“No fish, no fruit.”
It’s a pretty straightforward policy — one that I held for many years and applied to both pizza and beer. (A personal Reinheitsgebot if you will.) It still holds for pizza, but over the years I’ve modified it for beer to allow certain fruits — sour apples, cherries, grapes are allowed, but keep your damned limes to yourself. (As for fish, I’ll accept a on the label, but that’s as close as I want it to the beer itself.)
Molly’s standards, on the other hand, aren’t rearly so restrictive. She especially likes sweet, fruity beers as they blend well with her taste for dark porters and stouts. She has one concoction that’s one part Lindeman’s Framboise and one part Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. “Tastes like a raspberry cheesecake!” she says. (“Ick,” I say. I like my cheesecake in solid form.)
I, on the other hand, can’t stand the sweet as it reminds me of the Bartles & James wine coolers we used to drink when we were young and interested more in the effect than the flavor. On the other hand, when a brewer does something beyond simply tossing fruit in beer — souring, spicing, smoking, etc. — then I get interested.
Much of our exposure to interesting fruit styles can be credited to Tomme Arthur and his peculiar ability to make just about anything taste good in beer, as well as fair number of beer-enthusiast and homebrewing friends with a willingness to brew anything at least once.
Sour beers seem to draw me the most. I like the way the way spicy, fruity aromas waft upward right after the pour. I like that first taste of tartness that initially challenges the malt’s thick sweetness, but finally blends with it in a flavor profile that has all my taste buds firing at once. Done right, it’s a complex style that demands sipping rather than drinking.
That having been said, fruit beers are neither Molly’s nor my favorites. It could be that living in San Diego means it’s always fruit season, so the flavors aren’t all that exotic. It could be that you don’t find many on tap, so when we’re out wandering the pubs we don’t get enough exposure. It might also be that really good fruit beers are so few and far between the style kind of bores us. Then again it could be that fruit beer’s just not our style.
Hmm — I think I’ll ponder this over a nice glass of Compunction. Cheers!
(Hat tip to Greg Clow at Beer, Beats & Bites for hosting this month’s Session.)