Tag Archives: fruit beer

The Session #8: Beer and Food

session-logo-med.jpgI’m sure my tens of readers will be happy to know that I’m still alive. I’ve just been even more busy and/or disorganised than ever these past few weeks. Hence the continuing lack of posts.

I couldn’t miss a Session, though. If I did, they might take away my membership in the sooper-seekrit beer bloggers cabal or something.

The theme of this month’s edition – as chosen by the poetically-inclined Captain Hops at Beer Haiku Daily – is Beer and Food, which gives me the incentive to finally get around to posting about an interesting tasting I hosted a couple of weeks ago in a somewhat unlikely location.

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The Session #6: Fruit Beer

OK, here’s the thing: When I selected fruit beer as the theme for this month’s instalment of The Session (that beer-blog round-up thingie that a bunch of us do on the first Friday of every month, and that I’m hosting for August), I did so in anticipation of the pending arrival of Liefmans Kriekbier as part of the LCBO‘s summer beers promotion. I loved this beer when I first tried it a couple of years ago, and was looking forward to downing a couple of bottles to see if it’s as good as I remembered, and to write about it for The Session.

However, the beer – along with its non-fruited counterpart, Liefmans Goudenband – never showed, leaving me at a bit of a loss as to what beer I would write about it. After all, as my fellow Ontarian Stephen Beaumont mentions in one of his contributions to the Session, there are very few fruit beers produced up here, and only a couple of imported examples on our LCBO and Beer Store shelves. But I guess the beer gods were smiling on me, as I managed to get my hands on three new fruit beers in the past week, giving me a lot to write about after all.

The first was a beer that came in as a part of the now Liefmans-free LCBO release: Chapeau Banana Lambic from Belgium’s Brouwerij De Troch. The Chapeau line-up consists mainly of highly sweetened and strangely flavoured lambics, and my past experiences with other Chapeau beers like Exotic (pineapple) and Mirabelle (plum) had been, shall we say, less than stellar. But in the case of the Banana, I was surprisingly not offended by it. In fact, I kinda liked it, and even picked it as my Beer of the Week over on Taste T.O. this week. Here’s a bit of what I wrote about it there:

The aroma is a combination of those marshmellow banana candies I used to like as a kid (yeah, you know the ones I mean), mixed with a slight lambic funkiness. (My wife also found notes of strawberry, melon and kiwi.) The body is sticky, and not very refreshing, which is a common fault in sweetened fruit beers (or any overly sweetened drink, for that matter). The flavour is quite sweet off the top, although it tastes more like real banana than the candyish aroma suggests, and there’s a pleasant tartness peeking through in the finish.

That being said, beers like this are still closer in style to coolers and other alcopops than good quality fruit beers. Which is quite the opposite of the second one I tried thanks to my pal Paul bringing it to a tasting night: Oud Beersel Oude Kriek from the respected Belgian lambic producers Brouwerij F. Boon. This hazy ruby-rose coloured brew is a much more traditional fruit lambic, with the expected funky and musty aroma with notes of sour cherry, wood, old books and mouldy cheese. (Yeah, I know, it doesn’t sound that appealing when I write it, but believe me, it was.) After the aggressive aroma, the flavour was actually a bit of a let down – it was good, very dry and tart with a strong cherry character, but a bit milder than the aroma let on. Still, it’s a classic example of the kriek lambic style, and provided a great contrast to the Chapeau sugarbomb that I drank the night before.

Moving from the Old World to the New, my third fruit beer of the week came to me courtesy of import agents Roland + Russell who dropped off a package of a few of their new offerings for me to sample. It actually contained two fruit beers, but I only had a chance to sample one of them: Southern Tier Raspberry Wheat Ale from Lakewood, NY. While I’m usually underwhelmed by fruit flavoured versions of North American wheat beers, I’d enjoyed pretty much every Southern Tier beer I’d tried before this one, so I had fairly high hopes. Unfortunately, it followed the pattern of it’s style: light golden-yellow colour; lots of fruit and faint malt on the nose; thin, spritzy body; and a mild, lightly fruited flavour. It was certainly refreshing, especially during the nasty heat wave that we’re currently experiencing in Toronto, and I’d take it over the Chapeau Banana any day of the week. But I guess I just expected a bit more oomph from a Southern Tier beer.

