Fruli, Madli, Deepli: Fruli – Strawberry Beer

fruli (Case Conflict)

Are you afraid of the taste of beer?  Even the taste of crappy industrial “ice” lager that provides respite to the majority of drinkers in this country – respite from unfulfilled lives and wives, despair, dashed hopes and the reality of working for a living?

Are WKD, Alco-pops and all that sort of thing more to your taste?  If they are, you’re going to love Fruli Strawberry Beer.

Ok, so maybe I’m getting a bit carried away…it’s not that bad, but it’s also not that good…and either way, it’s tooth-achingly sweet.

Fruli is a Belgian white (Wit) beer with strawberry of some sort or another added to it.  When poured out Fruli has a nice tight white head, a pinkish hazy colour and a little carbonation.

The aroma is that of a bag of strawberry penny sweeties, there’s also a sort-of faint yeastiness in the aroma too, but quite honestly it might as well be sherbert.  (Are sweeties still a penny?  My two kids are too young to be trusted with money, the eldest just drops it on the floor or throws it into streams and the youngest tries to eat it.  Consequently we haven’t got to the “blow all your pocket money on sweets” stage)

The taste is all strawberries and not much else, but more like a strawberry syrup added to some lightish, sweetish beer. There’s a bit of pippiness, some orange and cherry notes and a bit of a bitter twang at the end, but not much else.  Mercifully there’s a dryish finish.

I can’t say this is a great beer…but interestingly enough I think it’d work as an adult’s ice-cream soda sort of thing.  Ice cold Fruli with a scoop of vanilla ice cream floating in it might make an interesting dessert or treat on a summer’s day; I’d imagine most kids would dig that too.  But remember, DON’T give alcohol to children.  Calpol will do the job just as nicely, thanks very much.

Polly, It’s a Cracker: Oakham Ales – Scarlet Macaw

unnamedOakham ales, would you like to employ a beer taster?  I’d be very interested in getting an in on some of your pilot batches…if they’re anything like Scarlet Macaw or Citra (

Sit back Ladies and Gentlemen and enjoy a dose of effusive, rapturous, reviewing:

Scarlet Macaw arrives in the glass a beautifully clear orangey-yellow colour.  An initial head quickly fizzles off to form smallish pure white islands of foam.

There isn’t a massive aroma, but this ain’t no IPA so that’s to be expected. Sweet grains dominate with some hoppiness which is all English pale soft summer fruit goodness (think goosegogs, whitecurrants, etc.).

The taste is a great big bold mouthful: BIG flavours. A solid maltiness leads through to a fleeting dash of sweetness, followed by a powerful underscoring bitterness – both of which go to produce a very satisfying and pervasive after taste.  The hops appear all along this taste curve: Amarillo punctuating the bitterness to reveal overtones of roasted oranginess and Summit crouching in the background with it’s really chewy resinous, dank notes.

The great thing about Scarlet Macaw is that it’s just so damn well put together that you really have too tease apart the taste to identify all of these different tastes, flavours and textures.  This is another one of those “thinker”, rather than purely “drinker” beers.

Marvellous. Other brewers should take note. This is how you make English beer in 2014.  No pretension or pandering to the US styles.

Boom.  English craft brewing in a glass.

The question is, will I ever find an Oakham beer that I don’t like?  It’ll be a tough job, but one I’m happy to take on…

(See I managed to not even mention the slightly gormless-looking Macaw on the label.  Shhhh, Jon.)

Might make you “love” a horse: Green Jack Ales – Baltic Trader Export Stout

Baltic-TraderImperial/Export Stout is one of those styles that I’ve always been seduced by, I mean there’s so much history, flavour and strength in every interpretation.  Catherine the Great of Russia was a big fan of the style, after her husband Peter (another “the Great”) discovered the joy of British beers whilst on tour over here.  Unfortunately History doesn’t record the name of his band – mores the pity.  If I were him I would have just called my band “The Greats”.  The Greats: Greatest hits.  Does that work?


Anyway: Well done Green Jack Ales – this is a nice interpretation, albeit drunk on the rather young side.

Let’s face it: you don’t normally get much head on an strong stout like this, but you get a jolly bit of carbonation – which I wasn’t necessarily expecting, but it fitted OK.  The colour is gloriously dark, but not impenetrable, darkest garnet is discernible around the edges when held up to the light.

The taste is all heavy dark malt, with very significant alcohol and vinosity, there’s also wood, roastiness, black treacle and darkly-dark dried fruits. Sweetly malty with some rumminess, Christmas cake, spices and just the gentlest of bitter-citrussy orange in the background.

It’s very sweet for a day-to-day beer, but probably about right for an imperial stout of this size, style and age.

This is a complex drop.  The bottle that Peter and I shared – not Peter the Great, but Peter the father-in-law, who’s obviously still great…  (my knees are all blood, he forked out for this bottle) – was brewed 18th July 2013 and bottled nearly two months later so it’s still VERY young in Imperial/Export Stout terms.

I was also happy to see that there was no best before date – meaning that that this bottle could well be laid down for a lot longer – which would probably allow it to dry out a bit, become less sweet and become even more complex.  I reckon a year would be good for starters. (That’s “laid down” metaphorically speaking: it’s got a sediment, so for god’s sake, keep it up upright)

At 10.5% it’s dangerously drinkable, ruinously strong and – happy days – comes in a 750ml bottle.   Look at all their other beers.  Don’t they look tempting.?


(Catherine the Great was proud that she could drink as much high-strength Imported Stout as any Englishman; which might have contributed to her alleged penchance for horse-based sexual shenanigans – a predilection that purportedly sealed her demise: being supposedly crushed to death under the sweating, heaving flanks of an equine partner…)

Pink-Elephants on Parade: Brouwerij Huyghe – Delerium Tremens


Of all places, I bought this beer in the Rose and Crown in Charlbury.  I only mention that as I feel people ought to mention the Rose and Crown more – after all they’ve been CAMRA’s North Oxfordshire pub of the year on many occasions, and do a pretty mean beer festival too.  Naturally, having the odd bottled Belgian hanging about tends to raise their profile in my eyes as well…

Delerium Tremens pours a strong off-yellow colour, looks the part – but has a head that just winks and disappears away.  The aroma is all warmly alcoholic maltiness with those typical Belgian spicy phenols:  sweet, spicy, bubblegum and a malic acid-sort-of-appliness also shows.

In the mouth Delerium Tremens is strongly effervescent with an almost vinous note, there’s sweet malt and spice and tongue-numbing alcohol.  All very Belgian and peppery spice, with a little side dose of sweetness from the malt.

The aftertaste is dryish, with a reasonably satisfying bitterness.

I think that a beer of this size should a bit more complex, I mean it’s nice enough – but it’s not enough to wow…especially when the bottle promises so much.  And yes, you will see plenty of pink elephants if you drink enough of this.  It’s 8.5%.  Lordy.