I'm less likely to drink a stout than a session ale, or saison, or radler. And now, I may just reach for another thirst-satisfying brew: a raspberry ale.
But which raspberry ale would I reach for first? Over the past couple of weeks, I've had a chance to try two: one, which was given to me by my 13-year-old daughter, who picked out the bottle on her own, to give to me for Father's Day; the other, a raspberry beer that I picked out in a Gatineau shop, to enjoy as I celebrated St-Jean Baptiste Day (a Québec holiday, but for me, a day to relax and sip great ale).
It's an Ontario ale over a Québec beer.
In this post, I examined each of these tart treats in great detail, and we shall see which one beats out the other.
I started with the ale that my daughter bought me.
Raspberry Über Berliner Style Weisse (3.8% ABV)Appearance: a murky, pinkish-red, like a ruby-red grapefruit cocktail, or red Kool-Aid, or a red sangria with a pink fruit juice and a splash or red wine. The head is a bright pink that fizzes and bubbles, and sat on top like a fresh-poured soda and vanished just as quickly. After the bubbles let go of the side of the glass, you're left with a faint effervescence. Some sediment was left at the bottom of the bottle.
Nickel Brook Brewing Company
Nose: candied raspberries.
Palate: sweet and tart raspberries come on strong. And even though fresh Ontario raspberries are used in the brewing process, I felt that I could taste something artificial, as though something more was added to enhance the fruit flavour. This flavour did not detract from the overall enjoyment of this German-styled ale—it is solidly enjoyable: tasty, refreshing, and clean, with no cloying finish.
Overall impression: my darling daughter chose this ale for me, and she chose well. When I first tried it, I knew that this would be a great beverage to quench my thirst on a hot day. This is a perfect alternative to a grapefruit or lemon radler, and I recommend this for a great summer beer.
Beer O'Clock rating: 4
The second raspberry beer comes from one of my favourite Québec brewers. I knew I was going to like it because I haven't had a beer from this company that I didn't like. But would I love it? And, would I love it more than the Nickel Brook raspberry beer?
Let's find out.
Solstice d'été Raspberry Strong Beer (5.9% ABV)Appearance: unfiltered, bright-red, with a brilliant, pink head that also settles to nothing, like soda. Lots of large bubbles cling to the sides of the glass (do I need to clean my glasses better?), and when they're gone, all that's left is a fine effervescence. Small pieces of actual raspberry fruit settle at the bottom of the glass.
Brasserie Dieu du Ciel!
Nose: this brew was fairly closed, at first, but slowly revealed its fresh raspberries.
Palate: sour, tart raspberries, which carry all the way to the finish. No alcohol is detected, which could make this a dangerous brew if you're used to lighter fruit ales and radlers. This drinks like a fizzy raspberry soda, without any sweetness. The sourness makes the fruit pop in your mouth, and if you bite into a piece of the fruit, the raspberry flavour is amplified. I looked forward to finding a piece in my mouth as I sipped my drink.
Overall impression: I'm not typically a fan of sour ales, but with the tart raspberries, I can't imagine this ale any other way. I loved those pieces of raspberries. This ale, as its name states, is a summer-solstice-inspired treat, and is made especially for this season.
Beer O'Clock rating: 4.5
So, which raspberry beer did I prefer? As you can see, the Dieu du Ciel choice squeaked ahead in the ratings, but only because of that sour punch and the real-fruit flavour burst when I chewed on the raspberry bits. But I would happily grab for both in the liquor store. I didn't see Über in Broue Ha Ha*, where I bought the Dieu du Ciel; likewise, I didn't see Solstice d'été in the LCBO. So it all comes down to where I pick up my beer—on which side of the border I shop.
Either way, you can't lose.
* Broue Ha Ha is open on Canada Day; the LCBO isn't.