Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Southern Tier Brewing Co - Raspberry Wheat

Ah, fruit beer - I've tried and reviewed a couple of examples of this style recently, and they've all, without exception, been very refreshing and simple beers.  The kind of drink that goes just brilliantly with a light riverside meal or picnic on a balmy summer's day such as we've been experiencing (a bit more sporadically than I'd have hoped) recently.  The kind of beer which, for some inexplicable reason, often gets labelled as a 'malt beverage' rather than a true beer, as if it were some kind of processed, manufactured alco-pop - a really unfair label, as these beers are just as worthy of the name as the IPAs or stouts which connoisseurs are more inclined to praise.

I guess there's understandable reluctance on the part of some hop-heads to fully accept fruit beer - generally these styles are very low in IBUs, so any hop aroma is usually very restrained, and hop bitterness is at a minimum in order to let the fruit flavour through.  But really, I say there's nothing wrong with a well-crafted, uncomplicated fruit beer to celebrate the season.  Particularly when they're as well-made as the ones we have on offer in Upstate.

Tonight's example comes from Southern Tier - I've already reviewed a couple of their beers and have been very impressed with both.  So here's hoping this one is true to form!  Oh, and by the way, the glass in the photo is my commemorative sample glass from the Real Beer Expo.  It's a much better glass than the ones I've been using (yes, the kind of glass you use really does make a difference!).

This brew pours a light, straw colour, with low to moderate carbonation.  Although you can't really see it in the photo, it had a good-sized white head with decent lacing (poor retention, though I'm not going to hold that against them too much).  It's brilliantly clear, with no haze that I could see.

The aroma features prominent, tart and fruity raspberries, with some faint hops detectable underneath.  It's great when a fruit beer smells of the real fruit rather than an artificial syrup.

It tastes a little sweet, with the raspberry featuring prominently and sitting at the back of your mouth.  It's got that lovely sweet and tart combination which I always love about summer fruits.  There's also a very mild hop bitterness detectable in the taste, which complements the fruit nicely and doesn't clash.  It's almost as if it's there to gently remind you that you're drinking a real beer.

The mouthfeel's smooth with a fairly low carbonation level, possibly a little low for the American Wheat style.  The body's pretty light, just as it should be for a summery fruit beer.  The finish is slightly sweet but not cloying.

A really nice fruit beer with some subtle hoppy touches.  Here are my scores:

Appearance - 4.5/5
Aroma - 3.5/5
Taste - 4/5
Mouthfeel - 3.5/5

Overall - 3.875/5.  It's a really great summer brew, perfect for the hot summer days ahead.  The balance of hops and fruit was particularly unusual - in the best way possible.

1 comment:

  1. A dissenting view: when I had this a while ago (3 yrs now, I think), I had a different opinion of it. I thought that the raspberry flavor came through with only the most medicine-like qualities being perceptible and may have masked the best qualities of the wheat beer.

    However, my introduction to fruit beers came through labmics, which may prejudice me somewhat.