Tag Archives: Fruit Beer

Blogging and Drinking and Drinking and Blogging

Well it has been a ridiculously long time since my last post. Always ready with a myriad of excuses on why I do not have enough hours in the day to sit down and blog (a problem exclusive to me I believe) I have decided to crack a beer and blog while I drink it …no excuses!

TGIF, and TGIF it is a warm and sunny Friday. Ottawa has taught me (beaten into me) the need to seize every sun-filled moment and wring every last minute out of it because Mother Nature will soon take back what she has brought forth. So in honour of the sunshine I am drinking, literally right now as I type or at least between typing sentences.

Always a sucker for trying an odd beer flavour and basically ambivalent about Disco, Disco Soliel India Pale Ale brewed with kumquats, was an easy choice.


Disco Soleil, from the always fabulous Quebec Brasserie Dieu du Ciel, pours a cloudy, sediment filled, effervescent dark orange gold with airy white head. There is a big tropical fruit nose with floral hop notes as well. First few sips are full-bodied, strong with a bitterness that reminds me of citrus rind or grapefruit, and lots of hop.


As I continue drinking this beer becomes a bit more balanced; the malt character emerges from behind the initial bitterness and the hops are more subtle. The head settles down into some nice lacing around the glass and the nose pretty much dissipates. The strength of this beer imparts a nice warming feeling.


Final thoughts. I like this beer. To elaborate a bit, the citrus forward IPA’s are a favourite of mine given I am not the most hop happy beer geek at the pub there is something about the bold bitter fruit flavours that I really enjoy. Bolder IPA’s really seem benefit from a bigger ABV as well as some time to sit and breathe bringing the complexity of tastes to their full potential. Disco Soleil leaves me with a lingering bitter taste with just a bit of sweet toffee malt.


I doubt this brewery could make a bad beer if they tried…

Beer, meet Blueberry


Fruit beer is tricky. Err on the too sweet side and you risk alienating beer fans, err on the too sour side and you become a niche beer but when it all comes together in harmony the results are good, really good.

Lanark County Blueberry Mead comes to us from Trafalgar Ales and Meads based in Oakville, Ontario. It is described as a braggot style mead brewed with berries and honey from Lanark County in Eastern Ontario. The mead incorporates hops and barley making it a bit of a hybrid.

Blueberry Mead pours a clear berry colour with just a hint of head on the initial pour that quickly dissipates and slight carbonation. Very honeyed on the nose. First sips are sweet at the front of the palate then giving way to more complex tastes of roasted grain and liquor. The berry presence is more visual than flavourful imparting a slight earthy quality. There is a deep warming sensation as you drink probably due to the relatively high ABV of 8.5%. The finish is also pretty earthy so the description of terroir mead noted on the bottle seems fitting. Overall an interesting beer that blurs the lines on just what defines a craft brew.

Birthday Beer!


I always like to save a special beer to commemorate this oh so special day.

No, I am not talking about Easter, though it does have its merits as a candy-fuelled holiday, I am talking about my birthday!

To mark this momentous occasion I celebrated with Cascade Brewing’s Apricot an oh so very sour brew for this oh so sour beer-lovin’ gal.

Apricot ale is a Northwest Style Sour Ale aged in oak barrels with apricots. Apricot pours a bright gold colour, slightly opaque, with lots of bubbles and very little white head. Sweet dried fruit on the nose and just the slightest hint of funkiness. Now I love sour, the tarter the better, but hang on to your beer glasses fellow geeks because this beer is Sour (with a capital S nonetheless). Lots of apricot flavour, a bit of citrus, some earthy character, medium body and a dry finish. The sour finish lingers and lingers. This beer just never let’s up. It was so tart it made the back of my cheek pucker as I drank it but as sour lovers know this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Overall a great beer. At this point I feel like such a groupie that I am not sure Cascade Brewing is capable of making a bad beer. Happy Birthday to me indeed…

Strawberry Fields Forever


There is something about that first truly gorgeous weekend of spring that just puts you in a great mood. The sun is shining, the cherry blossoms are blooming, there is a nice cool ocean breeze and I inadvertently got my first sunburn.

It sure is sweet.

To top off such a glorious day an equally glorious beer is called for. Thankfully when I called Strawberry Northwest Style Sour Ale from Cascade Brewing Company answered.

