Framboise du Nord by August Schell Brewing
Framboise du Nord dropped into our lives thanks to a recommendation from Tom Boland over at Elevated Beer, Wine, & Spirits. Our request was for a beer, wine, or spirit that would complement homemade sushi made from Coastal Seafoods fish, and Framboise du Nord ($15) was Boland’s out-of-the-box but intriguing suggestion.
The beer is the Schell’s take on a Berliner Weisse beer, plus fruit syrup; the addition of raspberry or woodruff syrup is a German tradition meant to ameliorate the beer’s sometimes intensely sour flavor. It’s part of the brewery’s 2013-launched Noble Star Collection meant to showcase interpretations of the Berliner Weisse style.
Framboise du Nord is, in a nutshell, a 70-barrel batch of Star of the North Berliner Weisse plus 5,000 pounds of raspberries plus four months of aging time. The use of natural fruit (as opposed to flavored syrup) means that there actually isn’t much sweetness to this beer; where, for example, a New Glarus Raspberry Tart breaks a bit sweet on the finish, Framboise du Nord breaks resolutely sour. The raspberry flavor is pronounced but not loud or bullying, and it’s clean and natural with just a bit of funk to add depth to the dry, yeasty, cloudy base profile.
The beer’s color is pink, almost shockingly so, making it a strong contender for a Valentine’s Day beer for drinkers who can handle a bit of chaos. The whole package (which includes an exuberant effervescence) manages to be a hell of a lot of fun, minus the sugar or cloying sense of unbalance that so often marks flavored beers.
The low ABV (3.7%) means that the beer didn’t stomp on the delicate flavor of the sushi — the two were harmonious complements for one another. As brewing experiments go, this one was an engaging success.