Fruit or fruity beers are not for everyone. But that could be said about sours or stouts, and I let them into my life, so why not fruit beers?
So how do these popular spring and summer brews fit into my life and how can you too welcome them into yours? This is the question I decided to tackle for no other reason then I love exposing myself to new beers or in this case, beers that have been around but I’ve simply avoided.
To be fair, I have always had fruity beer around the house. My wife, who will figure greatly in this story, is a fan. But, till recently, I had not really appreciated the citrusy fruit blends becoming popular in IPAs and how the juice really does compliment the bitterness of the hop or the malt. So it’s time to open up my beer brain and welcome in new flavor combinations, because finding the flavor that fits our palette is really why we love craft beer. So, now I’m ready to expand from IPA’s to other styles that also are experimenting with fruity possibilities.
So I was thrilled when I was asked to do a feature on SchlaflyBeer‘s latest sampler pack: the Frugi-Four, four distinct beer styles featuring four different fruits. This is the first year for the new variety pack that includes Apricot IPA, Watermelon Lager, Raspberry Hefeweizen and Peach Saison.
The new pack showcases two important points of pride for the largest, locally owned brewery in Missouri: a dedication to interesting sampler pack offerings as well as a showcase of its commitment to brewing with only real fruit instead of artificial flavors.
Ambassador Brewer Stephen Hale explains, “A frugivore is someone or something who primarily eats, or in this case drinks, fruit. We wanted to celebrate our commitment to brewing true fruit beers. This has always been an important distinction for us at Schlafly. We use real fruit throughout different stages of the brewing process, which highlights the natural flavors and aromas of the carefully selected fruits to complement the paired beer styles.”
Sampler packs are something I never thought I’d get into, but as I find myself seeking more new experiences rather than sticking only with what I know, I’m finding value here. It’s making sense to fill my beer fridge with 1-2 or 3 beers rather than a sixer or a 12 pack. Variety really is the spice of life and allows me to really learn more.
Schlafly’s Fruit Beers
What Schlafly says: Schlafly’s Raspberry Hefeweizen distinguishes itself among others in that it’s a true fruit beer—not a fruit-flavored beer—that uses real raspberry in the brewing process. Once the fruit’s sugar ferments out, the aroma and flavor of raspberries remain, making this a delightfully drinkable beer that’s not too sweet or tart, but refreshing and balanced with a naturally hazy pink coloring. Because it’s low in alcohol and brings a smooth dose of wheatiness, it’s perfect for summer.
What Drink314 says: Right off the pop of the top, a sweet, fruity aroma cascaded to my nose, pleasant and not overwhelming. On the first sip, the raspberry is there, but subtle and not overwhelming at all. I can’t judge IBU numbers, and I know 16 is low, but I get no bitterness at all. The berry flavor is still on my palate three sips in, but in refreshing way. Definitely palatable and drinkable for someone who is not a huge berry beer fan, but just wants something different on a summer day.
What Schlafly says: This cloudy wheat beer is made in the tradition of Northern France’s farmhouse ales, but with the addition of peach added during fermentation.
The malts lend a soft sweetness while the hops bring out a hint of spice, the French yeast strain adds complexity and the peach contributes balance and subtle fruit flavors. Much like our other beers of this same style, its strength is in its simplicity, and finishes crisp and dry.
What Drink314 says: I’m really trying to learn to like and appreciate saisons. That said, I find most saison’s to weak for my taste. So with that in mind, I did pick up the light peach flavoring on the draw and found it very swiggable. The peach was pleasant but in no way overwhelming. I could see saison lovers digging this, but it’s just not for me.
What Schlafly says: In 2016, Schlafly began trialing more beers that incorporate ingredients both during fermentation and after. For this refreshing version, they brew their popular Helles-style lager then add watermelon to the fermenter. It emerges smooth, bright and malty with a twist of flavoring sweetness from the fruit.
What Drink314 says: Heh heh, funny story with this one. My dog didn’t eat my homework, but my wife did drink my beer before I could try it, So without further ado, here’s her review: “You really get a fruity smell after you pour in the glass. The Watermelon flavor is subtle and pleasant, but I could go for a bit more of the fruit in this one.
What Schlafly says: Rather than add sugar or artificial flavor to their IPA, Schlafly brewers ferment it with pounds of apricot then dry hop it with Simcoe and Cascade hops for several days. The American hops and yeast combined with the fruit’s subtle sweetness create layers of tart aromas and a crisp hoppiness that make this style as approachable as any.
What Drink314 says: I like where fruity beers are taking me, but clearly I’ll have prefer IPAs. Apricot is not a fruit I would have imagined would go well with a real hoppy IPA, but here is works. This is my favorite of the four. Here the fruit cuts the perfect line with the hop and malt, and I love the lingering fruit on after the swallow. A bold beer and now one of my new favorites. Will make for a great summer night beer, out in the back yard watching baseball.