Fruit beer has its place, both in my cupboard and on my table. The holidays are perfect times for fruit beer, especially when trying to lure visiting non-beer drinkers into the fold. I usually preface an offering of same with, "I have something I want you to try." And after the inevitable pleased look or comment, I hit them with, "That's beer."
As for those whose tastes run to mainstream swill, the rule in my house is simple: Hide and Have (Hide the good stuff; have the swill available).
But I make an exception for the Canoe Beer Folks, if they're willing to try a fruit beer. And certain guests have been pre-screened--and good targets-- by their preferences for Mike's Hard. Usually it's an offering of Lindemann's in either Framboise or Kriek that does the trick, but Sam Adams Barrel Room American Kriek is outstanding. It is a tad more expensive, maybe, with the Linde coming in around $9 for a big bottle, and the SA at $10 or more depending on your local liquor locker.
But, with the holidays past, I unexpectedly found a super fruit beer the other day in a local store dedicated mainly to wine, with the rather unusual name of Wine-O-Land. Growing up, all the guys in my neighborhood knew that Wine-O-Land was mostly found "under the train bridge," but who am I to criticize a name choice, especially when the beers they carry are pretty impressive?
I digress. I sauntered into Wine-O-Land to pick up some Sam Adams Alpine Lager (Excellent!) and noticed a section of another Sam brewery--Smith's to be precise. And having enjoyed many products from Tadcaster, I was intrigued by this one label: Samuel Smith's Organic Cherry Ale. It's actually a two-step process, with the brewing and fermenting taking place at the nostalgic Melbourn Bros. Brewery in time-warped Stamford, England, after which it's blended, conditioned and packaged at Tadcaster.
About $10 a bottle, but totally worth it, this beer pours a cloudy reddish-orange with a modest, but decidedly pink, head. Its nose is quite impressively aromatic and the taste is wonderfully augmented by olfaction and retro-olfaction. Perfectly balanced, Sweet and Sour perform a delicate ballet on the palate, leaving you craving more after the first taste. A dry, distinctively cherry finish tops off this ale, which will go well with cheeses before dinner, or as a stand-alone afterwards. I'd even put this one in my Lawnmower Collection, which is reserved for those beers that reward a bloke for mowing his lawn in the hot summer time. And because it checks in under 4% ABV, you can treat yourself to two.
But leave some for your guests, who claim they "don't like beer."
And watch their opinions change.
Cheers! The PubScout