So now that I’ve got my own post out of the way, it’s time for me to put on the hosting hat for this month and compile a round-up of the posts that all of my fellow Sessioners have published today (in most cases, in a much more timely manner than yours truly). I’ll get that together over the next day or two, allowing any stragglers to get in on the action before posting the final tally. If you have a contribution to be included, drop me a line or comment on this post.

Tomorrow: The Session!

Just a last minute reminder to my fellow beer bloggers and other interested parties that tomorrow is the August instalment of The Session, the monthly beer blogging round-up that I happen to be hosting this month. This month’s theme, as I announced a while back, is fruit beer.

Given my ridiculous schedule lately, I probably won’t be getting my own post up until fairly late in the day. Those who are more on the ball than me can feel free to email me or reply to this post with a link to their contribution, and I’ll do the obligatory round-up on the weekend (which is a long one in Canada, thankfully).

Beer of the Week – Chapeau Banana

This article was originally written in July 2007 for the food & drink website Taste T.O., and republished here in October 2011 (but back-dated to match the original publication date) after Taste T.O. was shut down and taken offline.

Once a rarity in Ontario, fruit beers have become more common and more popular in recent years, thanks in part to the LCBO’s summer beer promotions which generally spotlight several different fruit-flavoured offerings. These limited releases, as well as those fruit beers that can be found on shelves year round, usually feature such traditional flavours as raspberry (Framboise), cherry (Kriek) and peach (Pêche).

However, these seasonal releases have also featured strange brews that have elicited a hearty “what the HELL??!?” reaction from local beer aficionados. Past years have brought us several remarkably sweet beers from Florisgaarden, a low-alcohol flavoured beer line-up brewed by Belgium’s Brouwerij Huyghe. More recently, our benevolent provincial alcohol overlords have started carrying selections from Chapeau, an imprint used by another Belgian brewery, Brouwerij De Troch, for a series of fruit lambics that range from the traditional to the downright bizarre.

The Chapeau beer featured in this summer’s beer promotion, Chapeau Banana (LCBO 37853, $2.25/250 mL) most definitely falls into the latter category. Although oddly enough, it’s not the first banana-flavoured beer I’ve tried. That honour goes to Wells Banana Bread, a golden ale from England’s Wells & Youngs Brewery that smelled and tasted so much like it’s namesake loaf that it was uncanny, and frankly, a little frightening.

Chapeau Banana, however, is another thing entirely. This is partly because lambics are a unique style of beer created by using a spontaneous fermentation method where the brewing vessels are left open to the wild yeast and bacteria that are distinctive to the area of Belgium where they’re traditionally brewed. This imparts them with a one-of-a-kind flavour that is described as tart, funky and “barnyardy”. The addition of fruit to lambic is common, with sugar often added as well to take some of the edge off, but Chapeau/De Troch goes well beyond the usual Framboise, Kriek and Pêche options and brews with some very strange and unexpected fruits. Like banana.

Surprisingly, though, it kind of works. The aroma is a combination of those marshmellow banana candies I used to like as a kid (yeah, you know the ones I mean), mixed with a slight lambic funkiness. (My wife also found notes of strawberry, melon and kiwi.) The body is sticky, and not very refreshing, which is a common fault in sweetened fruit beers (or any overly sweetened drink, for that matter). The flavour is quite sweet off the top, although it tastes more like real banana than the candyish aroma suggests, and there’s a pleasant tartness peeking through in the finish.

So it’s not a complete disaster, but I’m still not quite sure I see the point of this beer and others like it. It’s too sweet to be refreshing on a hot day, and too weak at 3.5% to have serious appeal to the crowd who like to pound back high octane coolers and alcopops. But the LCBO keeps stocking a couple of examples of the style each summer, so there must be someone buying them, if only for the novelty value. The curious and the candy-addicted alike can find bottles now at select LCBO outlets.

Announcing Session #6

OK, it’s been a week since the last Session took place, and since I’m hosting the next one, I guess it’s about time for me to announce the theme.

First, some background:

2007 seems to be the year of the farmers market in Toronto. We’ve always had a few regular markets in the city, both seasonal and year-round, but there’s been a mini-explosion of new ones this year, including a Sunday morning one in the Liberty Village neighbourhood, just a few minutes from my apartment.

As a result, my wife and I have been eating even more fresh produce than usual this summer. We’re at the Liberty Village market almost every Sunday, and Sheryl also takes trips around the city to check out other markets for the Market Basket feature on our website, Taste T.O..

