Summer always brings up a new crop of fruity, fruit-filled, and fruit-flavored beers.
We get watermelon ales like the one from 21st Amendment Brewery. Cherry wheat beers are on tap at your local brewery. Apricot ales and blueberry ales appear on store shelves overnight.
And sadly, these beers are almost universally...well...bad.
The fact that they are bad is something that I don't understand. Beers already have a lot of fruit flavors in them naturally. The yeasts use to brew ales often leave behind mouthwatering "esters" tasting of ripe peaches, cherries, and tropical fruit. You'd think that adding the actual fruit would only take these flavors and make them bigger and bolder.
But this just isn't the case. For some reason, the vast majority of fruit beers taste like watered down shadows of their fruity selves. It makes sense that brewers want to add a lighter and more summery beer to their line-up of heavy stouts and frisky IPAs, but do they have to go so extreme?
Look at Belgian fruit lambics. These are fruit beers, but they are boldly flavored and lip-smacking good. Far from being watered down, the fruit is pushed forward and made even better through the brewing process. Why can't we have more fruit beers like these? Ones made creatively and carefully with interesting fruits?
Some breweries do get it right. Abita Beer in Louisiana does a fine job with its coveted Strawberry Harvest Lager, and Magic Hat #9 is an apricot ale that I'd happily drink on a hot summer evening. New Glarus Brewing makes a phenomenal raspberry ale that hits it out of the park.
The others, though, they need some TLC.
What do you think?
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(Image: Emma Christensen)