In which I show that it’s not that I hate fruit beers in general, but that I hate *bad* fruit beers. I thought I’d review a good one for once.
Name: Crimson Berry
Origin: Free State Brewing Co., Lawrence, KS
Style: Fruit Beer
ABV: not given, per usual Free State Style
I drank this: on tap at the brewery
For those of you unfamiliar with the University of Kansas and surrounding lore, the school colors are *not* red and blue. They’re crimson and blue. This beer, the Crimson Berry, it referring to that.
Next important thing: these aren’t sweet berries. The berries in this beer are cranberry, raspberry and blueberry. One of my main issues with a lot of fruit beers is that they’re so sweet that they seem like they’re trying to be something other than beer. The great thing about the Crimson Berry is that it’s slightly sweet, but also sour and bright and tingly. It’s a fall seasonal rather than a spring or summer, which is uncommon for fruit beers. But this beer lets the cranberry play, and I think that’s uncommon in fruit beers as well.
Onto the actual beer: this came out as a cloudy wheat-colored beer with a slightly pinkish hue. The smell was a front hit of wheat on a backdrop of juicy berries.
Taste-wise, this is one of those beers that needs to be broken down into the moment-by-moment experience of drinking it. It begins all berry, a very tart berry that sort of explodes. It’s replaced immediately by a very strong wheat flavor, the type of wheat that tastes exactly the way baking bread smells. That gets replaced immediately by a hit of very, very light malts. If you let the beer hang out on your tongue, the berry flavor will return in about a second and a half. The berry flavor also returns on the swallow, and lingers in a berry-wheat aftertaste.
I like this beer because the berries taste like actual berries the whole way through. They don’t turn into stale Bazooka Joe or cough syrup or Essence of Strawberry Shortcake Doll or anything else. They’re just berries. Like you could eat in a muffin. Or a scone (this beer reminds me of nothing so strongly as a cranberry scone). It’s well done. If you’re in the area, want a fall fruit beer, but are sick to death of pumpkin ales (or just in the mood for something different), this is absolutely the way to go. Excellent stuff.