One fast way to pick the beer snob out of a crowd is to see who knows how to say raspberry, cheery and peach in Flemish (the answer is frambozen, kriek and peche). Unlike the Germans whose ancient purity laws (the Reinheitsgebot was enacted in 1516 and replaced with the Provisional Beer Law in 1993) keep a strict lid on what brewers can put in their beer, the Belgians will experiment with any damn thing and fruit has worked out very well for them:
Usually based on lambik beers, [fruit beers] are a particular Belgian speciality. They can be made in a variety of ways, but the most traditional is to add whole fruit to barrels of beer undergoing their long secondary fermentation.. The fruit sugars start fermenting and by the end of the process the fruit will have almost totally disappeared. Beers made by this method, though they may well have quite a strong aroma of the fruit, are often remarkably unfruity in taste. Neither are they sweet, as a result of the fruit having spent a long time fermenting and maturing with the beer.
The best are delightfully subtle combinations of beer, wine and cider that are almost as difficult to describe and categorise as they are delicious to drink. Cantillon Kriek (cherry) and, if you are lucky enough to ever find it, Cantillon Frambozen (raspberry) are the very pinnacle of the brewing art.
Raspberry beer, frambozens, seem to appear most often because the rasbperry has a tart, mild sweetness that translates very well to beer. I have fond memories of the New Belgium frambozen, which shocked the hell out of the college-age me for lacking the cloying sweetness that Americans expect in fruit-flavored alcoholic beverages.
In fact, New Belgium had brewed one of the most unique and delicious things I had ever tried at that time. Unfortunately you’ll have to look for it in the western US between October and December.
In Belgium proper you’ll find an intimidating array of styles and brewers. The Lindemans brewery has staked a reputation as a maker of excellent fruit beers, and if your bar carries Belgian beer you shouldn’t have a hard time finding the Lindeman’s Framboise.
Today’s non-beer alternative is a gratuitous shout-out for the bottle of Talisker 10 yr. that my wife bought me for Christmas. I am in heaven.
Yes, I’ve heard [of Talisker]. Kills men by the hundreds. And if HE were here,
he’d consume the English with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning
from his arse