A Pale Comparison To The Original

Friday, May 01, 2009

Last week in my beer news roundup, I mentioned Founders Brewing Company has recently released Cerise, a pale ale with loads of Traverse City-grown cherries in every batch. This week, I had the opportunity to try some on tap at my favorite local watering hole, Brannigan Brothers. Cerise is the replacement for the recently discontinued Rubaeus, a raspberry beer, which had a broad following and was a very balanced fruit beer. Rubaeus fans have been grousing, and unfortunately, Cerise doesn't do much to satisfy their concerns. It doesn't help when Cerise is French for Cherry. Are we still pissed at the French?
My lovely waitress handed me a full pint of a hazy, dark pink beer. It appeared quite effervescent but had virtually no head. As I drank, it left lacing, but it did retain that thin foam cap.

The beer's aroma was predominantly sour cherries with hints of malt behind it. It is impossible to mistake this beer for anything other than cherry. A hint of "christmas spices" (think: mulled cider) hang out behind all that cherry.

My problem with the taste is that while I am sure Founders is being honest when they say they use 30 gallons of cherries in every batch, something in the taste just doesn't quite seem natural. It's so cherry that it seems contrived. As the aroma, sour cherry is the dominant flavor. It finished like a cherry pie where someone forgot to add the sugar: pucker-tart. It's very flavorful, but is missing the malt and hop profile to confirm that this is a beer and not an alco-pop. It also finishes with a hint of a lambic-like yeasty funk, which is about the best part of the beer.

Ceris is medium bodied with a syrupy quality. The carbonation separates it from a wine cooler, really.

I have to say I was disappointed in this beer. I love Founders; it's my favorite in-state brewery. But this just left me lacking. I liked (and many other people liked) Rubaeus because while you could taste the raspberry, there was a big malt profile and hop character that reminded you it was a beer. Rubaeus was a marriage between raspberries and a solid ale. Ceris? Cherry juice with alcohol in it. Sure to please people who otherwise won't drink beer, Ceris could be a "gateway" beer for someone looking for an intro to the world beyond mixed drinks and Miller. But for ATK regulars? Stick with a cherry wheat if you must.


Bob 11:36 AM  

Reminds me of your review of Anheuser-Busch's Wild Blue Blueberry Lager.

With some exceptions, fruity beers just don't work for me. Its like putting fruit in your coffee. Yuck.

Smitty 12:22 PM  

Reminds me of your review of Anheuser-Busch's Wild Blue Blueberry Lager.You know, this beer reminded me from that. I hope that with their next batch, they ease up a bit on the cherry or add a bunch of malt.

Sopor 3:48 PM  

I agree 100%. They should have kept Rubaeus, it was good beer that tasted like raspberry... not cherry syrup mixed with with beer. I like the Michigan cherry thing... but it just wasn't worth ruining a good thing.

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