We hear a lot from behind the bar at the Delafield Brewhaus, but one thing we’re hearing less often is the tendency to assign gender to beer styles. For every man who only drinks the Delafield Amber, there’s another who builds his own Sampler so he can stay current on our latest styles. For every woman who is looking for “something light,” there’s another who can’t wait to sip our big, barrel-aged beers out of an elegant snifter. Another bias that is fading away is the stigma surrounding fruit beer.
Used to be I’d hear a guy’s friends deride him, just a little and all in good fun, for ordering our fruit beer. We always keep one on tap and, like all of John Harrison’s beers, they are spectacular representations of their style. But thanks to craft beer culture, with its love of novelty and community, the bias is swinging in favor of this style. If I had to pin down the turning point, I’d say it was that Superbowl ad from the big factory-style macrobrewery that made fun of craft beer lovers and Pumpkin Peach Ale, in particular. This ad tweaked our value system a little, and reminded us that it is more important to stand by what you love, than to let yourself be mocked into drinking what the guys in the boardroom are pushing.
Today, I’m writing a little love note to fruit beer, in all its historical glory. That’s right: fruit beer is nothing new. In fact, it’s the opposite of something new. The very first fermented brews include fruit. Biomolecular Archaeologist Patrick McGovern has analyzed the residue inside clay jars from China and has determined that 9,000 years ago, they were making booze happen with the hawthorn fruit (which is sort of like a grape). Fast forward in time and space to Egypt, and we find our foremothers (yes, brewing was frequently done by females in ancient communities) using dates and other fruit. Naturally, we presume that the use of fruit was to provide additional fermentable sugars, but the flavors in the mash come through in the brew.
That is one reason why the Delafield Brewhaus is so committed to the quality of ingredients used in our beer. For example, we don’t use artificial colors or flavors in our fruit beer, There’s no “mango flavoring” in our award-winning Mango Sunset Lager. That mango flavor comes from mangoes. The gorgeous red hue of our Raspberry Ale, and its pink-tinged frothy head, are so lovely because of real raspberries. Just like real raspberries, the beer is bursting with fruit taste, unencumbered by the sickly sweetness of factory flavorings.
Some beer lovers choose this beer on its own, others like it blended with our Sommerzeit Hefeweizen. I like mine with a few dashes of Cranberry Bitters. However you take yours, get it while you can, because this beer won’t be around forever. Soon, a new fruit beer will hit the tap lines, and we can all discover a new, delicious beer.