Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.
This week, we present a beer that’s probably different from any other brew you’ve ever had in your life. This Belgian confection is a light-bodied brew with a bright red color that it derives from the additions of raspberries. Think of a sparkling red wine but with greater heft, thanks to the barley and unmalted wheat that truly make it a beer.
So many friends who have sworn they’d never like a fruit beer are astounded by the flavor of this treat, while more than a few beer drinkers are equally perplexed by its unique nature. Some won’t come around to accepting it as a beer when compared with a more bitter or heavier brew, but that’s really their loss. A few would even like to divide the camps between the sexes, dubbing this a girly beer that men won’t care for. But anyone who loves raspberries (one of my two or three most favorite foods in the world) will enjoy this, regardless of gender.
That’s because it is so much more than raspberry soda. The robust nose has aromas of red fruit, of course, laced with notes of yeast, wood, a sugar vinegar and tobacco.
Pour it into a tall, thin stein and notice how huge a head of foam rises. And it lasts, sparkling pink over the darker red brew below.
The flavor conveys raspberries in all their glory, with the seeds seeming to have provided a touch of tannin. There’s also a slightly sour note to balance the sweetness, the same element that made me think of vinegar on the nose. Though it is sweet on the tongue, it has a surprisingly dry finish.
If, after a bottle or two, you still think want to think of this as soda, at least think of it as an adult, raspberry version of Dr Pepper.
Obviously, the style of beer is different. It’s called lambic, which Wikipedia defines as being “brewed only in the Pajottenland region of Belgium (southwest of Brussels) and in Brussels itself. … Unlike conventional ales and lagers, which are fermented by carefully cultivated strains of brewer’s yeasts, lambic beer is produced by spontaneous fermentation: It is exposed to the wild yeasts and bacteria that are said to be native to the Senne valley, in which Brussels lies. It is this unusual process which gives the beer its distinctive flavour: dry, vinous and cidery, usually with a sour aftertaste.”
Not all lambics use fruit, but Lindemans has been making a whole line of fruit-laden specialty brews, including some made with cherries, peaches and apricots, since 1811. They’re good, but this is the best of the lot and the perfect one to start with if you’ve never tried this style of beer.
You may have heard someone say that Cabernet Sauvignon should be paired with chocolate cake for dessert. Not so. That pairing couldn’t hold a candle to Lindemans Framboise alongisde Lion & Rose’s Four High Chocolate Cake, the Big Ben Brownie Sundae or the Sticky Toffee Pudding.
And, yes, this is a beer.