For the past several weeks, we’ve been gorging on fresh local strawberries and cherries, and have just recently gotten our first taste of the year’s raspberry and blueberry crops. Coming soon will be peaches and plums, and later will be the first crisp, tart apples of the year.

With all of this fruit on the brain (or more accurately, in my belly), it gave me the idea for a theme for Session #6. Therefore, I hereby declare that on Friday, August 3rd, 2007, beer bloggers the world over will be writing about Fruit Beer.

Aside from the stipulation that it be a beer brewed/augmented with fruit (or fruit juice or extract), there are no other rules or guidelines. Anything is fair game, from a tart and funky Kriek or Framboise, to a sugar-laden “lambic”, to a Blueberry Wheat or Raspberry Ale from your local brewpub.

And have some fun with it. After all, it’s the summer! (Well, except for where it’s the winter, but you know what I mean…) Spread the word, enjoy the rest of your July, and check back on August 3rd to report your contribution for the obligatory round-up post.

Beer of the Week – Mill Street Cherry Beer

This article was originally written in June 2007 for the food & drink website Taste T.O., and republished here in October 2011 (but back-dated to match the original publication date) after Taste T.O. was shut down and taken offline.

While I’m usually inclined to reach for a nice dry Pilsner or a hoppy Pale Ale when the weather gets warmer, I can understand the increased popularity of fruit beers in the summer months. Their fresh and lively flavours are a reminder of the warm weather harvest, and the often complex combination of sweetness and tartness that is found in many better quality fruit beers can be quite refreshing on a hot day.

So it makes sense that the folks at Mill Street would choose to make a cherry beer as the first summer seasonal at their brewpub. (Although I suppose the fact that they had a raspberry beer available during the early spring sort of ruins the “summer = fruit beer” angle I’m playing up here, doesn’t it? Damn.)

I’d been looking forward to this beer since my first visit to the pub when I saw it listed as a Kriek in the rotating seasonals section of the beer menu. Traditionally, Kriek is a variation on the Belgian Lambic style, with sour cherries added during fermentation. The result is a lip-smackingly tart beer that is one of my favourite styles, especially in the summer, and I was really curious to try a local take on it.

Unfortunately, when I stopped by the pub last week to give it a try, I discovered that what they ended up producing isn’t a Kriek at all, but rather a cherry-laced version of a fairly standard UK-style ale.

Once I got over my initial disappointment, though, I found it to be a fairly nice quaff. It has a distinct reddish tinge to the colour and a fairly still body with very little head. The aroma and flavour are both sweet, but not cloying, with a good balance of slightly fruity malt and fresh cherry. Some mellow hops come though in the finish – enough to be briefly noticeable, but not enough to seriously interfere with the primary malt and cherry characteristics.

I guess I’ll have to wait impatiently for Liefmans Kriek to hit LCBO shelves later this summer so I can get my sour fruit beer fix. But in the meantime, the Mill Street Cherry Beer is a pleasant diversion that I’ll be happy to try again during any further visits I may make to the Distillery District this summer.

Beer of the Week – Great Lakes Orange Peel Ale

This article was originally written in May 2007 for the food & drink website Taste T.O., and republished here in September 2011 (but back-dated to match the original publication date) after the Taste T.O. blog was shut down and taken offline.

In a local craft beer scene that has seen its fair share of well-intentioned failures, Etobicoke’s Great Lakes Brewery is a low-key success story. Founded in 1987, Great Lakes spent many years brewing nothing but Golden Horseshoe, an easy drinking lager that was initially available only on draught. It was eventually bottled and joined by two other beers, Red Leaf Lager and Black Jack Black Lager. All three beers catered to fairly mainstream tastes, and while not wildly successful, they developed enough of a following to keep the small brewery operational for the last two decades.

Sometime last year, however, they suddenly decided to break from their usual mould and try something different with a series of seasonal releases. Their first effort, the full-flavoured Devil’s Pale Ale, was launched at last summer’s Festival of Beer at Fort York, and it surprised many local beer drinkers who knew the brewery from their trio of mellow lagers. Even more surprising was their Winter Ale, a strong spiced ale that was perfect for the holidays.

Most recently, the series has continued with Orange Peel Ale. As the name suggests, this golden ale had orange peel added during the boil, giving both the aroma and flavour an interesting citrus note that compliments the sweet malts and soft herbal hops. Despite the use of five specialty malts and five varieties of hops, this is not an exceedingly complex beer, and the orange notes are quite subtle. In fact, it’s quite reminiscent of a good UK session bitter, albeit with a slightly fruit-accented character. But given the sickly sweetness of many fruit beers, it’s nice to have one that doesn’t beat you over the head with the fruit, and just lets it be one aspect of a tasty, well-crafted beer.

