- Mike Riedel
Put down that peanut butter and jelly sandwich and listen up. The mad scientists ... er, brewers at Shades Brewing Company have a new mind-bender for you to try, and it comes from one of our classic childhood food memories.
Shades PB&J with Blueberry: This beer pours a visually dense ruby, almost purple-and-crimson hue, and is quite turbid. A dainty pinkish, loose foam rises and falls quickly, filling the nose with jaw-tightening aromas of blueberry jam, green apple and a citrus medley with a gentle waft of nuttiness.
Its taste is just as jelly-like; filled with blueberry and a sweeter overall cobbler attitude—fruity, light, tart and highly redolent of childhood lunches. This PB&J provides a sweet and sour flavor with hints of berry jam, peanut butter and toast to go along with the creamy wheat. supporting the natural souring power of kveik-fermentation for a medley of tastes that's slightly acidic and complex.
Its maltiness drops from underneath and allows the blueberry flavor to command the middle palate. This provides sharp flavors of lime and lemon with cider, white wine and the robust tang of red grape. But it's the peanut butter additions that give a robust sweet flare to the taste, allowing it to read like a richer sangria character through much of the session.
Overall: Crisp, refreshing, but also sweet, the beer's fruit taste is a little work on the palate, with a higher rate of residual sweetness that's common for Shades' Kveik ales. Creamy and acidic, its thirst-quenching properties trail shortly in aftertaste with a finish of rounded saltwater taffy, and a soft afterglow of whole wheat and stewed berries.
Shades PB&J Raspberry: Pours a dense-looking purplish red, with zero head formation. I see bubbles trying to make their way to the top, but it's just not happening. I poured a little more than half of the 12-ounce can into my glass, and for the most part you get a strong syrupy-looking density and about 80 percent opacity. The nose initially was predominantly a sweet and jammy whiff of grape and raspberry jelly; the peanut butter was lying dormant, and finishing off the liquid into my glass strengthened the aroma.
Just as noted above, this taste is just a straight-up PB&J sandwich, which is so much fun to drink. The fruit in this one is noticeably more assertive than the blueberry; I attribute most of that to the raspberry's heartier nature. The Kveik yeast adds some balancing tartness to the berries, which helps it stay out of that puckering territory. The peanut butter isn't nearly as strong as the fruit, but it doesn't have to be, due to its full-bodied nature. The mouthfeel is something quite unique, and given the opposing flavors that are present, your tongue is pulled back and forth between nutty confections and sorbet. The carbonation is mild.
Overall: A tasty brew. Being 6.5 percent ABV, this won't completely knock you on your ass—which is good, because you'll just want to keep drinking this one since it's so delicious, distinctive and fun. As beer gimmicks go, this one actually keeps the drinker in that realm of the food it's copying. Really well-executed, though it lacks the balance of its above-mentioned sibling.
These beers may be a problem for some because of the ingredient list. Peanut allergies? Then it's not for you. Not an animal-product-ingester? This does have a bit of lactose in it, so if your diet does not include these two ingredients, stick with the beer classics. Look for these at Shades, and at your better beer pubs and restaurants along the Wasatch Front. As always, cheers!