berries and beer

15 Jul

It’s officially summer here in Portland. We’ve gone over an entire week at 85 degrees, no rain, no humidity. It’s absolutely gorgeous and that means it is time to go berry picking. There is really no point in buying berries at the store here. Within 20 minutes you can be on a farm, in the sun, picking the freshest berries of the season, paying only a fraction of the cost. On Saturday, Michael and I drove to Sauvie’s Island for our first berry trip of the season. One of our favorite places to go, Columbia Farms, had Black Caps, Blueberries, Blackberries, Boysenberries, Marionberries, Currants, and two varieties of Raspberries. This was the first time we’ve seen that many berries ready to pick all at once. I think it is going to be a great season!

Well, 30 lbs of berries and a sunburn later, I decided I needed a refreshing beer to top off the day. I went to the beer fridge and saw I still had a bottle of Birra del Borgo’s Rubus. A beer made with raspberries…that seemed very fitting.

I actually have not found it all that common to find a beer brewed with fresh raspberries. I’ve had way more peach cream ales, cherry porters, and blackberry stouts. The only beer I’ve found with raspberries in the past, is framboise, a belgian lambic beer fermented with raspberries. The most available being Lindemans. However, the Rubus is advertised as a spice ale and I don’t suspect it will be as sweet as Lindemans.

Rubus comes from adding raspberries to Duchessa, Birra del Borgo’s spelt beer. YAY, for all you gluten free beer drinkers! Duchessa is a fruity, floral, peppery saison that utilizes spelt instead of barley. To make the Rubus, they added 100 grams of raspberries for every litter of beer, which seems like quite a bit to this American that doesn’t understand the metric system all that well. Anyway, the fruit helps start a wild fermentation adding some funk along with the beautiful color and aroma.

My bottle poured a slightly orange, reddish color with medium carbonation. There was a strong raspberry fruit aroma and a dry champagne crispness on the nose. As I suspected, this was a bright, fruity beer, light bodied, but not thin, with little to no hop in taste or smell. There was a slight tartness, but mostly earthiness, that came from the true raspberry flavor. It was like eating a raspberry the day before it is fully ripened – the taste of raspberry is there, but so is an earthy flavor, and it isn’t quite bursting with sugar, lending a light tartness.It had some crispness, but it was not dry, letting the earthy, fruity flavors linger a bit.

The berry flavor was not as strong as some beers that use additional flavors or syrups, but it definitely had more than a hint of raspberry. I actually expected a little more tartness after smelling the beer and because of the wild fermentation process, but maybe this will happen as some of the bottles age. Wish I had another in my cellar to try it out in a few months. This is a fruit beer for a real beer lover. It isn’t sweet or overpowering, instead the raspberry notes compliment the beer base. Its a good alternative to a rose wine and would go great with an antipasti platter.  So, if you see this one, grab a bottle or two, because as of right now, its listed as limited (brewed only once).

And in case you are still wondering what on earth we are going to do with 30 lbs of berries…since they are only available fresh for a couple months over the entire year, Michael and I have begun to gorge ourselves, eating as many as we can over the next few days, barely even eating regular meals. I’ve already started making desserts from the fresh berries, and then once they start to turn, we will freeze the rest for smoothies, oatmeal, and desserts for the rest of the year. Then, we’ll head back out to the farm next weekend to do it all again!

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