Year of the Fruit Beer

Posted Sun Jul 25, 2010, 18:23 PM by Tracy | |

26 beers over 4 days. Fruit beers were strongly represented this year, as were the perennial favorites, IPAs. This would have been a good year to focus on IPAs since the crowds were flocking to the fruit beers. I tried as many as I could, then turned to IPAs on the last day. Only one witbier this year, but it was a decent one.


Portland OR
Sunstone Pilsner
5.6% alcohol
32 IBUs
Sunshine yellow in color, with sparkly carbonation dancing on the tongue. Just enough bitter and a tad of sweet. The flavor lingers surprisingly long for a pilsner. Refreshing.

Moylan’s Brewing Co.
Novato CA
Pomegranate Wheat
Fruited wheat
4.7% alcohol
8 IBUs
A girly beer for those of you missing your cosmos. Or consider it a health drink. Pomegranate is a “superfood”, right? Either way this is a yummy quaff with plenty of carbonation. Just be careful to not drink too much too fast – it goes down like soda pop.

Eugene OR
Maiden the Shade
6.8% alcohol
70 IBUs
An almost overwhelming hop aroma, yet not overly bitter. Almost sweet, with a gentle drop-off. The flavor of flowery hops seems to build up in the center of the tongue long after the last swallow.

Portland OR
Organic Deranger
Imperial Red
8.7% alcohol
100 IBUs
For an ale that proclaims 100 IBUs, this beer is surprisingly sweet. Starts out hoppy then switches to sweet malt half way through. A strong red ale with a complexity of big flavors.

Terminal Gravity Brewing
Enterprise OR
Single Hop Double IPA
Double IPA
7.9% alcohol
104 IBUs
The first thing you notice is how dark this beer is for an IPA. The initial aromatic impression is one of malt rather than hops. The flavor is about an even a balance as you could hope to achieve. Intriguing.

Buckbean Brewing Co
Reno NV
Original Orange Blossom Ale
5.8% alcohol
35 IBUs
The Orange Blossom Special is coming your way. This fruited ale is no shrinking violet. The aroma is sweet, but the flavor is tart and slightly bitter on the way orange peel is. Unlike many other fruit ales, the orange is subtle and suggestive, rather than overt. Downright seductive.


Eel River Brewing
Scotia CA
Organic Acai Berry Wheat
Fruited Wheat
4% alcohol
15 IBUs
Feel free to convince yourself that beer made with Acai berries, rich in antioxidants, is good for you. This beer is not particularly demanding, which is good when you just want a refreshing summer drink. The berry flavoring is subtler than many fruit beers, neither overly sweet nor tart.

Marin Brewing Co
Larkspur CA
Bluebeery Ale
5.3% alcohol
21 IBUs
You better like blueberries because this is chock full of them. It even smells blue. The flavor drops off pretty quickly after that first big hit. A little sweet but not too sweet.

Widmer Brothers Brewing Co
Portland OR
Captain Shaddock IPA
6.5% alcohol
60 IBUs
Here’s an ale that combines the two most popular styles at this year’s brew fest, IPA and Fruit. They actually added grapefruit peel at the end of the brewing process. The grapefruit amplifies and enhances the flowery hop flavor, as it gently grips the sides of your tongue.

Hale’s Ales Brewery
Seattle WA
Hale’s Supergoose IPA
7.5% alcohol
90 IBUs
Hoppy and fragrant, this is a good, all-around, well-balanced IPA. I don’t know why more people aren’t snapping it up. It’s plenty hoppy without being overly bitter. The taste lingers in your mouth, evenly distributed, without overstaying its welcome.


Fort George Brewery
Astoria OR
Vortex IPA
8% alcohol
93 IBUs
The first taste impression is of malt, which quickly jumps to the back of the palate. Then the hops come to the forefront, gripping the sides of the tongue. This is a big, complex beer with a long, lingering aftertaste.

Ram Restaurant and Brewery
Salem OR
Barefoot Wit
5.2% alcohol
12 IBUs
A nice break from the big beers, this witbier offers complexity on a different scale. Classic orange peel and coriander combine with relatively high carbonation for a taste experience that is bright and precise. Witbier remains my favorite style of beer, especially for hot summer days.