Strawberry is a blend of wheat ales aged in oak barrels and then aged again on strawberries. On first pour this beer is cloudy, dark gold in colour, with a slight ring of head. The nose is summer in a bottle, earthy, sweet and berry. Oh so very berry. Less tart than most of the Cascade beers but still bringing a nice touch of sour to offset the very prominent strawberry presence. Fairly light in body with a sweet and ever so slightly oaky finish. This ale is, like the majority of Cascades line-up, utterly amazing.


Out of the Cellar: Dogfish Head Fort 2009

New Years Eve seemed like the perfect night to delve into the ol’ cellar for that oh so big beer you cannot figure out when exactly to drink.

In my cellar that beer is one of my oldest residents a 2009 bottling of Fort from Dogfish Head Brewery, a strong ale brewed with raspberries.


Fort pours a crystal clear rose gold colour with minimal white head that almost immediately turns to a thin lacing. All rotten raspberry on the nose, think overripe berries left in the sun not a bad smell just sweet with a touch of funk, and just a whiff of alcohol eluding to things to come. First sip is over the top liquor (in retrospect this one probably needs a bigger glass to breathe) with the vapours hitting you in the back of the throat before you swallow. After the initial shock this beer gives way to big fruit flavour, a slightly viscous mouthfeel and a warming finish. Fort is most definitely a sipper more in common with cordial than either beer or wine.

I have also had this beer sans aging and it still packed quite the punch even then. Do I regret aging my Fort? No, I think it adds character to this beer toning down the berry and bringing forward (and up) the alcohol content. Would I drink this on a regular basis? Hell no. Fort is special occasion only for me.

Sunday with a Chance of Rasberries

It is still summer and that means it is still okay to drink beer brewed with raspberries. For you see like the looming onslaught of seasonal pumpkin beers heading down the pipe that one can and must only consume in October, I tend to view raspberry (or berry beers of any kind) to be a summer time indulgence.

With that caveat in mind I picked up a can (yes, a can) of Berried Alive from Longwood BrewPub in Nanaimo, British Columbia.


Berried Alive


The Beer-dict

Berried Alive pours a bright raspberry colour with great clarity and some off-white foamy head. A huge fruity nose all sweet and earthy and one of the most berry berry beers I have ever tried. That is to say a lot of raspberry flavour comes through while you drink it, so much in fact that at times I felt some of the beer part of the equation was being drowned out. At the same time the raspberry is not cloying or artifical, it has that subtle sweetness and hint of tart that speaks to the real deal. Quite light-bodied at 5% ABV, clean drinking and thirst quenching when it is cold. The finish hints at a the ale underneath imparting a slight hoppiness and, well, more berry. Overall a nice treat now and then but definitely not a beer that would make it into regular rotation but hey that’s why it is a seasonal right!

One other thought I liked to toss out there, while drinking this beer, even after de-canning it (i.e. pouring it in a glass) I feel like some of the can taste lingers. Most likely this is all in my head stemming from my early childhood phobia of drinking anything from a can believing it tasted like aluminum but nonetheless given the choice, and I am usually given a choice in the beer I consume, I will continue to choose a bottle over a can.

Summertime and the Drinking is Easy

Last year at this time I wrote an ode to the humble lager, long-time ball park staple and ubiquitous summer brew of choice for those wanting something thirst quenching, ice-cold and somewhat embodying sunshine in a glass. But as all good beer geeks know there are many other options at the lighter end of the spectrum that make equally good summer drinking.


Tuff Lite Lime


Putting the obvious IPA aside, when it is a hot humid dog-dangling kind of afternoon and your thoughts turn to the beer fridge think pilsner, kolsch, hefeweizen, fruit beer, porters or sour beer for something just a little outside the box. Each of these choices retaining a lighter bodied quality that makes them hot weather compatible while at the same time offering something just a little bit more than your basic lager.

Some of my summer stock includes Mill Street Brewing’s Lemon Tea Beer, Anchor Brewing Liberty Ale, Unibroue Ephemere Cerise, Tofino Brewing Tuff Lite Lime and Swans Brewing Company Coconut Porter.


Ephemere Cerise


Mill Street Lemon Tea Beer 

A light almost tepid beer that tastes somewhere between ice tea and a summer ale. Very refreshing and simple, I think this makes an excellent starter beer for your BBQ or for sipping under your patio lanterns. Hoping they bring this one out in six-packs in the BC area.

Anchor Liberty Ale

A malt forward ale that also has a decent amount of hoppiness. A bit more body than some of my other summer selections, Liberty Ale is a  great example of the style. No frills, no fruits, no weird flavour combinations; it is what it is and what it is is a really good beer.

