Tired of your everyday average holiday beer? Yearning for something new to celebrate your festive mood and brighten those dark and dismal days of winter? Fear not, true believer, for the folks at Fort Collins, Colorado's New Belgium Brewing Company have something special for you. Just prepared to shell out quite a bit extra for it.
The beer I'm talking about, of course, is New Belgium Frambozen, a brown ale brewed with raspberry juice. The beer is bright and cheery with plenty of fruit flavor to cut through the bleakness of winter. It's slightly higher in alcohol content than most beers at 6.5% alcohol by volume, and made with pale malt and Target hops. it's actually one of two holiday ales New Belgium brews up along with 2 Degrees Below Ale.
New Belgium Frambozen is a Belgian-inspired beer, and reminds me of the dark Liefman's sour brown ales made with cherries. It is not, however, a truly Belgian beer. No worries there; as long as the beer is good, I'll drink it. And I must confess that this one is good.
New Belgium Frambozen pours to a reddish brown color with a light but very creamy head formation and a sour raspberry nose. A thick layer of Brussels lace clings to the sides of my glass as the liquid descends. The palate is smooth and creamy, slightly chocolaty and a little nutty from the sweet, soft, and seductive brown ale notes. But the beer is very fruity as well, and quite tart with bright raspberry character. In the finish, there's more tartness, and that makes the beer extremely quenching, indeed.
I like this beer very much, and could easily see myself drinking lots of it, especially around the holidays. The bright spicy berry notes go very well with the dark brown ale maltiness, and the tartness rounds everything out and balances nicely.
On it's own merits, I'd give it four stars I think, but I'm knocking off a half star for the price: at $11.99 a six-pack from Total Wine (and they are generally very reasonable), New Belgium Frambozen is way overpriced. I might pick up a single now and again, but this isn't a beer I'd buy in quantity for that very reason. This isn't a high strength beer, it's not even fermented with whole berries as a true Belgian Framboise might be. It's brewed with juice, folks.
In my book, this one would be more realistic at $8.99 a six-pack. At $11.99, I would be more inclined to go with a genuine Belgian fruit beer instead.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.