One fast way to pick the beer snob out of a crowd is to see who knows how to say raspberry, cheery and peach in Flemish (the answer is frambozen, kriek and peche). Unlike the Germans whose ancient purity laws (the Reinheitsgebot was enacted in 1516 and replaced with the Provisional Beer Law in 1993) keep a strict lid on what brewers can put in their beer, the Belgians will experiment with any damn thing and fruit has worked out very well for them:
Usually based on lambik beers, [fruit beers] are a particular Belgian speciality. They can be made in a variety of ways, but the most traditional is to add whole fruit to barrels of beer undergoing their long secondary fermentation.. The fruit sugars start fermenting and by the end of the process the fruit will have almost totally disappeared. Beers made by this method, though they may well have quite a strong aroma of the fruit, are often remarkably unfruity in taste. Neither are they sweet, as a result of the fruit having spent a long time fermenting and maturing with the beer.
The best are delightfully subtle combinations of beer, wine and cider that are almost as difficult to describe and categorise as they are delicious to drink. Cantillon Kriek (cherry) and, if you are lucky enough to ever find it, Cantillon Frambozen (raspberry) are the very pinnacle of the brewing art.
Raspberry beer, frambozens, seem to appear most often because the rasbperry has a tart, mild sweetness that translates very well to beer. I have fond memories of the New Belgium frambozen, which shocked the hell out of the college-age me for lacking the cloying sweetness that Americans expect in fruit-flavored alcoholic beverages.
In fact, New Belgium had brewed one of the most unique and delicious things I had ever tried at that time. Unfortunately you’ll have to look for it in the western US between October and December.
In Belgium proper you’ll find an intimidating array of styles and brewers. The Lindemans brewery has staked a reputation as a maker of excellent fruit beers, and if your bar carries Belgian beer you shouldn’t have a hard time finding the Lindeman’s Framboise.
Today’s non-beer alternative is a gratuitous shout-out for the bottle of Talisker 10 yr. that my wife bought me for Christmas. I am in heaven.
Yes, I’ve heard [of Talisker]. Kills men by the hundreds. And if HE were here,
he’d consume the English with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning
from his arse
Lindeman’s Framboise is one of my favorite alcoholic drinks and I don’t even drink beer.
The Other Steve
UNREPEAL THE VOLSTEAD ACT!
Drinking is a sin! It’s bad for you! Skying down Mountain slopes while wasted isn’t a good thing!
The Ghost of Volstead
I’m glad Tim’s recommending one of the two or three raspberry beers that are easy to find in my local liquor stores.
Does anyone know if the Framboise is available anywhere in Seattle?
I half agree with Other Steve up there: There’s a sin involved here, if it’s not drinking itself. Namely, while I don’t even keep kosher (beyond the automatic no-pork, no-shellfish, no-meat-with-dairy part logically entailed by vegetarianism), nevertheless I think there’s a strong biblical argument that combining fruit and beer is prohibited by Leviticus. It’s supposed to be bitter! That’s how God intended it!
Bitter, bitches indeed. Heretical bastards. And this unseemly simpering about Talisker! Hae ye no heard o’ The MacAllan, ye Sassenach sumph?
I think “pabst” means “shit” in Flemish…but I could be wrong. I mean, it is an award winning beer…
I am partial to my former local brewery’s Blueberry Ale. It is from Blue Point Brewery in Patchogue, NY. A little more commercial but still great is Sam Adam’s Cherry Wheat.
Talisker is some great stuff. Lucky you, John, because there used to be only one store that sold it here in Hawaii for a decent price – but that store closed.
If you ever get the chance, try Dalwhinnie. 15 year aged single malt. My favorite…
Like that cat in the previous thread.
Raspberry ale is awesome. There’s a pub 2 hours away from me that makes their own house raspberry ale, and it’s excellent stuff.
Bob In Pacifica
I’m not such a big fruit-flavored beer drinker. I used to like the Annie Green Springs and Spanada wines when I was younger and we drank back in the graveyard.
But if in fact I decided to buy fruit-flavored beer for the playoffs tomorrow, which one would go better with cheese-flavored popcorn? You know, with the white cheese-flavored popcorn?
The Other Steve
I prefer salt and butter.
Phillip J. Birmingham
Remember, not all frambozen are created equal. If you’re used to Lindemann’s or Timmermann’s frambozen, Cantillion will come as quite a shock to you. I had one about ten years ago, and it was intensely tart — a bit too much for me. Kriek Boon is my favorite, I’d say.
All nice single malts!
What about Macallan 12, 18 or–mmmmm–25?
Laphroig (actually, this one is not my cup of tea, but my husband is very fond of it)?
And there’s also a Glenrothes (16 year when bought) in the liquor cabinet–purchased in honor of our birth in 2,000–well, more precisely in honor of my husband becoming a father, with the idea of his taking a wee nip on each of the kid’s childhood birthdays. (No, we don’t share the single-malt with the kid, of course! Let him grow up, get a job, and buy his own darn luxuries.)
I see we’re a couple of hours past cocktail hour …
I haven’t been myself, but Bottleworks in Seattle has a great reputation for having just about every kind of beer available in Seattle. So I would check there first.
All the beers mention are based on lambics, spontaneously fermented beers brewed around Brussels. There also is a tradition in Belgium of Krieks made with a base of sour brown ale: Liefmans Kriek ths probably the mostly widely distributed (and one of the best). They also make a Gluhkriek which is designed to be served warm (think “hot mulled beer”) — it sounds strange but is quite nice on a cold night.
That being said, though, I do like the lambic based ones better. Lindemans, Chappeau (de Troch), Mort Subite, Belle Vue tend to be on the sweeter side. Boon, Cantillion, Oud Beersel, Giradan, Drie Fonteinen tend to be more sour (some intensley so)
Gluhkriek and Talisker made last night very interesting and this morning very ill.