One other good thing about Orange Peel Ale: Unlike the previous Great Lakes seasonals which were only available on draught or at the brewery, this one is part of the LCBO’s spring beer release (LCBO 615633, $4.95/650 mL). Quantities and distribution are limited, but it’s been so popular that the brewery is doing a second batch to meet demand, so you should be able to find it for at least the next few weeks.

Beer of the Week – Heritage Passion Brew

This article was originally written in February 2007 for the food & drink website Taste T.O., and republished here in September 2011 (but back-dated to match the original publication date) after the Taste T.O. blog was shut down and taken offline.

Ever since the first batch of beer was made in Mesopotamia, people have been adding in a wide variety of fermentable ingredients, including fruit, in attempts to make the beverage stronger and/or tastier. While many beer geeks today look down on fruit beers as gimmicks and “girly drinks”, there are enough examples of high-quality fruit based beers around to prove that it’s a viable style that’s worth exploring.

So when Ottawa’s Heritage Brewing released a limited edition passion fruit beer called Passion Brew in honour of Valentine’s Day last year, I tried it with an open mind. Granted, I wasn’t expecting anything along the lines of a dry, tart & effervescent Framboise or Kriek. And that’s good, because if I had, my expectations certainly would not have been met.

That’s not to say that Passion Brew is necessarily a bad beer – it’s just a very, very sweet one. It has a clear, bright pinkish-golden colour, and a sweet aroma of peach and passion fruit. The body is thin and sticky, and it has a very sweet flavour with lots of candyish fruit notes. I didn’t hate it, but I also couldn’t imagine drinking more than the small glass that I had, which makes me wonder why Heritage chose to release it exclusively in 650 ml “bomber” bottles. A standard 341 ml bottle of this sugary brew would be more than enough to share with a special someone, preferably along with a similarly sweet desert.

This year’s batch of Passion Brew is available now for $4.95/650 ml at select LBCO locations. In Toronto, your best chance at finding it would be at the Yonge & Summerhill store.

Happy New Year? Yeah, Whatever…

My wife and I are not a romantic couple. We love each other dearly, and we look forward to spending the rest of our lives together, but we don’t go for all the lovey-dovey hearts-and-flowers crap that many couples thrive upon. Valentine’s Day is completely ignored in the Clow-Kirby household, and birthdays are generally celebrated with a small group of friends at a comfortable restaurant rather than with some elaborate, overpriced candlelit dinner-for-two at a pretentious, overrated bistro.

As for New Year’s Eve – well, not only are we not romantic, but we’re also somewhat misanthropic, so the idea of joining the teeming masses and wearing stupid party hats while drinking crappy sparkling wine at midnight just isn’t that appealing to us. Since NYE is also our wedding anniversary, we have gone out for dinner a couple of times to mark both occasions (yeah, we’re not completely cold-hearted), but we’ve always stuck with early seatings in order to be home well before the ball drops.

For the past couple of years, though, we haven’t even bothered with a dinner out, and instead we just order in from one of our favourite Indian restaurants and spend the night in front of the tube – this year’s selection included downloaded episodes of Little Britain Abroad, Kitchen Nightmares and No Reservations.

Our one nod towards the celebratory nature of the night was opening one of the bottles of Kuhnhenn Raspberry Eisbock that I picked up at the brewery back in August. This was my first time trying this renowned elixir, and I was actually a bit disappointed by it, especially considering how much I paid for these li’l bad boys.

It poured a murky looking ruby-brown with a very still body and a faint wisp of a tan head – not that appealing looking, to be honest. The aroma was worrisome at first – some nice chocolate & caramel, but also seeming quite stale. Whatever it was cleared after a few moments, and it became much more pleasant, developing notes of raspberry and sweet alcohol. Body is soft and smooth, very nice. The flavour is pleasant, with nice notes of chocolate, toffee, raspberry, licorice, and some slightly woodiness, but it didn’t knock my socks off. It’s a very good beer, no doubt about that, but it simply didn’t live up to the hype for me.

Anyway, cynicism and slight disappointment aside, I really did enjoy my typically atypical New Year’s Eve, and I hope that you also enjoyed yours, no matter how you chose to celebrate it (or not). While it started out a little rough, 2006 ended up being a pretty good year for me, and here’s to 2007 being a good one as well, for all of us.

