Fruit and beer.
For many people, the two concepts don’t belong together. For example, one of my ex-colleagues had a letter published in Viz which sneered at the whole concept of a “lager top” as being the Southern softy drink of shandy under a euphemistic name.
Funny though the letter was, I don’t think he was altogether right. OK, it’s a shame to spoil a decent ale by pouring half a pint of R. White’s into it. Snakebite destroys the lager, the cider, and half of your braincells at a stroke. And Guinness and blackcurrant is an abomination.
But there are plenty of respectable beers on the Continent which involve fruit in some way. Take Hoegaarden, for one. Wheat beer is nice enough in itself, but adding that Curaçao orange peel to the process gives the drink a zing which makes it perfect for sitting outside on a summer’s day.
The Belgians seem to be particularly big on fruit in beer. Kriek, the beer made with cherries, is probably the most famous instance of this.
Just now I’ve been drinking a bottle of framboise, or frambozenbier if you’re in Flanders rather than Wallonia; beer flavoured with raspberries. Like Hoegaarden, it’s a great drink for summer – it’s refreshing and has a pleasant zing to it which really helps take the heat off. (Pity it’s a bit on the pricey side, though on the other hand that does mean you’re less likely to gulp it down in industrial quantities and be totally wasted by dinnertime.)
The Germans do something very similar in Berlin, called Weiße mit Schuss. But in the German case they simply add raspberry syrup to the finished beer, whereas the Belgians use real raspberries in the brewing process. Nice though Weiße mit Schuss can be, it’s not got the bite that framboise has. It’s a bit stickier, too.
So the message seems to be: Don’t knock the idea of fruity beer until you’ve tried it; but if you’re going to do it, do it properly, with real fruit, not rubbish with additives and colourings.