A popular trend in the brewing world is brewing with, or flavoring the suds, with fruit. Reporters Cindy Nevitt and Sara Tracey went head-to-head on their opinions on the sweeter treats. What do you think?
ANTI-FRUIT BEER: Cindy Nevitt
For some reason, more and more fruits have begun showing up in beer.
Let’s establish immediately what a bad idea this is. Just because some brewer did it once doesn’t make it an act worth repeating.
But in a world where original thought is as rare as a well-made, mass-produced American beer, and in an industry where such trends as red beer, ice beer and low-carb beer were once enthusiastically embraced, it is no mystery why manufacturers have jumped on the fruit-beer bandwagon.
Highly suggestible people are buying it by the case. In some instances, by the very expensive case.
Peaches, coconuts, lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and (gag) watermelon are sullying perfectly good beers under the mistaken belief they are welcome to do so because it is summer.
Wrong. Just wrong, wrong, wrong.
I am not anti-fruit. But I am anti-fruit beer.
Fruit has its place, like in still-life paintings. Cranberries have no reason leaving the bog unless they’re going to ride shotgun with turkey. Citrus belongs freshly squeezed in a glass, served alongside a plate of bacon and eggs.
I would not eat a bowl of strawberries washed down with a beer. So why would I drink beer with berries in it?
In the classic John Ford film, “The Quiet Man,” Barry Fitzgerald’s character takes a stand for beverage purists everywhere when he refuses to add water to his whiskey, saying, “When I drink whiskey, I drink whiskey. And when I drink water, I drink water.”
Imagine how he’d react to a cold brew tainted with lemonade.
Drinking fruit beer tastes like eating a dessert that has had ale spilled in it, or swallowing cough medicine with yeast and hops in it.
To someone who grew up with a shot-and-a-beer grandfather and a father who only drank Rolling Rock, fruity beers are an abomination. Trying to convert me to the pinky-finger-extended culture of these pseudo-beers is a fruitless endeavor. My taste buds, which appreciate craft beers and microbrews that don’t taste like Popsicles, will not be corrupted just because the product is marketed as a shandy or a “blonde.”
I know what it is and it isn’t a keg I’ll be tapping.
In light of the fruit beer battle columns by reporters Cindy Nevitt and Sara Tracey, here is a gallery of BeerAdvocate.com-approved fruity brews.
PRO-FRUIT BEER: Sara Tracey
This is a very exciting time for beer lovers.
Craft brewing is ratcheting up the sudsy scene, giving consumers more than the golden corn water that anchored red cups in a game of beer pong.
When it comes to fruit, we’re so beyond the slice of orange as a garnish. And we should be happy about it.
For a couple years, I lived in Utica, New York, home of the F.X. Matt Brewing Company and the Saranac beer family. On Saranac Thursdays, the brewery would host bands and sample out their drafts. The one I’d always start my night with was the Blueberry Blonde Ale. Not too sweet, not too heavy, it’s a delicious example of Goldilocks syndrome.
Think about it — fruit-esque flavors are already in quite a few of the brews you drink. Advertisements tell you about the fruity, citrusy hops and the sweet malts.
Fruit in beer is an evolution, not a cloying revolution. Lower alcohol-by-volume levels, trendy now, mean the burn is gone. You can actually taste the flavors in your glass, enjoying them in the haze of sunset, not the haze of a one-bottle buzz.
And the drink doesn’t just have to be a summer thing, the hot-weather equivalent of raspberry lemonade. Orange stouts and banana porters are great in colder weather. You can find a fruity beer to complement — not ruin — any meal, or just enjoy it by itself.
Aren’t we the Garden State? We should embrace our local, inventive brewers using fruit. Pinelands Brewing Co. has a Hammonton blueberry ale; Cape May Brewing Company has brews made with beach plums and cranberries; Tuckahoe Brewing Company just released an apricot sour ale.
Fruit beer isn’t a new thing: The Belgian lambic, a fruit-heavy (typically raspberry) and wild yeast-fermented beer, has been around for centuries. Brewers making fruity additions to their suds aren’t trying to start a silly trend, they’re preserving beer history.
Professionals also have my back: The Home Brewers Association named fruit beer its Style of the Month for July. The Beer Judge Certification Program updated its guidelines to fill out its section on fruit beer.
And c’mon. If you can get some servings of fruit without having to chew, let’s get on that.
A fruit beer can appeal to a lot of imbibers. You like wine? Wine’s got fruit. You like cider? Apples are a fruit. You like mixed drinks? Well, looky here, some of these beers are made with actual fruit, not some chemically laced syrup the bartender is dousing your Bahama Mama with.
I’ve always been an advocate of “try something before you snub it.” If you say you won’t like fruit beer, try the multitudes that are coming onto area the shelves. Chances are, you’ll bite.