Thursday, 14 June 2012

Fruits of Your Labour

It took me a while to warm up to the idea of fruit-flavored beer, but I’ve learned to appreciate it.  I’ll happily admit to enjoying a cold Aprikat at a summer barbecue.  It’s not the idea of fruit beer I find objectionable - just the brands that try to turn disguise alcoholic soda as beer (*cough* Früli).  And the labels that blatantly market to women (Früli again).  Just because it’s pink doesn’t mean I’ll like it more.

Enough venting.  Now for some science.

There are two types of fruit beers you’ll typically see on the shelves: lambic beers (typically from Belgium) and flavored wheat ales.

4-ethyl-phenol = horse flavor.  Yum?

Lambic beers undergo a process known as “spontaneous fermentation”.  The wort is exposed to the air, collecting wild species of yeasts and lactic acid bacteria.  These microorganisms propagate and produce lactic acid, which sours the brew.  Brettanomyces yeasts may also emit 4-ethyl-phenol, a compound that is perceived as “horsey”, and is enjoyed by few.  Fruit is often added to lambics both to complement the acidity, and to mask the “barnyard” flavour of the yeast.  Popular varieties include Kriek (cherry), Framboise (raspberry), and Cassis (blackcurrant).

Do I have a twin?
Non-lambic beers are fermented with s in a controlled environment.  Fruit flavors are most often made from wheat ales, which tend to be light in body and sweeter than barley-malt brews.  As with any generalization though, there are exceptions.  The Raspberry Wheat Ale from Granville Island and the green apple Ephemère from Unibroue are both great examples to begin with.

To make the perfect beersicle, choose a beer that is sweet and low-alcohol.  Thus fruit flavored beers, or beer coolers/cocktails (Shandy anyone?) are ideal.  High alcohol beers will not freeze solid enough, while bitter beers will taste downright abysmal.  Don’t waste your craft oak-aged stout.

I used Alley Kat Brewberry Ale for this recipe, and I’m hoping to make some more soon with Aprikat.  Or Coor’s Lite Iced Tea (abbreviated “CLIT” in my colorful vocabulary).

Beersicles...because I can.

Equipment:       One 6-well popsicle mould

Ingredients:       2 bottles fruit-flavored beer
                        6 tbsp honey, slightly warmed

  1. Pour beer into of the popsicle mould until each well is filled halfway.  Make sure to pour down the side of the mould to minimize the level of foam.
  2. Add the honey directly to each well of the mould and stir to dissolve.
  3. Continue to pour, filling moulds within ¼” of the top.
  4. Insert popsicle sticks and transfer to freezer.
  5. Share with friends.  Not children.  Or don’t – it’s only two beer.

Makes 6 “beersicles”

Rubin, J. (2011). Try a spontaneous' Lambic beer. Toronto Star (Canada).
Mosher, R. (2009). Tasting Beer: An Insider's Guide to the World's Greatest Drink.

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