Fruit Beers for the Season

Image courtesy alibaba.com

Written by Johnathan Harder for Planet Weekly

(Note: when used in beer, pumpkin is considered a vegetable; entered in Category 21: spice/herb/vegetable-PGA)

You can brew beer with just about anything and as the craft beer movement progresses we will see more and more foodstuffs dropped into the fermentation tank to put a new spin on beer. Fruit in beer is nothing new but…..

You can brew beer with just about anything and as the craft beer movement progresses we will see more and more foodstuffs dropped into the fermentation tank to put a new spin on beer. Fruit in beer is nothing new but the skill with which it is being used is reaching a pretty nice level. I thought the warm weather was gone for good and we had moved solidly into fall…apparently not. So in the hopes that the cool weather returns I picked a pumpkin beer to review. Being the realist I am I know that the warmth could stick around for a bit longer so I also chose a nice tart cherry ale as well.

Just because Founders Brewing webpage says that their Cerise Cherry Fermented Ale (6.5 ABV) is only available from July until August does not mean it should not be enjoyed in the cooler months. I am sure there are still some bottles available in the beer shops around town. The brewers of Cerise add fresh Michigan cherries at different times during fermentation. Staggering the addition allows for a more balanced flavor. The earlier the cherries are added the more time the yeast has to ferment the sugar in them and lower the sweetness of the finished beer. So to attain a nice balance of sweet to tart the cherries are added at five separate stages. This beer has a color somewhere between cherry red and plum with a nice pink head and a slight haze. The aroma is full of fresh Bing Cherries with a touch of yeasty bread and baked cherry pie. There is also a nice hint of lavender. There is a nice sparkling effervescence that lightens the flavors as sweet cherry fruit fills the mid palate. These flavors carry all the way through to the finish. Unlike some other cherry ales this one is not at all medicinal in flavor. There is a balanced sweetness that never becomes cloying. It would be a perfect accompaniment to any chocolate dessert.

Samuel Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin Ale is simply a pumpkin pie turned up to eleven and stuffed into a bottle. It has a dark rich amber color with a prominent frothy tan head. It has a pumpkin pie nose full of the aromas of roasted pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. To put it another way this beer is Thanksgiving in a glass. The ample effervescence is balanced out by the full body mouth feel of this high gravity beer (8.5% ABV). The pumpkin and spice flavors are all there on the palate and accompanied by some subtle smokey notes. This beer tastes like a wonderful pumpkin pie baked in a wood-burning stove. Some delightful gingerbread notes linger on the tongue after the sip is gone. I cannot wait to bring this beer to the Thanksgiving table as I imagine it will fit right in. A nice side effect of the alcohol level is that this beer leaves the belly nice and warm as if I just finished an ample slice of fresh-baked pumpkin pie.

So it seems that instead of beers this week I found two wonderfully baked pies that just happen to come in bottles. These are just two of the many examples of fruit beers available on the market today. Just like the fruit that is used to produce them these beers are seasonal so grab them while you can.