Review: Frambozen, New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium Brewing Co. — Fort Collins, CO

  • Style:  Brown Ale
  • Bitterness:  15.5 IBU
  • ABV:  6.5%
  • Malts:  Pale
  • Hops:  Target
  • Special Ingredients:  Raspberry Juice
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle
  • Calories:  200 per 12 oz.

Description: "Frambozen begins with the aroma of fresh red raspberries, followed by the ripe seductiveness of a fruity brown ale with depth and delicate malt notes. It is deep ruby in color, with flavors just as rich. Every year, New Belgium sends a delegate to the Pacific Northwest to oversee the process of turning freshly picked berries into a pure juice to be added in fermentation. The coming of Thanksgiving at New Belgium is ushered in with the first sighting of our cellar operators scuttling about, covered head to tow in a festive crimson berry wash." —New Belgium Brewing Co. 

Random thoughts:  Raspberry is a great fruit to use in beer. It's tart and adds a little sweetness. I made my own Raspberry Wheat homebrew this summer. In addition to Frambozen (which I added to my lineup of special holiday beer treats), New Belgium recently released Snow Day as their new winter seasonal. 

The tasting:  Reddish brown, but when held up to the light, it's a brilliant garnet color. It's clear, sports an off white head that dissipates fairly quickly, and has minimal effervescence floating though the glass. Aroma of raspberry, toasted malt, and spicy hops—but the raspberry dominates. In flavor, the raspberry is front and center. It surprised me a bit, as I expected the fruit to be subtle. The raspberry is both sweet and tart and is followed by a healthy dose of grassy hop bitterness. Frambozen is light to medium bodied, has a slightly prickly mouth feel, and finishes with (surprise) raspberry and grassy hops.

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!  My biggest gripe about beers with fruit is that the fruit is usually too subtle. Not the case with Frambozen. If anything, the raspberry flavor was a bit too strong. As a result, the malt flavors were lost to me. However, this was not a major flaw and I really enjoyed this beer. I appreciate winter seasonals that are unique, and this certainly is. If you like raspberry and can still find Frambozen, give it a try!

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