Innis & Gunn get fruity

10 Sep

Fruit beer is one of those things that I’m just never sure about.

The first time I tried one of the better known brands – Früli – a few years ago, it was after continuous recommendations from some work colleagues that it was the best thing since our office had decided to let us drink at our desks after 3:30pm on a Friday (this is Europe after all!). But when I tried it at Dutch pub De Hems, I found its sweetness to be too overwhelming. I promptly purchased my favourite, heavier-duty Trappistes Rochefort 8 and continued on my merry drinking way.

So when I recently learned that craft brewery and bastions of cask-aged beer Innis & Gunn had decided to release its own fruit beer under the brand name Melville’s Craft Lager, I was intrigued though slightly skeptical.

Melville’s Raspberry Craft Lager

The lager is made from a standard base (British malt, hops, yeast and water) that is infused with cold pressed berry juice from juice producer Ella Drinks. The company has released a strawberry and raspberry flavour, both of which I have sampled, and both of which will now be permanently available in Tesco and in Scottish Sainsbury’s branches for around the £1.70 mark.

My preferred choice was the raspberry version. It’s a heady, thickly sweet drink but with elements of an almost treacle-like flavour and an instant rush of sharp raspberry to counter the sugary side. It’s quite a punchy drink for a fruit beer – it’s not watered down or too sickly, though it is definitely going to be too much for those that like their lagers drier. The flavour of Swedish Berries (a North American candy) was also present. I wanted to be sat on a lawn chair in the sun drinking this one.

Stawberry delight anyone?

The strawberry version took the sugar level further and I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who would choose a starter over a sweet at dinner – those with a greater love of their savoury taste buds might revolt. It saves itself, however, from falling into the sugar syrup, tweenie drinks (WKD anyone?) by having a lovely, bitter twang right at the end which balances things out a bit better. Strawberry foams from pick n mix, or Haribo strawberry sours dominate.

Both are quality craft lagers, which one can tell have been flavoured with real fruit and not any sugar additives. While they’re sweet, they’re enjoyable.

It’s an interesting move for Innis & Gunn – with its following by lager aficionados (especially in Canada where it seems to be immensely popular) it seems somewhat strange to move into this other market. Equally, it will give the company a wider remit by targeting a very different demographic. And, as the bottle does not say ‘Innis & Gunn’ anywhere on the label many may not even realise the tie-in.

And although I won’t reach for them as a staple beer, I enjoyed the raspberry enough to keep a bottle or two around for when I’m looking for something a bit sweeter than my normal bitters and ales. Which, given my normal dislike of fruit beer, says a lot.

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8 Responses to “Innis & Gunn get fruity”

  1. G-LO September 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    For the longest time, I took the “don’t fruit up my beer” stance, but when you find one that is well crafted, it can be a delightful change of pace. As long as they stay away from becoming sickly sweet, I tend to enjoy them. Founders Cerise which is sour cherry infused and Dogfish Head Festina Peche which is a peach nectar infused Berlinerweisse are both infinitely drinkable on a hot summer day. I’ll have to keep a look out for these since I’m always looking for something new to try.

    You mentioned the Rochefort 8. I had a bottle in my hand yesterday, but decided to hold off on the purchase since I was already buying 2 big bottles at the time (a Black IPA from Firestone Walker and a Stone 16th Anniversary beer). I MUST try this!

    Cheers!
    G-LO

    • gwiltypleasures September 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

      Yes, definitely, DEFINITELY try the Rochefort 8. Great staple (or, at least it can be over here where it’s probably way more affordable). And thanks for the recommendations on fruit beers. If I can find them, I’ll try ’em out and let you know!

      Cheers!

      • G-LO September 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

        I will make it a point to pick up a bottle this weekend. The interwebz have been abuzz with this beer! I MUST HAVE IT!

        Cheers!
        G-LO

  2. Jarrod s. December 15, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    Love Innis & gunn! All flavors but I can no longer get the blue label blond here in nd Calgary Canada that was the first beer I tried and can no longer find it……. Please! Send blonde back to Calgary!!!!!!

  3. gwiltypleasures October 1, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    Glad you finally got the chance to try it and really liked it. Thanks for the post share 🙂

  4. G-LO October 10, 2012 at 1:39 am #

    Just realized your response to the pingback. Oopsy!

    The Rochefort 8 was fantastic! I now need to try the 6 and the 10. All in the name of research. 😉

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Beer Review Redux – Trappistes Rochefort 8 « It's just the booze dancing… - October 1, 2012

    […] kept mentioning how much they love the Trappistes Rochefort 8 wherever I turned on the interwebz (the blogs, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) a couple weeks ago, I thought it was about time that I finally gave this […]

  2. Best of the Foodie Blogs: Ten at Ten (36) | Foodies 100 - April 4, 2013

    […] all those cakes, you’ll probably need a drink. How about some Innis & Gunn fruit beer? Alwynne from Gwiltypleasures, a who is a self-confessed non-lover of fruit beers, tests out the […]

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