Monday 30 April 2007

Feeling Fruity?

It would seem the description of Timmermans Peche in my Rake's Progress post got lots of people's juices flowing and I've been asked for more advice on fruit beers, so here goes.

Fruit beers fall broadly into two categories: those that are lambic-based and those that aren't. This divide also allows me to explain the term lambic, which was another question someone asked me - see, there is a pinch of thought behind this blogging business, I promise you.

The lambic style of brewing is just plain weird - seriously, when you first hear about it you check the calendar to make sure it's not an April Fool - because it's basically done by magic.

All right, maybe not magic but you can understand how, historically, people thought it was. Basically there are areas all over the world where natural wild yeast flourishes (no one is exactly sure why though) and if you leave the basic beer porridge out in the open it will spontaneously ferment and, hey presto, beer appears!

The thing is, it produces pretty sour beer (which I like but then I liked those super sour jaw breakers and cola bottles when I was kid too) but it makes it the ideal base to be sweetened up with fruit.

Great examples of this style are the Lindeman's fruit beers, which I personally prefer over the BelleVue.

Other fruit beers outside the lambic category range from the Yorkshire offering of Sam Smith's Organic Cherry Beer and bizarre Belgians - which include the smoothie-esque Fruli and super-sweet Floris Passion, Apple or Fraise.

Personally I like Liefman's as they aren't too sweet - the Kriek (cherry) version is perfect with venison carpaccio, dark chocolate desserts or even with pork. The Frambozen (raspberry) is definitely more a dessert beast, but also goes quite well with duck in port sauce as it cuts through the unctuous nature of the meat. You can get both these beers in most big supermarkets or your local off licence.

The Sam Smith's Cherry Beer is an honest to goodness cherry pop - you wouldn't have the first clue that it was alcoholic but, don't be fooled, it weighs in at 5.2% and can put you on your bum if you disrespect it!

Fruli, at 4.1%, is a wheat beer with a massive amount of strawberry puree in it, in fact so much that it's unrecognisable as a beer and tastes more like a smoothie - perfect for non-beer drinkers really.

The Floris beers are flavoured with syrups, which comes through in the quite sugary mouthfeel and, to my mind, slightly chemical flavour but they do have a huge following none the less.

So, hopefully, this brief romp through the more commonly available beers will inspire you next time you're feeling fruity!


Stonch said...


Although they've got that sour taste, Liefmans beers aren't actually lambics. The base beer (sold without fruit as Liefmans Goudenband) is an Oud Bruin/Flemish Sour.

I think what they do at Liefmans is deliberately introduce Brettanomyces yeast (you call the little fellas Brett for short, they're pretty informal) to the already partially fermented beer to produce that effect. It isn't a wild fermentation, though it's a great beer whichever way you look at it. Try it after a few years in a corked champagne bottle for maximum effect.


Melissa Cole said...

That'll teach me to write with a hangover! I meant to say Cantillon not Liefmans and I clearly completely lost my thread - I have now amended accordingly and I thank you!

Unknown said...

Hi Melissa, great blog!

As an introduction to proper lambic-based fruit beers you can do no better than to try the Boon range - you can get them at Utobeer in Borough Market. There's a kriek, a framboise and an Oude Kriek.

Melissa Cole said...

Thanks Emma that's very kind of you, I'm going to have to re-visit fruit beers as I've had sooo many questions and comments emailed to me that I need to go more in-depth!

Anonymous said...

I recommend Duchesse de Bourogne. It's a delicious Belgian blend that taste reminiscent of sour apples. I also recommend Lindemans Lambic Kriek and Lindemans Lambic Framboise, although they add fruit flavoring so it's not quite as "pure." It's a bit sacreligous, but I've also tried the Lindemans Framboise mixed 1:1 with Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Don't tell anybody I did that, though. (I do NOT recommend the Lindemans Peche--tastes like cough syrup).