Driftwood’s done it again.

Their spring seasonal, Spring Rite, was nothing short of spectacular. Well, now their summer seasonal is out and it, too, is unlike anything else being brewed in the province.

Sexually suggestive labelling at its best. Note that the left cherry hangs slightly lower than the right.

If you’re not in to fruit beers, don’t just skip this one. I don’t normally like fruit beers either. After all, what am I, a sugar-addicted little snot-nosed kid with ADD, a severe video-game addiction and an ever-present can of Coke in my hand who wants everything in the world to taste as sweet as possible? If you want a Frutopia, you should be looking for a time machine to 1994, not for your local craft brewery.

Well, I was a little worried that this beer was going to be an alcoholic Fruitopia. In the glass it looks a lot like a rosé and the aroma is like a bowl of dark cherries backed up by some vanilla phenolics that give the impression of sweetness, so I was ready for this beer to be downright treacly. I braced myself against the cloying sweetness I expected, but the first sip showed it to be shockingly dry. A blast of dark cherries hit me with maybe the tiniest hit of sourness and more vanilla. Vanilla in the aftertaste again leaves you with the impression of sweetness — but no actual sweetness. The high level of carbonation scrubs your palate nicely and the beer finishes crisp, leaving you ready for another sip. The cherries do a great job of masking the alcohol in the taste of this 9% beer, but the warm feeling that comes with each sip lets you know that you’re doing the right thing with your life by drinking it.

From a brewing perspective, the label says that each bottle contains half a pound of Morello sour cherries, which is a ridiculous amount of fruit. To take a wild guess, I’d say that maybe 1/4 of the fermentable sugars in this beer come from the cherries. Yeast likes fructose and more highly-fermentable sugar makes a beer less sweet, which helps explain why this beer is so dry.

I can’t imagine that this batch will last long. Get out to your local bottle shop and pick one up before they’re all gone. Unless you’re a complete cherry fiend, I recommend splitting a bottle with at least one friend; this is a big beer and that cherry flavour isn’t exactly subtle. I imagine it’d get pretty overwhelming if you tried to plow through a whole 650 ml bottle on your own. You’d be a fool to miss the experience of drinking at least half a bottle, though.

I bet this beer would be amazing with a dark chocolate dessert. Someone try having one of these with a chocolate molten cake and let me know how it is.

Now I can’t wait until fall! What’s Driftwood going to come out with next?

- Ben

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