It used to be on a warm summer day, you had a beer, or two, straight out of the bottle or in a frosty mug.
Then the Corona-drinking folks got all fancy and started jamming lime wedges down the neck of Corona Extra bottles. Then Blue Moon, following the lead of many European Weiss beers, added an orange to the rim.
Now, brewers are skipping the middleman and just infusing fruit right into their beers and some of the results are surprisingly tasty. Now these aren't Lambic beers, that's a whole different animal and perhaps a topic for another post.
The first fruit-infused beer I ever tried remains the best, to my palate: Shiner Ruby Redbird. I’m not gonna get all "tasting notes" on you and pretentiously tell you all the subtle, bizarre things in this brew. But suffice to say, as the ingredients: Ruby Red grapefruit and ginger both feature prominently here.
I do offer one observation: stick with the bottled variety versus the canned Shiner Ruby Redbird. I know it’s de rigueur for microbrewers to can their beer nowadays, but to my tastes the canned version lacks the bite of the bottled version. Your mileage may vary.
We go west to San Francisco for our next offering, 21st Amendment Brewery’s “Hell or High Watermelon,” a wheat beer infused with, you guessed it, watermelon — a surprisingly tasty combo. As with the Shiner grapefruit beer, the fruity flavor is never overwhelming but more of a complementary note. No doubt it’s there. It doesn’t hit you over the head with flavor.
And since we like to drink local here, there’s no shortage of local brews with fruity infusion. But one of the first brewers to do it was Lakefront Brewery with its Cherry Lager. Infused with Wisconsin Montmorency cherries and Mt. Hood hops, this one has a bit more upfront cherry flavor. It is a spring seasonal, so it may be a bit tougher to find at some of the well-traveled beer and liquor outposts but well worth the effort of finding it.
I’m just scratching the fruity beer surface here but this is intended to be a conversation starter. Share with us your favorite fruit-infused beers — not shandys either, maybe a topic of yet another post — or sound off on your thoughts about these three fruity brews. Cheers!