New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Hi, Sean Gillies here; I've collaborated with Gabby on a few research projects such as "what's the best pilsner in Heidelberg?" and "is there a pub in London that serves craft brews and tolerates children?" I'm jumping at his invitation to try some beer blogging, and thought I might use a hometown beer event as a launch pad. Last Wednesday saw the release of New Belgium Brewing's seasonal Frambozen, a beer I always look forward too, and have long associated with putting snow tires on the car and ski tuning.
This is not fruit syrup or extract added at bottling time; Frambozen is a brown ale fermented with raspberry juice in the Belgian Framboise style. Once upon a time, I made a beer at home with frozen, whole blackberries and it was an incredible mess. Using whole fruit is, I suspect, not a practice that scales in a brewery.
The beer is clear (not refermented in bottle) deep ruby-brown with an ample and pinkish head. It has a moderate carbonation. The nose is of sour fruit with a hint of malt. Frambozen is fairly light-bodied and tart, on account of the fruit and not due (as far as I know) to any lactobacillus. While fruity, it's also very dry, extraordinarily so for an American fruit beer. The aftertaste is of toasty biscuit malt and fresh, not jammy, raspberries. There's very little hop character in this beer.
I enjoy this beer more than most of my beer-drinking friends do, most find it too tart to drink without food. At least a couple times a season, I'll ask a bartender to pour some stout on top, black and tan style, to get a sense of another take on Framboise with a little more body, more dark malt.