An article by Noah Forrest
Summer is that much closer, which means that beers are getting lighter, more refreshing, and in many cases, tart and sour. There is nothing quite like sitting in your yard or on a terrace, with the sun blazing down on you, while you drink a cold and refreshing beer. I for one am looking forward to it.
This time of year, many people lean towards drinking mainstream macro lagers, as they are easy to drink and easily procurable. However, I want to make sure people realize that there are a plethora of refreshing and amazing craft beers out there that are specifically engineered for this time of year. And today, I want to talk about two beers in particular, both of which are made with fruit, and both made by Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! The first is Solstice D’été, a raspberry Berliner Weisse, and the second is a brand new beer called P’tit Blanc, a Belgian Witbier brewed with lime and juniper berries.
Although fruited beers are finally becoming more accepted among demographics that aren’t clichéd 18-20 year old women, there is still a bit of stigma from people who think that there is somehow something wrong with the fruit-beer marriage.
I’ve ranted a bit about this before, but I think it’s time for a reboot. Fruit has been a beer adjunct for centuries; it wasn’t always a marketing ploy built to persuade non-beer-drinking-party-girls to reach for Anheuser-Busch products instead of their competitors’ fruity vodka drink. Fruit plays a huge role in making Lambic in Belgium, and in Germany, fruit syrups were used to cut the tartness of sour Berliner Weisse. Basically, it’s nothing new.
Besides the fact that some people think that it’s “unnatural” for beer to be infused with fruit (which I think I debunked above), most of the fruited beers we grew up with were downright awful. They were certainly awful because they were made by awful beer manufacturers, but also because lagers just don’t really lend particularly well to fruit (in my opinion, anyway). As well, they were excessively sweet, and drank more like a wine cooler rather than a beer. So it somewhat makes sense that people are reticent to try fruited beers.
However, that’s the brilliance of craft beer; there are an incredible number of styles and ingredients that one can use to compliment different adjuncts. Hops are incredibly juicy on their own, so many fruited IPAs exist. Their natural tropical American hop profile lends beautifully to fruits like mango, pineapple, etc. Imperial stouts have a big chocolate component, and many breweries have created cherry infused versions of these rich, roasty delights. They have an amazing Black Forest cake-like profile. So, although having roots in the past, the modern craft beer world provides endless possibilities for fruit infusion – it’s all about experimentation!
It’s also important to point out that good fruit beer isn’t sweet. Many of the sugars are fermented alongside the malted grain, making for a dry drinking experience. The fruits add new layers of depth to the existing ingredients, complementing the flavour profile while not taking anything away from it. So with that said, let’s drink these beautifully fruited summer delights!
Solstice D’été – Framboise 2016
Solstice D’été has grown to become a legend in this province. It comes out once a year, and those who know about it, scurry around town, running from store to store, trying to selfishly hoard all of it for themselves. It turns normal folk into thieving miscreants – I blame it on the raspberries.
It’s a Berliner Weisse (German sour wheat beer), brewed with fresh raspberries. It’s extremely sour, dry, and unbelievably fruity. This year, for the first time, it will be having multiple releases throughout the summer, which will make many people quite happy. If you hit the right store, you might be able to still find some kicking around before the next batch comes out. Now, let’s crack Solstice 2016.
It pours out the usual unbelievably gorgeous bright red colour, with a light pink frothy head resting on top. It smells of tart fruit tannins, alongside buckets of raspberries. There are lots of acidic aromatics as well, with some slight citrus, fresh wheat, and cranberry.
As usual, the fruit is at the front, with so much beautiful vibrant raspberry flavours. This is so juicy and crushable. It’s also very tannic and tart, drying your palate more and more after each sip. The sourness seems slightly cut down this year, but it’s still amazing.
Although being awesomely jammy, it finishes bone dry. The macerated berries are extremely potent and envelop the entire flavour profile, leaving room for a bit of wheat, slightly earthy phenols, and loads of acidic components.
Because it seems to be slightly less sour, the tartness comes through more, with a strong tannic bitterness. As a result, the finish is just a tad watery, which isn’t necessarily something I desire, but will make it that much more crushable in the heavy heated summer months to come.
P’tit Blanc is Dieu du a Ciel!’s June momentum (monthly release), and should be hitting stores around Quebec any day now. It’s a modern take on a Belgian witbier, using lime and juniper berries to complement the beer’s already spicy and refreshing flavour profile.
It pours out a nice yellow-orange colour, with a small but noteworthy head resting on top. The aroma begins with very subtle Belgian yeast phenols, that carry light cloves and cardamom. This mixes nicely with the apparent lime component; however it’s not overbearing. The juniper berries add another spicy layer, giving forth a strong herbal element. All the aromatics seem to work rather nicely together.
Wow, there is lots going on here. The adjuncts are certainly the stars of the show, but the bitterness is strong and bold, cutting everything down into a clean, but slightly resinous finish. The body is rather bold given how refreshing and crushable it is, with the wheat adding a creamy depth to the whole thing.
Like the nose, the juniper provides lots of herbal, almost tea-like components, and when mixed with the lime, makes for a gin and tonic type thing. It’s hard to tell where the witbier yeast phenolics start and end next to the equally spicy juniper berries. The lime starts to come out that much more as it warms, providing lots of refreshing citrus acidic components and lends bittering tannic rinds to the lingering aftertaste. The finish is bone dry, echoing lime peel, resinous hops, vanilla, gin, and light herbal tea. To truly enjoy this, you would certainly need to like at least some herbal flavours in your beer. That being said, it isn’t overpowering. I really like this and could drink it all summer; although I do feel like I say that about most Dieu du Ciel! beers at this point.
So I’m hoping that in some way I’ve challenged the tired presumption that fruited beers are only for people that don’t actually like beer. I encourage you to expand your mind for a moment and think to yourself, “hey, I love raspberries, maybe I’ll dig this raspberry infused Berliner Weisse.” And for the men out there who simply don’t want to drink a fruit beer because they think it’s “girly”, it’s time to embrace 2016. The two beers above will give you hair on your chest and have more balls than that dopey, corn-filled, watered-down piece of shit Coors light that you’re drinking. So you can take your tired, patriarchal, gender-paranoia bullshit, and leave it at the door. Drops mic. #realmendrinkfruitbeer
An article by Noah Forrest
Photography by Noah Forrest