It's fair to say most beer-drinkers have a love-hate relationship to fruit beers. I imagine it stems from the 1990s when all fruit beers in America were basically wheat beers that were dosed with fruit. That is definitely not the case today, so doldrums be gone. Currently, fruited beers are far more adventurous, taking their cues from popular styles like IPAs and golden strong ales. This new batch uses the fruit to accent, not overwhelm.
If you've been away from the fruity side, I have some solid local examples that just might bring you back to the orchard:
Epic Brewing Co.'s Brainless on Peaches
The peach is evident right off the bat as the skin-toned/golden-hued liquid looks as peachy as if it had come straight from the tree—the nose shows peach and chardonnay immediately and apple and pear from the yeast linger beneath, with notes of wood and white pepper.
Taste wise, the peach deliver a pleasant tannic and acidic sweetness. Caramel malts come next, creating a ghostly cobbler-ish taste that is pleasant and familiar. The end is all vinous wine and wood notes from the barrel, adding some acidic balance to the malts. The finish is dry and prickly.
Verdict: Epic's wine-barrel-aged peach beer relies on the orchard fruit and wine-like character to carry it. Some of the yeast's spicy character gets a little lost behind the peach and chardonnay, but it doesn't detract from the enjoyment. For an 11 percent fruit beer, it's surprisingly light and summer-like.
Gineva by Red Rock Brewing
Pours a golden yellow color with a slight bit of haze. The nose starts on the malty side along with a dose of peppery yeast; some juniper and wood aroma is also noticeable along with a slight earthy hoppiness. The taste reveals much of the same, with subtle malts that have an almost pistachio-like quality. The juniper now begins to make itself known. The berry isn't overly pervasive, but fruit essence lingers on the sides of the tongue, rounding out the flavors from the grains. Some tartness from the juniper becomes more apparent as the palate adjusts to fruit transition. As far as the end goes, it's fruity and peppery and finishes semi-dry.
Verdict: Clocking in at 5.5 percent ABV, the addition of fruit rounds out the Belgian-ale base and creates and old world flavor that reminds me of a time before hops. If you're a fan of the style, it'll definitely work for you. However, the lack of hop character won't exactly endure itself to the IPA crowd.
Uinta Brewing Co.'s Hop Nosh Tangerine
This American IPA pours out an orange amber color with a nice bubbly white head. The nose is rich with citrus peel and hops that echo the same. The taste begins with a smack of tangerine and hops. It makes way for some smooth earthy grains that are on the verge of sweet. The fruit purée here adds more than just tangerine. You really get the pith as well as the peel, too. It finishes bitter and dry.
Verdict: There is a lot happening in this fruity IPA. The base beer has a masterfully balanced blend of malt and hops. The tangerine picks up its cues from there, and never overpowers. The 7.3 percent ABV keeps it all in check providing a nice medium body.
The bottom line: Fruited beers are huge right now and summer is the perfect time to get to know these and other local enhanced ales and lagers, so don't be afraid to walk on the fruity side. As always, cheers!