There are many qualities of beer that are perfect for the summer heat; quenching bitterness, refreshing carbonation, fresh hoppy flavors, and tantalizing sweetness. Wait.. Sweetness? Does that really belong here? Grab a right-out-of-the-fridge bottle of Samuel Smith’s Organic Raspberry Ale and prove it to yourself.
Sweet can be exactly what you want in the heat. Given the right combination of sweet, cold, fresh, quenching and carbonation you can end up with the perfect summer delight. Samuel Smith has been brewing beer since 1758, and is Yorkshire’s oldest brewery – so these guys certainly aren’t just messing around. This beer was crafted with organic barley, wheat, raspberry fruit juice and a previously cellared organic beer. The end result is a USDA Organic raspberry beer that will show you the meaning of sweetness for the summer.
The Sam Smith Organic Raspberry comes in a 550ml bottle at 5.1% abv and is at most LCBOs. And unlike so many fruit beers, this is not a Lambic (a classic Belgian style where the fermenting beer is left exposed to wild yeast strains in the enviroment. This creates a richly tart, and often sour beer that is often sweetened with fruit or fruit juice). The Organic Raspberry can really only be classified as a Fruit Beer. It is brewed with both malted barley and wheat, and then is blending with organic raspberry juice.
Open the Raspberry cold, just out of the fridge and pour it into a nice full pint or nonic glass. This beer will rush out of the bottle in a big wave of excitement and build a frothy foam right from the get-to. By the end of the pour I had a dark cherry-red beer with hints of rich amber brown and ruby glowing out of the center holding up a massively fluffy, light pink head with large evaporating bubbles streaming throughout it.
This big fluffy head did not last long – it was bursting with excitement, literally. Every second I looked at the beer delicate pink bubbles of carbonation were exploding and soon there was just a mere film remaining on the beer. Still though, the depth and richness of this red beer was very enticing. Time to drink it.
The nose is filled with the fresh scent of raspberries and a gentle whiff of wheat. A fruity, and overall sugary sweetness dominates the aroma so far. There is a hint of lemon zest and dark fruit tartness that lingers in the back, but give way to no malt or hop presence.
The nose pretty much tells it all because the flavor mimics it perfectly. A cold wave of raspberry sweet beer will glide easily over your tongue and fall to your cheeks with a smooth and gentle softness. Quickly in behind is the tart quench of lemon peel, spice and wheat. The freshness of the wheat adds a nice quenching characteristic to the beer, but plays much less of a role than you would expect. The raspberry is really the mainstay here.
Its comes in up front and washes over your entire mouth with a sweet-first, then lightly tart with a hint sour fruitiness. It is not close to as sour or tart as a fruit Lambic, but is it just a sweet as one can be. Searching for malt is hopeless, but a hint of herbal and lightly bitter hops do make their way in for a fleeting finish of sweet and crisp blackberries.
The mouthfeel is gentle and also less carbonated that a lambic would be, but this is an English Ale, so you shouldn’t expect effervescence. It is very rich in flavor, but remains subtly light in body. Something this sweet will work very well with chocolate deserts and cheesecake, but as I mentioned earlier, it will be excellent on its own in the heat.