Fruit beer is, of course, an acquired taste. many a fan of a Boring Brown Bitter might well turn their nose up as anything remotely fruity, and for many, these beers represent a violation of the very principles of ale – not only are they stuffed with fruity flavourings (thus interfering with the purity of the brewing process) but they also seem too close the infamous alcopop in style – appealing to an audience that has no respect or desire for ‘proper’ beer.
Such arguments are a nonsense, of course. My main issue with many a fruit flavoured beer has been simply that they all too often seem to have only had a passing acquaintance with the fruit in question – many a ‘raspberry ale’ at a beer festival has proven a let down.
There are no such complaints about Samuel Smith’s Organic Cherry fruit beer, which on first taste hits you with such a strong cherry flavour that it almost – but not quite – overwhelms the actual beer taste. It finally manages to get the combination exactly right. This is ultra sweet, with a bitter aftertaste that makes it deceptively drinkable – at 5.1%, it is hardly wuss strength, yet you could knock this back very quickly – a few bottles on hand might be a dangerous thing.
According to the label, the beer is handcrafted in ‘a time warp’ – that is, a traditional, manually operated brewery – and then transferred to Sam Smiths’ Tadcaster brewery and blended with organic cherry juice. Clearly, the whole thing is designed to give a sense of tradition – as reflected by the label – and authenticity. That’s all well and good, but in the end it is the taste that counts, and this beer tastes great.
If you don’t enjoy a fruit beer, then this is probably not going to convert you. But if you have a taste for such things, then you should seek this out immediately. It’s probably the best fruit beer I’ve tasted.