Big Rock and Driftwood breweries go bold and fruity
By Taylor Pitt, Production Assistant
Welcome back to the Other Brew! This week I’m trying Big Rock Brewery’s Cherry Bomber, a cherry-flavoured Hefeweizen Ale. Since cherry is one of many flavours seen in wheat ales, but one I hadn’t yet tried, I just had to pick this one up. Besides, it’s a seasonal offering, and the end of summer is coming up surprisingly fast.
Cherry Bomber pours a cloudy-pink colour, topped by two fingers of bubbly white head, with just a hint of pink laced on top. The bubbles are very loose, and once they settle it leaves an almost soapy ring around the inside of the glass. It has a smell that immediately catches you off guard. It’s like a bakery or a small candy store, and smells heavily of bready wheat and caramel malts, cherry taffy candy or syrup, yeast, and then of a hint of flowery hops.
Its taste is much of the same: like a cherry strudel took a trip through one of Willy Wonka’s magical machines and ended up in a beer. Extremely unusual, on par with the Lays Cinnamon Bun potato chips currently going around, but not in a bad way (much like the chips). The beer has a sugary-yet-earthy, cake-like flavour that leaves you confused but wanting more. I’m not sure I’ll ever buy the same bottle again, but for the night I spent with it, I appreciated it. Big Rock Brewing Company’s Cherry Bomber is available for around $5.75 in Lower Mainland speciality liquor stores—for a limited time only.
Next up is the Belle Royale Wild Sour Cherry Ale from Driftwood Brewery. Now, this beer is much stronger, coming in at eight per cent. The label art implies a very dark, earthy flavour. It also lists the ingredients in the beer, but I don’t want to spoil one of the ingredients listed. If you purchase Belle Royale, don’t look at the ingredients first. Save them until after you’ve had the beer—I promise it’ll be worth it.
Belle Royale pours a deep cherry red, much like a wine, and did not produce much of a head. A tiny white ring of foam sits on top of the beer. A bold aroma, entirely made of cherries, makes itself noticed first. None of the beer’s more subtle notes are able to come out in the smell.
The first sip has an intensely sour cherry flavour, overpowering the taste of beer and making itself something else immediately. However, sweet notes and complex fruity complements are there to balance the otherwise bitter flavour, allowing the beer to truly reveal itself over time. Beneath it all is a somewhat funky taste that can’t be placed, and at first I was going to mark the beer down for this. On the other hand, I’ve read the ingredients now, so I’m going to say that I approve of the funk. Undoubtedly odd, it’s a taste that I feel is very precise, and has been well-executed. It’s not a beer to drink with friends at a party though, and is best enjoyed alone and sipped at over time.
The masterful combination of flavours that Driftwood has put together isn’t going to appeal to most people, and the price of $12 a bottle is sure to put off a lot of customers who would want to try it. However, I highly recommend this as a one-time purchase for anyone with curious taste buds and a love of beer.