By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Fruit has flavored beers for centuries worldwide, in styles from Belgians to hefeweizens. Internationally loved, fruit beers can be found flavored with extracts, purees or whole fruit — fresh or dried.
Oregon brewers have a particular advantage: they have quick access to fresh fruits grown in the Northwest that range from rhubarb to pumpkins. This month’s Perfect Pints features, for example, include raspberries, cherries, prunes and blackberries grown in Oregon.
This region’s connection with fruit also makes its annual Portland Fruit Beer Fest, set for June 12-14 this year at Burnside Brewing, a natural. Dozens of breweries will feature fruit beers, some made specially for this event. Watch for updates and ticket sales at the website, www.fruitbeerfest.com.
Meanwhile, the following fruit beers are available now. The beers were chosen by our consumer judges at our monthly blind tasting at F.H. Steinbart homebrew shop in Portland.
Twisted Snout: Raspberry Squeal, Toledo 4.6 percent ABV, N/A IBUs
Brewery Description: It's a crisp golden ale brewed with real raspberries.
Consumer Comments: Like jam and beer … awesome. Raspberry! Oh, there’s a party in my mouth and every-berry’s invited. Makes my lips smack. Fruit pie from grandma’s secret recipe. Love to share this with grandma as we sit on the porch and watch the river flow by. Would serve this to my wife on Valentine’s Day and hope to get lucky. I might need to try a whole glass of this...
Coalition: Space Fruit Citrus IPA, Portland 7.0 percent ABV, 50 IBUs
Brewery Description: Space Fruit is a West Coast IPA with a citrus twist. Coalition uses five different citrus fruits to create unique flavors and aromatics that mingle with the hop character.
Consumer Comments: Carmen Miranda with her tropical fruit hat! Juniper fireworks: Gets you ready for the 4th. Love this beer -- yum, yum. Call me a cab, I would like to overindulge in this one. Rosemary? Pineapple? Yeah, this is a good beer. I tend to like the hops.
Golden Valley: Italian Prune Bomb, McMinnville 8.5 percent ABV, 54 IBUs
Brewery Description: Golden Valley’s Tannen Bomb was aged in pinot noir barrels with 75 pounds of fresh Italian prunes harvested from the brewmaster’s family orchard. Two fermentations later, this pink-colored beer has a lively floral, fruit blossom nose.
Consumer Comments: Boozy, vanilla. For a high-alcohol beer, it’s tasty. It’s got a brandy feel. Sugarplum fairies dance in my head! Ready to chill out with the peeps. The sun coming out after a sudden rainstorm. To quote Justin: “I can drink the shit out of this beer!” Delicious and less beer-like with an interesting aftertaste. This is my favorite so far. I’d love to get hammered on this one and see how I feel the next day.
Rusty Truck: Moonlight Ride Blackberry Ale, Lincoln City 5.3 percent ABV, 20 IBUs
Brewery Description: The aroma of ripened Oregon blackberries on a crisp moonlit September night is what inspired this blackberry ale. This ale is aged on 126 pounds of pureed blackberries per 10-barrel batch.
Consumer Comments: I’d be interested in finding out how much is too much of this beer. Pink lemonade city. Berry fruit cocktail with farmhouse essence. Nice flavor. Grapefruit? Raspberry?
Stickmen: Dark Cherry Wheat, Lake Oswego 6.0 percent ABV, 23 IBUs
Brewery Description: This American wheat beer with cherry is a simple wheat recipe with a secondary fermentation on 168 pounds of Oregon dark cherries. It finishes dry with a hint of tartness.
Consumer Comments: Wow. I would drink this on my lunch break and then deny it to my boss! Strawberry jam on crack. Strawberry jam slathered on pepperoni. Refreshing! A lot of Brett, like a farmyard in a good way. Unripe melons.
McMenamins: Ruby Ale, Oregon 4.39 percent ABV, N/A IBUs
Brewery Description: One of McMenamins’ standards since 1986, it is still a light, crisp and refreshingly fruity ale. Great Western Premium 2-row and 42 pounds of Oregon-grown and processed raspberry puree are used to craft every colorful batch.
Consumer Comments: Delicious! Yum, raspberry soda. Light and wheaty summer day beer with mixed berries. Perfect summer sipper (or slammer!). Berry heaven. Strawberry shortcake — no whipped cream. Berry goodness as you are wandering the fields. Refreshing, light, deep and pretty. Would like to fill my CamelBak with this and suck it down while cutting the grass.
Widmer: Hefe Shandy, Portland 4.2 percent ABV, 12 IBUs
Brewery Description: The original American hefeweizen gets a bold, new citrusy aroma and flavor from lemon drop hops and natural lemonade flavor.
Consumer Comments: Super citrus, smells like lemonade. It’s a radler and it’s delicious. Key lime pie eaten on a veranda at sunset. Get out the bikini and spray tan. I’m replacing my after-dinner cup of lemon ginger tea with this. Awesome summer taste. Lemonhead! I love how dry. Would love to listen to country music while drinking this. Okay we have a winner. This is my favorite.
NEXT FREE TASTING:
Oregon Beer Growler’s IPA Tastings:
Friday, June 12 at 5 p.m.
Three Legged Dog, Independence
Saturday, June 13 at 1 p.m.
F.H. Steinbart Co., Portland
Oregon Beer Growler each month invites consumers to “blind” taste a different style or group of beers at various locations across the state.