A Bushel of Fruit Beers – Part 2: LCBO Year-Round Selection

This article was originally written in July 2006 for the now-defunct food and drink website Gremolata. It was re-published here in September 2011, but back-dated to appear in the blog archives close to its original publication date.

In my previous post, I had a look at the fruit beers featured in the LCBO’s summer beer release – Belhaven Blueberry, Floris Ninkeberry, Liefmans Frambozenbier and St. Louis Premium Kriek – plus the honey-flavoured Fuller’s Organic Honey Dew. As with all LCBO seasonal beer promotions, they are only available at selected stores in a limited quantity, so if you have a taste for fruit beers and want to know your year-round options, here’s a handy guide to what’s available on LCBO and Beer Store shelves and at local breweries on a more regular basis:

Amsterdam Framboise ($2.60/341 mL, 6.5% abv, available at the brewery)
The beer that comes alphabetically first on this list also happens to be the best fruit beer currently being produced in Ontario. Amsterdam Brewing takes the tough road to brew this one, using whole raspberries rather than juice or extracts, and adding them during a second fermentation process rather than just adding the flavour to a finished beer. The bright ruby-pink colour may be a bit shocking and suggestive of sweet fruit soda, but the aroma and flavour both exhibit a fresh raspberry character that holds a perfect balance of sweet and tart notes. The result is a fantastically refreshing beverage that pairs well with desserts, or simply as a thirst-quenching sipper. The only bad thing about this beer is that it is usually only available at the brewery (21 Bathurst St. at Front), although it sometimes appears at the LCBO in a unique ceramic jug ($10.95/750 mL, LCBO 637769).

Belle-Vue Kriek  ($3.30/375 mL, 5.2% abv, LCBO 487231)
Founded in 1913, Brasserie Belle-Vue is probably Belgium’s best known maker of fruit beers, mainly thanks to the fact that they have been owned for a number years by the multi-national brewing conglomerate InBev. There are some who claim that the Belle-Vue beers have been dumbed down in the years since the InBev buyout, with the rough, tart edges being smoothed and sweetened to appeal to a larger range of customers. Perhaps that is the case, but at its core, Belle-Vue Kriek is still a very traditional beer. In his excellent book Microbrewed Adventures, beer writer and homebrewing legend Charlie Papazian reports on a visit to the Belle-Vue facility where he saw their Kriek being brewed by adding whole cherries to barrels of young lambic, a unique Belgian beer that is produced by spontaneous fermentation – the brewing vats are left open and exposed to bacteria and wild yeasts, a process that imparts the beer with a distinct dry, sour and vinous character. The fruit-laden lambic is left to ferment for a couple of years before being prepared for bottling, during which is it likely that further fruit juice and sugars are added to sweeten the mixture. The result is a bright ruby beverage that holds hints of it’s pedigree in the slightly tart aroma and flavour, but which is ultimately too sweet and cloying, at least to my palate. The finish is especially unappealing, with the sweet and tart notes clashing to a produce a vaguely medicinal flavour that is not unlike cherry cough drops.

Brick Bambay  ($8.95/6 x 341 mL, 2.5% abv, LCBO 679357)
In a recent newspaper article, the founder of Waterloo’s Brick Brewery, Jim Brickman, referred to Bambay as “breakfast beer”. It may be a strange description, but Bambay is a strange beverage. Most juice-based fruit beers tend to be blended at a ratio that allows the drink to still be clearly identifiable as a beer, just one that happens to have some fruit flavour added. But Bambay is a 50/50 blend of beer and citrus juice (oranges, grapefruit and key lime), and the result is a concoction with half the alcohol and none of the flavour of a beer. That’s not to say it’s a bad beverage, as it’s actually quite tasty, and would appeal to folks who enjoy Ting and other citrus drinks. But if you’re in the mood for a beer – even a fruit flavoured one – this probably isn’t the drink for you.

Fruli Strawberry Beer (2.10/250 mL, 4.1% abv, LCBO 698548 & Beer Store)
If you’re looking for Fruli in one of the self-serve Beer Store locations, you will find it shelved next to the malt-based alco-pops like Dave’s Spiked Lemonade and DJ Trotters Sex On The Beach. It may seem strange to see a Belgian fruit beer racked next to such low-rent sugar bombs, but once you’ve tasted it, you’ll understand why – ’cause DAMN, this stuff is sweet! If you’ve ever had sickly sweet strawberry freezer jam, you’ll instantly recognize both the taste and flavour of this beer. There’s a bit of tartness in the finish, but not enough to cut the sugary strawberry candy notes that predominate. I’ve been told that this pairs well with rich desserts like chocolate cake, but I was barely able to get half a bottle of this down on its own, so I won’t be rushing to get another bottle to experiment with.

