For the next few weeks, we're exploring delicious, quenching beers made with fruits, berries and more. This week, we'll be sipping a few beers brewed with strawberry. Fragaria × ananassa is technically a fruit, not a berry at all. Regardless of classification, its delicate, distinctive flavor is the essence of summer, distilled into a sweet bundle. Many brewers add strawberry to sour beers, using the sweetness to achieve a balanced flavor. When pairing these beers with food, it's the dominant sourness that dictates the pairing — not strawberry. Enjoy them alone, with fruit, with salad, or any other dish where the acid character doesn't clash. Cheers!
Black Hog Strawberry Gose
Format Sampled: 16 oz. can
Availability: Purchased at the Craft Beer Cellar
Tasting Notes: Pours a cloudy, turbid yellow with a dense, bone-white head. Aroma is clean, and sharply acidic, with hints of strawberry leaf. The initial flavor has a brief, sour slap that rapidly evolves into the ephemeral, sunny flavor of a strawberry. The strawberry is distinct, but fades away so rapidly, it nearly gives my palate whiplash. It's as if I've awoken in a room full of strawberries and sunshine, blinked, and they were gone! After the brief berry flavor, the warm, bready malt kicks into height gear, joined by a savory, salty salinity. It's salty enough to induce involuntary lip-licking, and it's a delight! I'd pair this with chips and salsa in a heartbeat!
Eviltwin Brewing James Beer
Format Sampled: 12 oz. can
Availability: Purchased at Bow Street Beverage Public Market House
Tasting Notes: Detonates an explosive foam shower immediately. What an opening! When it settles, the beer is a pale straw, with a towering head of white effervescence. Aroma is sour, berry like, and briny. The initial flavor is aggressively tart and salty, with a distinctly marine funk. It's like drinking a Berliner Weisse next to a berry patch, on a clam flat at low tide. In a good way! The palate cleansing acidity paves the way the briny, umami flavors of the olives to titillate my palate, shot through with surprising notes of berry flavor. For a beer designed to be paired with food, this is one of the most complicated, distinctive beverages I've had in months. Some drinkers may not appreciate the challenging acidity, and unexpected proteinaceous notes, but the beer geek in me can't help but appreciate the statement, and the artistry of packing so much flavor into a 3.5% beer!
Stowe Cider Strawberry Fields*
Format Sampled: 16 oz. can
Availability: Purchased at Rosemont Market and Bakery
Tasting Notes: Pours an absolutely clear pale yellow with no head. The aroma has honey, mint, and a gentle, nondescript fruitiness. The initial flavor has fresh strawberry character, not jammy, but still distinctive. Immediately after the fruit, a clean, subtle burst of mint acts as a built-in palate refresh. I can't remember the last time I've enjoyed mint flavor in a fermented beverage — but this works surprisingly well. The overall flavor profile tends toward sweet, but the body is on the thin side, and the overall drinkability is off-the-charts. Serve this with a fruit salad, and savor the last days of summer!
*I know. It's cider, not beer.