|... and everyone know: Strawberry, Strawberry is the neighborhood ho.|
I'm a fan of fruit beers like I'm a fan of Steve Carrell, a comedian who is genius at times, terrible at others, but overall, average and palatable; nice wholesome, clean fun -- like safe sex with your other after catching an episode of Mad About You on TBS. You get it.
Because fruit beers are mostly unoffensive, they're also pretty ordinary and unadventurous. A blueberry or raspberry beer will taste like toast with alcoholic jam, for example -- quite an ordinary thing to eat for breakfast when there is a world of eggs benedict and chicken and waffles out there, amirite?
Typically, the base-style of a fruit beer is a wheat ale, which exacerbates the generally tepid feelings I have about them, wheat beers being the vodka of the brew-world in that you can just about make them taste however you want with just a touch of this and a dab of that.
Fortunately, in this instance, I am discussing Short's Brewing from waay up north in the boondocks of Mitten-chigan. Short's is a brewing company that really pushes the boundaries of flavors and chemistry. These are the geniuses who brew beers like Key Lime Pie, Smoked Apple Ale, Spruce Pils (made by using blue spruce tips), and Bloody Beer (Bloody Mary style beer with tomato, horseradish, and celery) to name just a few of their creative samplings. They are exactly the type of company that makes the grind and expense of beer hunting a fun prospect, when at times it feels like wading through the same Pale Ale over and over. And although some of their recipes fall a bit short (mind the pun!), their creativity and unmistakable ambition for crafting great beer makes me taste their product with a forgiving palate. Strawberry Short's Cake, for example.
Immediately after popping the cap, the scent of muddled strawberries hits in the foam nose pretty firmly and then again even stronger in the liquid itself. Short's Cake is made with milk sugar, which is the same lactose as you would find in a milk stout -- which anyone who's a fan of that style would know -- makes the beer creamy and sweet without being syrupy. Its a wonderful ingredient, and it is not at all lost in this beer. The milk sugar combined with very blatant shortbread notes make this fruit beer not so much a summertime sipper -- even though, sure, it could very well be -- but more of a fruit "stout", in that the beer has a very thick, dense flavor, but also delicate enough to eat after a meat-and-potatoes kind of meal. The people of the heartland are kind of into that. They know their stuff.
Acquired: Jack's Market, Traverse City, MI