Kawartha Lakes Raspberry Wheat  ($11.25/6 x 341 mL, 4.5% abv, LCBO 698498 & Beer Store)
Back when Kawartha Lakes Brewery was still based in Peterborough, this beer was a summer favourite of mine. The base beer was a crisp, refreshing golden ale with a hint of wheat, and the raspberry extract was subtle but fresh tasting, with a nice tartness in the finish. But after KLB was bought out by Amsterdam and production was moved to Toronto, the quality of this beer has dropped dramatically, at least to my palate. The base beer is now bland and stale with an unpleasant sticky character, and the raspberry flavour is barely there – just a hint comes through in the finish, which is cloying and medicinal in nature. Apparently I’m in the minority on this one, as it’s still a fixture on a lot of summer draught lists around town, but it’s no longer the fixture that it used to be on my personal summer beer list.

McAuslan Apricot Wheat Ale  ($11.95/6 x 341 mL, 5% abv, LCBO 691113 & Beer Store)
This brew from Montreal’s McAuslan Brewery was originally a summer seasonal, but it proved to be so popular that it became a part of their regular line-up. I must confess that my feelings on this beer are tainted somewhat by the fact that it once served as my final pint in a very long night of drinking and carousing, and then proved the “last in, first out” theory quite strongly during my stagger home, so I guess you could say that it quite literally left a bad taste in my mouth. That said, it’s actually quite a nice little quaff, with the light wheat ale balancing well with the jam-like apricot flavour that is sweet-but-not-too-sweet. You’ll find this on tap in a lot of the better beer bars around town, often alternating seasonally with McAuslan’s fantastic St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout.

Mort Subite Framboise ($3.85/375 mL, 4.5% abv, LCBO 602888)
With a name that means “sudden death” in French, you might be a little wary of this one, but there’s really no need as it’s a rather nonthreatening beverage. Brewed at Belgium’s Brouwerij de Keersmaeker, a brewery with roots extending back to 1686, Mort Subite Framboise is created by blending fresh raspberry juice with traditionally made lambic. This beer pours a cloudy red-orange colour with a light pink head, and has an aroma and flavour of tart, fresh raspberries. It’s definitely not as complex as the fruit flavoured lambics produced by small brewers such as Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen, but it’s still a crisp refresher that balances sweet and dry notes nicely. If you’d like to do some side-by-side taste tests, you can find unflavoured Mort Subite Gueuze Lambic at some LCBO outlets, and the Cherry, Cassis and Peach variations are on the menu at several beer bars around Toronto.

Nickel Brook Green Apple Pilsner ($11.95/6 x 341 mL, 4% abv, LCBO 615138)
Beer and apples might not exactly sound like two great tastes that taste great together, but the combination actually has precedent in several different beer cultures, from apple-infused Belgian Ales – represented nicely in this country by the apple version of Unibroue’s Éphémère series of fruit-flavoured beers – to the Snakebite, a British pub classic made with a 50/50 mix of lager and cider. For their new apple beer, Burlington’s Better Bitters Brewery looked to Germany for inspiration. Despite the fact that most German brewers still hew quite closely to the Reinheitsgebot – the beer purity requirement that states beer must be made with only water, malt, hops and yeast – there is a large and growing market in that country for various beer and fruit juice combinations, most of them being a 50/50 blend that results in a beverage with an alcohol level in the 2.5% range. For their take on the style, Better Bitters went for a higher alcohol level in order to please the typical Canadian beer drinker, but the beer still has a continental flair, thanks to the crisp, grassy nature of the fully lagered Pilsner and the fresh, tart green apple extract that they import from Germany. This is a beer that should appeal to fans of cider and European lagers alike.

And there ends our review of the fruit beers available to Ontario drinkers. As mentioned in the previous part of the series, many of them are conveniently available in single bottles, making it easy for you to sample a few to see what you like, or perhaps put together an assortment to share in a tasting session with a few friends. Try pairing them with desserts, cheeses, fruits and other foods both sweet and savoury. You’ll surprised at how well some of the combinations work out, and you may just end up with a new favourite or two.