Specialty Beers & Hard Ciders

Draft Cider. Cider is made from fermented apple juice. As with wine, the character and quality of the resulting product will bear heavily on the variety and quality of the fruit used. The cooler climate of Vermont is well suited to high quality apple production, and produces a sizeable amount of quality sparkling hard cider. The finest ciders in North America may well emanate from the province of Quebec in Canada, which has an established artisinal cider industry with historical ties to Normandy cider. These Quebecois ciders are slowly starting to appear on the US market.

Herb-spiced and fruit beers. These are lagers or ales to which herbs, fruits, or spices have been added in order to impart flavor or color. Depending on whether or not the seasonings have been used in the fermentation or as an addition of juice or extract, the beer will have more or less of the desired character. These beers are highly individualistic, and allow the brewers great creativity in their formulations. They will range from mild aromatic overtones to intense and pungently flavored concoctions.

Lambics. Geueze, Fruit Lambic, Faro. Lambic beers are perhaps the most individualistic style of beer in the world. Lambics are produced in tiny quantities immediately south of the Belgian capital, Brussels. Lambic brewers use native wild yeasts in the open-air fermentation process to produce these specialties. This unusual fermentation, in conjunction with extended aging in ancient oak barrels, imparts a unique vinous character with a refreshing sourness and astonishing complexity. Lambics labeled as Gueuze are a blend of young and old beers. Such blending results in a sharp champagne-like effervescence and tart, toasty flavors. Those labeled as Faro have had sugar, caramel, or molasses added in order to impart a note of sweetness. Lambic beers, however, are more often seen in the US when they have been flavored with fruits. Kriek (cherry) and Framboise (raspberry) are the most popular and traditional fruits employed. Other exotic fruits are widely used in juice form in the more commercial examples of lambic beer, much to the consternation of purist connoisseurs.

Rauchbier. The origins of Rauchbier lies with breweries in the region of Franconia in northern Bavaria which traditionally dried the barley over fires fueled by beech trees from local forests. The resulting pungent malt imparted an assertively smoky aroma and flavor to the beer from which it was made. These smoked lagers generally feature a very malty framework on which the intensely smoky character will not become overbearing. Rauchbiers are still brewed in the traditional manner by many of the breweries centered around the town of Bamberg, though enterprising brewers in other parts of the world have begun to make similarly styled beers.

Courtesy of Tastings.com

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