Goose Island Beer Co
Chicago IL
6.5% alcohol
25 IBUs
With fairly high carbonation and unique spicing, Sofie is the champagne of beer. There is something distinctly wine-like, from its initial sparkle to an aftertaste that segues into a mouthfeel remniscient of Chardonnay.

Bridgeport Brewing Co
Portland OR
Stumptown Tart
7.7% alcohol
9 IBUs
Yet another popular fruit beer at this year’s festival. And no, this was not my nickname in my younger days. This beer has a pleasant tang that helps it live up to its name, yet retains a little sweetness of raspberry.

Caldera Brewing Co
Ashland OR
Caldera Hibiscus Ginger Beer
Herb & Spice
4.7% alcohol
Hibiscus gives this beer a pleasant tartness. The ginger definitely plays a background role, hiding behind the hibiscus. Nonetheless, it is a well-balanced, pleasant novelty beer.

Victory Brewing Co
Downingtown PA
Prima Pils
5.3% alcohol
42 IBUs
A good, basic pilsner with a distinctive lager flavor. A little hops, a little malt, it all blends together for a lightly refreshing brew. A bit of the hoppy bitterness lingers mid-tongue after the last swalllow.

Upright Brewing Co
Portland OR
Reggae Junkie Gruit
5.2% alcohol
0 IBUs
You read that right: 0 IBUs as this brew has no hops. It does have a delightfully spicy aroma remniscient of a Belgian witbier. Though not sweet per se, the mouthfeel is slightly cloying. Very citrusy topnotes. Not bad, really, though I wouldn’t want to drink it in quantity.

Beer Valley Brewing Co
Ontario OR
Leafer Madness
9% alcohol
100 IBUs
A big hop beer that lives up to its name. The aroma doesn’t really suggest anything but the first mouthful delivers a big hit of flowery, bitter, hop flavor. The flavor drops off fairly quickly to leave a base level of hop taste gripping the sides of the tongue.

Steelhead Brewing Co
Eugene OR
Full Count Pale Ale
Pale Ale
5.2% alcohol
35 IBUs
When you’ve had your fill of over hopped IPAs, but you’re not ready for the thin sharpness of a lager, turn to a pale ale. This beer has a well-balanced, light touch with both the hops and malt. The aftertaste is very subtle, barely discernible.


Boulder Beer Co
Boulder CO
Kinda Blue
Fruited Wheat
5.1% alcohol
15 IBUs
A good entry for this year’s fruit beer extravaganza. A rich balance of hops and malt make this more ale than berry. The blueberry flavor is subtle, coming in at the end. Not a “girly” beer.

Mt Emily Ale House
LaGrande OR
Hells Canyon IPA
5.75% alcohol
100 IBUs
A well-balanced, refreshing IPA with a pleasant aroma. A little extra tasty hoppiness comes in right after the first swallow and hangs out on the flat of the tongue, slowly departing. Not overwhelmingly bitter for such high IBUs.

Laughing Dog Brewing
Ponderay ID
Dogzilla Black IPA
6.9% alcohol
68 IBUs
Strongly aromatic, redolent with hops. The hop flavor starts out strong, then drops off quickly to a long lingering finish that actually seems to strengthen with time. The malt that gives it its namesake color provides a counterpoint.

10 Barrel Brewing Co
Bend OR
India Summer Ale
6.7% alcohol
45 IBUs
With an aroma of tangerine, this light IPA offers refreshing citrus topnotes over floral hops. The flavor fades rather quickly, but it does go down nicely.

New Belgium Brewing Co
Fort Collins CO
Ranger IPA
6.5% alcohol
70 IBUs
A very decent IPA, good flavor, decently balanced. A lot of carbonation and a light hand with the hops (for an IPA) makes this a good choice for summer. Not a particularly demanding beer.

Stone Brewing Co
Escondido CA
Stone IPA
6.9% alcohol
77 IBUs
Maltier than I would expect from an IPA, the sweetness increases in the mouth. Hops form the highest topnotes, but malt dominates.

Ballast Brewing Co
San Diego CA
Big Eye IPA
7% alcohol
90 IBUs
Hops and malt are so tightly balanced, that neither is dominant. Instead the impression I get is one of grainy mash. And then the hops come sneaking up from behind.


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