The Hippo


Oct 16, 2019








The Cucumber Gose at The Portsmouth Brewery. Photo by Chelsey Puffer, The Portsmouth Brewery

It’s spring, right?
Lighten up with fruit-flavored beers


 Personal opinion: fruit-flavored beers are hit or miss. But a really good fruit-infused beer can be a revelation. 

I’m a big fan of Framingham, Mass.-based Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers, which boasts a terrific array of innovative, delicious and enticing brews, notably a range of baltic porters, but when I was there a year or so ago, I was told a blood orange- and hibiscus-infused brew was their best-seller. The lager did have a subtle citrusy sweetness with pleasing floral notes, but this wasn’t the beer version of orange juice. It was light, crisp, clean and refreshing — a perfect warm-weather brew. 
The key word there is subtle. A successful fruit-flavored beer carries subtle fruit flavors. The fruit shouldn’t completely overpower the brew. It can be difficult to hit the right balance: Go too heavy on the fruit, and the brew becomes too sweet, almost syrupy; go too light, and what’s the point of including the fruit? Not that using fruit is a new concept — hardly — but fruit does provide brewers with plenty of opportunities to explore flavor combinations.
It’s the perfect time of year to start thinking of something lighter. Even if the weather isn’t exactly cooperating, you’ve been cooped up all winter drinking big, rich stouts and porters, and your palate and your waistline are ready for something lighter, something that assures you spring is really coming. Seriously. 
Here are five fruit-infused beers on tap now at New Hampshire breweries to convince you spring has, in fact, sprung:
Johannes by Schilling Beer Co. (Littleton): Schilling describes this Bavarian-style hefeweizen as “featuring notes of toast, caramel, clove and, as it warms, banana.” Caramel and clove may seem a bit too wintry for this theme but I could not ignore the banana. 
Cucumber Gose by Portsmouth Brewery: Say what? This is an “Ancient German Wheat Ale” originally made in Leipzig, Germany, which apparently is known for its salt mines, giving the water, and beer, a natural saltiness. Since the Portsmouth Brewery isn’t located in Leipzig, brewers went ahead and added salt — and coriander and grains of paradise — to recreate their version of this brew. And brewers added cucumbers during the fermentation process. I know cucumbers aren’t fruit so you don’t need to point that out, but the mellow and refreshing flavor of cucumber screams warm days ahead to me. 
Local Blue by Kettlehead Brewing Co. (Tilton): There is just something about a blueberry beer. Whereas other berries, like raspberries, can be a bit too tangy and syrupy on the palate, blueberries tend to be lighter, crisper and cleaner in a brew. After you’ve had a few big IPAs, switch to a blueberry beer — your tastebuds will thank you. (You could also just stop drinking.) This blueberry wheat beer is brewed with local blueberries. 
Blueprint DDH El Dorado by Garrison City Beerworks (Dover): This cloudy pale ale, which looks like a New England-style IPA, boasts big tropical flavors of papaya and melon. As important as the proportion of the fruit are the fruit flavors brewers choose to highlight. Tropical flavors like papaya, pineapple and mango, which come from the hops, sparkle in a nicely hopped brew.  
Busty! Farmhouse Blonde by Burnt Timber Brewing (Wolfeboro): I love farmhouse ales — they’re almost like a blank canvas for the brewer to play around with, mixing and matching interesting, bright flavors. This farmhouse ale is fermented on peaches and apricots, which says winter is over to me. And at 7.0 ABV, this brew has some giddyup.  
Jeff Mucciarone is a senior account executive with Montagne Communications, where he provides communications support to the New Hampshire wine and spirits industry. 

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