I’m doing these beers together because – well, their labels suggest I should. And that’s by design. The label for Black and Blue was done by David Larned, a Pennsylvania painter who studied for a time in Florance, Italy before finishing at the University of Pennsylvania. His wife, Sarah painted the label for Red and White. But that’s just about all these two beers have in common, as they’re both nods to totally separate styles. Let’s Taste.
THEM: Black and Blue ($13.99/750mL bottle)is Belgian-style golden ale from a malt recipe stand point and then it’s fermented with real puree of black raspberries and blueberries. The beer shares the same yeast strain with Red and White, and Pangaea (which sadly I wasn’t able to get my hands on for this months round of reviews). Sam states that the benefit of using real fruit instead of artificial flavors is that the real fruit allows you to get the fruit in the flavor and not just the aroma. Black and Blue clocks in at a respectable 10%ABV and has 25IBUs.
Red and White ($13.99/750mL bottle) from a beer perspective can be thought of as a Belgian white with some red wine nuances brought on by the addition of pinot noir juice in the fermenter. The beer contains coriander and orange peel as you might expect. Sam than twists the beer a bit by aging a portion of it in oak tanks. The finished beer also contains 10%ABV, but clocks in at a slightly higher 35IBUs.
ME: First Black and Blue. The beer has a beautiful berry red color to it with a ring of white bubbles around the edge of the glass. The nose is pretty much as it say on the label, gobs of raspberry with hints of blueberry peeking through. The flavor is more of the same with bold fruit and a clean crisp finish with just an ever so light kiss of tartness. If beer labels were subject to truth in advertising laws, DFH would have nothing to worry about here. This beer is exactly as described. I would compare it to a raspberry lambic along the lines of a LIndeman’s Framboise, great berry taste, but not as tart on the back end as some other Framboise I’ve had. Of course, that’s not a straight ahead comparison as for me the raspberry takes more center stage here, but I think there’s enough commonality that I can make the comparison pretty confidently.
Red and White. Well this is a whole other beer. Amber through the center of the glass and with carbonation/head that pretty much is on point with Black and Blue, but that’s where the similarities end. I could see this beer going south with the addition of the wood, which is probably why DFH only ages a fraction of the beer in oak. Everything is there that would remind you of a white ale, the coriander, the orange. There’s a little roundness in the middle that I’d attribute to the grape juice, but nothing here screams “grapes!” to me. For the record, that’s a good thing. The wood is subdued. In fact, I can’t even pick it up unless I’m restrained from putting the glass up to my nose for a few minutes. It’s got a touch of sweetness to it (for the record I’m not good at judging the whole “sweet” thing sometimes, I blame the years of my youth spent downing 4 liters of real coca-cola every day) but it’s not making my fillings itch by any means. The finish is clean and not overly bitter and it leaves your mouth with a nice little smack of something that I’d almost describe as honey at the end. I gave the glass to Tracey (remember, white ale fan) anticipating that I might not get it back and her thoughts that it was a nice white ale, but the added complexity would make it something that she’d enjoy drinking all year round, not just in the summer months. Hmmm, maybe she should be writing this blog.
After doing this for a month I’m really starting to understand why I don’t like ratings. You really have to come in with a clean and concise understanding of what your ratings mean and then strictly adhere to them. Over the past month I’ve kind of danced on the line a bit. Sometimes I’ve rated beers on just where I though they stood in the DFH catalog and other times I’ve adjusted them knowing that the beer I was rating might not be something that everyone would want to buy a 4-PACK of only to find out that one was enough.
Black and Blue throws me into a tizzy. I love this beer and would give it a CASE. But understand, although I’m not big on fruit beers, I love raspberries, and have a HUGE soft spot when it comes to blueberries in a beer. Maybe it was the several trips I took to Maine where they put blueberries in…well, just about everything. This thing hits the two fruits on point, and I think it would absolutely rock with a piece of chocolate cake. However, if I was to continue to rate beers beyond this point I’d add what I’d call a “Recommendation Rating”, and that would be a TASTER. This might not be for everyone, especially you testosterone laden, hop heads. That being said, if what I’ve described appeals to you, then by all means pick up a bottle. You’ll be happy you did.
Red and White is a 6-PACK (or in this case a bomber bottle), it’s a solid beer with its touch of wood and its impeccable balance, but going CASE would be just to much. That being said, nothing says you have to stop at one bottle and remember, Tracey says it’s good all year round (Who am I to argue) so since it’s brewed only once a year, maybe you should a keep a couple bottles around for later.
Time for another beer…