We like sticking fruit in booze. Almost any fruit will do, but we’re particularly partial to the tart snap of raspberry causing a bit of fruity mischief among the malt. The Belgians have been dabbling with raspberry beers for centuries, with the Lambic style of production being a rewarding avenue for brewers to follow. This process encourages wild yeasts to latch on to their sugary prey, causing a spontaneous fermentation which rocks on for over six months producing a slightly sour beer. It’s this sourness that further suits the addition of fruit flavours.
A few weeks ago we were perusing the list of top awards handed out by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) and noticed that the top prize in the Specialist Beer category, southern region (and bronze winner overall), went to a Lambic style fruit beer from Elgood’s brewery. Coolship Fruit is predominantly flavoured with raspberries and has a few blackberries into the mix, so we were naturally keen to get our mitts on a bottle.
Elgood’s produced a few different Lambic style beers under their Coolship range (the open air cooling trays used to attract those wild yeasts is known as a ‘coolship’) and add fruit to other styles of beer as well, so it’s no surprise they know what they’re doing. Besides the Coolship Fruit we made it a fruity evening by trying two of their specialist wheat beers – an excellent cherry wheat, and a more curious wheat beer flavoured with apple and vanilla. But the raspberry and blackberry sour won our mini tasting.
It immediately looks fruity, the beer tinged with a vibrant purple and topped with a slightly pinkish head, and it delivers a bombardment of berry aromas muddled together with a slight hint of red wine muskiness. The first sip is delicately sweet and very sour, causing a satisfying shudder through the senses as they adjust to the deliciously unusual flavours. It’s also nicely boozy and has a smooth, malty finish to it. There’s a flicker of hop bitterness that brings the senses back down to earth, but it’s all about the fruit.
It’s a very Belgian tasting beer, albeit one that has been dragged through an English hedgerow, and is a worthy award winner.
Brewery: Elgood’s, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire
Beer name: Coolship Fruit
We’ve got a recipe for a delicious raspberry ale in our book, Brew it Yourself, available here.