James Squire is a name we’ll come back to quite often on this blog. More details in another post, but despite being part of the Lion Nathan conglomerate they brew some of the better beers that are easily acquired in Sydney.
They also do some seasonal and special brews. Looking in Amato’s cold room a few weeks ago I came across some bottles of their Mad Brewers’ Raspberry Wheat Beer. One came home with me.
I’ve drunk fruit beers before. A Cantillon, 3 Fonteinen or Boon Kriek (Cherry) is always welcome, and their Frambozen (Raspberry) beers are usually ok too, but often fruit beers are too sweet for me and made with extracts rather than using actual fruit, which makes them taste unnatural to my buds. I remember at my first Great British Beer Festival (1992) my mate Rob ordered a Banana Beer that was so horrible that three strong men could not finish the 250ml bottle. But I reasoned that this beer was (a) a relatively classic style (wheat-based rather than lambic, but not that odd), and (b) by someone with a good track record for other beers, so it should be worth a go. It couldn’t be worse than Fruli, surely.
The bottle, then. It’s a 640ml “longneck”, and comes with a sub-Ralph Steadman label proclaiming that this will “make you think differently about beer”. Hmm.
The beer is the colour of Mateus Rose, lighter than it looks in the picture above, with a reasonable light pink head that disappears quite quickly. It smells like raspberry cordial. Taking a slurp, the overwhelming taste is of boiled sweet. The advertised tartness is barely perceptible. Definite raspberry taste, but with an overlay of…mint. Yes, mint. A quick read of the label tells me that this is actually intentional, and that the beer is brewed with “extracts of raspberry and peppermint”. So no actual fruit then. And a weird fresh aftertaste, like drinking raspberry juice after you’ve cleaned your teeth. I really struggled to finish this. Too sweet, no actual beer taste under the sledgehammer raspberry cordial taste, and that mint thing was a really bad idea. Here’s one limited release (only 3,800 cases, there’s a couple of bottles in the BWS in Crow’s Nest for $9 a go if you’re desperate) that I hope won’t be coming back.
Having done my Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate last month I feel duty-bound to tell you that this beer is 5%abv, so the 640ml bottle (the only size it comes in) is 2.5 standard drinks. It gave me a slight buzzy head but that’s only because I was drinking it quick to get rid of it.