Unibroue Ephemere Cerise

Ephemere apple is one of my favourite summer beers so I was quite excited to see a cherry version on the shelves this summer. Unibroue never disappoints on the Belgian beer style but the addition of cherry was a bit of a miss for me. While the apple adds a tartness the cherry flavour just seemed artificial, like cherry candy or cough syrup, and the beer had an almost chalky taste.

Tofino Tuff Lite Lime

Putting a Simpsons’ style label on this beer meant I was going to buy it no matter what, throw in the cheeky wordplay on the nefarious Bud Light with Lime and I may just have to purchase stock options. This may be one of the lightest bodied beers I have had in a long time; clean drinking with a hint of lime this beer it exactly what it claims to be. Another great starter beer when you want something easy.

Swans Coconut Porter

For those who just cannot part ways with their beloved dark beers coconut porter is a great summer option. Lighter bodied but still retaining some roasted malt character the sweetness of the coconut literally makes this beer scream summer, sunscreen and sipping. Also, if everyone else around you breaks out the pina coladas you’ll have you very own beery version.


Liberty Ale

I’m Dreaming of a Weiss Christmas

Behind door number four…


We have Soft Xmas aka Pretty Please with a Cherry on Top from Evil Twin Brewing. A imperial stout from the denizens of doing things a little differently.

According to the brewers, “If Christmas is a tough one for you, Soft Xmas will definitely sweeten dark times of endless caroling, abundance of food and difficult domestic obligations”.


The tradition of putting tangerines in stockings comes from 12th-century French nuns who left socks full of fruit, nuts and tangerines at the houses of the poor.

Evil Twin Soft Xmas


Soft Xmas pours a deep black brown with lots of thick mocha coloured head. There is vanilla, malt and heavy liqour note on the nose. This one is medium bodied with a smooth mouth feel that makes this beer deceptively drinkable for a 10.9% beer. The flavours are big rich malt and winter spices. The spiciness continued through to the finish. As it warms to room temperature Soft Xmas opens up a lot bringing more of the liqour character to the forefront. An excellent winter warmer and a beer that really says Christmas through and through.


Soft Xmas is setting the candy cane bar high with nine out of a possible ten.

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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.

Revisiting Früli Two Years On…

The Original Post from June 28th 2010

So this is the first beer I have chosen to review for a couple of reasons; first, it’s officially summer and nothing says summer like strawberries and second, this beer literally stopped me in my tracks when I saw the description in the window of a local restaurant.  I love white beers and I love fruit beers so combining the two makes it twice as great right?  Well short answer yes with an ‘if’ and long answer no with a ‘but’…this beer looks amazing in the glass a dark pinkish colour and very effervescent.  It smells wonderful as well.  It is easy to drink and excellent when served very cold.  It is quite sweet and light on the alcohol, basically if beer was a made into a cocktail it would be Früli.  To be honest I would be hard pressed to label this a beer during a blind taste test.  At first swig I thought I would never tire of drinking this beer however I soon found that I had a tolerance for about two before I started to feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer sweetness of it.  Additionally, I did not find this beer paired well with food (or at least the foods I was consuming at the time things somewhat more savoury and acidic).  I have had this beer in draft form and by the bottle and while there is no a huge discernable difference I slightly prefer the draft form.  This is the perfect après or after dinner sipper best enjoyed on a hot night after a long day at the beach and sitting on a patio surrounded by beautiful smelling flowers.

Out of a possible five I would give this beer a 4.5


And Now?

Two years later and I am looking back at this post and thinking, well, what was I thinking? I cannot believe how much my beer tastes have changed in two years; the evolution of the beer geek merits scientific study or at least a PhD dissertation. It is not that I hate fruit beers or that I think Früli is too trendy but I just no longer like the taste -too sweet, too light and too strawberry. As a gung-ho enthusiast two years back I bought an entire case from the BC liqour store thinking I would never tire of this beer. About one third of my way into the case, and countless craft brews later, I was trying to figure out ways to alter Früli to make it more palatable. Lo and behold I found out that a touch of Fruli went lovely with a robust coffee/chocolate stout and added a touch of sweetness to a crisp lager or pils. So thankfully my case was not a total write-off.


Looking back I find my original post pretty amusing but also immensely useful in charting how my tastes have developed along certain lines leading me to finally feel secure in knowing what it is I like and more importantly what I want in a beer.


What beers were your first loves? How do you remember them tasting? How do they taste to you now?

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