- Mike Riedel
Berries have been part of making beer since there have been ... well, berries and beer. The techniques might have changed over the years, but not the love for these sturdy vine fruits. Here are some nice examples of berry-forward ales that are contemporary without ignoring tradition.
Roosters Brewing Co. Blackberry Cream: The beer is copper-gold and slightly hazy, with berry-infused hues. Two fingers of fizzy head sit atop but diminish fairly quickly. The blackberry aromas are fairly subtle, but not any less subtle than most other flavors that could be screaming out to my nose here. The hops and malts are blended well, but the berry is the dominating aroma. Once on the tongue, blackberry sweetness and doughy malts show first. The flavors complement each other pretty well and form a balance of sweet versus bitter that goes back and forth throughout. The blackberry is easy to find but subtle, and the entire beer is very light to the taste. I can't tell whether the flavor is real or artificial, but overall, it tastes fine. The carbonation is slightly above average, but not overwhelming. The beer runs medium crisp and is lightly thin. The blackberry finish only grows more intense, and the tart bitterness of the beer leaves the palate dry.
Overall: I kind of liked the opposites in the nose and taste, and I'm OK with the overly obvious berry flavors and smells. I think if the title of a beer specifies an ingredient, that ingredient should be obvious. All in all, this is a very drinkable beer—especially as a 6 percent alcohol spring sipper.
Squatters Raspberry Coco Stout: This beer was poured from a nitrogen tap at the Utah Brewers Cooperative. It's got a rich dark brown hue that looks black. Atop are a tight two fingers of light tan head that have a lot of resilience. The aromas include chocolate with a very subtle raspberry blend up front. The flavors are much as expected from the nose, but with chocolate up front, backed up by a restrained use of raspberries. There's also a light touch of roasted malt and bitterness from the roast. Mingled into the flavor is some fruity tartness that takes its cue from the raspberries. There doesn't seem to be any real hop bitterness. The 4 percent alcohol is well concealed and doesn't really contribute to the flavor. The raspberry becomes more pronounced as it warms.
The mouthfeel is on the light side, with the creamy nitrogen gas making it rounder. It has a medium-long finish that begins as the chocolate and roasted malt recede further into the background, leaving the raspberry, with a light sweetness and touch of tartness that slowly follow. Finally, there is again some dark-roasted bitterness that becomes tinged with a dry hint of the raspberry in the back of the palate.
Overall: This is a very well-made beer that I'm very much enjoying, and one I certainly expect to have again. If you think you might enjoy chocolate-covered raspberries, but don't like too-sweet treats, this is recommended.
The Raspberry Coco Stout originated out of Squatters' SLC brewpub but can be found at the majority of Squatters Pub and Wasatch Brewery locations that offer a nitro tap. The higher ABV of Roosters' Blackberry Cream relegates it to Roosters' new B Street Brewery in Ogden. It's definitely worth the trek. As always, cheers!