Raspberries, Peaches, Blackberries & Lemon

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Doctor's Orders Brewing
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From yesterdays SMH.


Raspberry malted
By Willie Simpson
February 1, 2005

The fruitiest beers this side of Belgium are being brewed locally.

It's been positively raining fruit beers lately, most of them from local boutique producers. Redoak Blackberry Hefeweizen, Redoak Framboise Froment (made with raspberries), Merc's Own Peach Ale and Jamieson Raspberry Ale have all found their way onto my tasting bench in recent weeks. Throw in the imported Grolsch Lemon and it's a rather fruity summer drinking season.

Most of these brews have doubtlessly been inspired by Belgian fruit lambics, which traditionally feature raspberries (framboise) or sour cherries (kriek) used to flavour these unique, spontaneously fermenting beers. Authentic lambic brewers add the fruit direct to wooden casks full of the fermenting beer; large, commercial breweries nowadays often use fruit syrup or flavouring and sweeten the beer for less-discerning palates. Modern fruit lambic variations include peach, blackcurrant, grape and banana.

The Redoak Boutique Beer Cafe's co-owner/brewer David Hollyoak calls Framboise Froment his "signature beer" and the pink-tinged brew is served in flutes for women and solid balloon glasses for blokes. It's basically a Belgian wit (or wheat) beer with a huge burst of fresh raspberries sourced from the Blueberry Hills Farm in the Yarra Valley (the berry farm happens to be run by Hollyoak's cousins).

The same family connection also supplies the fruit that flavours his distinctive Blackberry Hefeweizen. Hollyoak brews a Bavarian style, cloudy wheat beer (hefeweizen), but the blackberries provide a sharp, lactic tartness that results in a beer much closer to the northern German branch of wheat beers. Berliner weisse beers are sometimes served with a dash of sweet fruit cordial so Redoak's version is really a New World twist on a traditional European theme.

Merc's Own Peach Ale is dancer, actor and beer aficionado Paul Mercurio's first commercial venture. Merc's Own Peach Ale is brewed and bottled at the Holgate Brewhouse in Victoria and Mercurio used peach syrup to flavour the initial batch. He says the beer is still "a work in progress" selling steadily enough through a handful of Victorian bottle shops.

Owners of the Jamieson Brewery in the Victorian high country, Jeff and Jeanette Whyte, installed a micro-brewery in their country pub three years ago. "We wanted to attract more tourists and give them a reason to stay," Jeff Whyte says. The raspberry ale is the second-biggest seller among their four house beers. "I'd read about those European fruit beers and I drank all I could get my hands on," he says.

Whyte brews a basic pale ale recipe and adds the raspberries during the fourth or fifth day of fermentation. He plans to brew a one-off batch of blackberry stout sometime in 2005.

You've probably seen a slice of lemon or lime added to the likes of Corona or Redback, but Grolsch Lemon incorporates the fruit flavour in a low-alcohol lager. Beer purists will be appalled, but the "lager and lime" brigade will happily suck it down.

Tasting notes
Redoak Framboise Froment (5.2%)

Hazy, golden-pink. Aroma: sharp/sour raspberry notes. Palate: tart at first with loads of raspberry character; dry finish with hints of kirsch. A stunning aperitif that will seduce even non-beer drinkers.

Redoak Blackberry Hefeweizen (5.2%)

Murky with a faint purple tinge. Aroma: rather shy, some banana notes. Palate: initial tartness, restrained berry flavours; mouth-puckeringly sour finish. Berliners love this wheat beer variation, but others may find it a challenge as an aperitif or after-dinner cleanser. (www.redoak.com.au)

Jamieson Raspberry Ale (4.7%)

Dark tan. Aroma: hints of sweet fruit. Palate: malty initially, balanced with tart, raspberry notes and a cleansing aftertaste. Unusual, refreshing summer brew or dessert beer. (jamiesonbrewery.com.au)

Merc's Own Peach Ale (5.5%)

Hazy, straw-brown. Aroma: some fruity notes. Palate: softly carbonated, a gentle fruitiness emerges from this ale. Refreshingly tart finish. Could be matched with spicy picnic meats (pepperoni, salami, pastrami, leberkasse) or drunk as a summer quaffer. ([email protected])

Grolsch Lemon (2.5%)

Pale straw. Aroma: lemon sherbet. Palate: sweet/sickly lemon essence flavour; slightly tart finish. Novelty light beer that is nothing more than a shandy with a dash of lemon squash. Something to rinse the sand and salt out of your mouth after a swim. (Tucker Seabrook, tel: 9666 0000)


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The only truely good non-lambic fruit beer I've tried was from the US.

New Glarus Belgian Red.

Absolutely brilliant stuff. Had it in a tasting session the other night along with many other stars such as Stone IPA, Dogfish Head 90min IPA and Victory Old Horizontal.

Be interesting to see if any of the Redoak beers are worth drinking... Because the Jamieson sucks ;)

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