beer_label_fzNew Belgium Brewing Company is a very popular brewery in Fort Collins, CO, with wide distribution throughout the country. This cool company is environmentally conscious and makes great beers to boot. What’s not to like?

One of their seasonal beers is Frambozen, a raspberry-flavored brown ale. If you’re like me and generally not a big fan of fruit flavored beers, you should keep an open mind and try out the Frambozen before writing it off. It is a great beer and has none of the things (sticky sweetness, synthetic fake flavors) that usually turn “real beer drinkers” off from fruit beers. Frambozen is a good, solid drinker.

Frambozen is released by New Belgium every autumn and it seems to sell pretty fast, so it must be popular. The brewery obtains fresh raspberry juice from the Pacific Northwest and adds it to a brown ale recipe to brew this fruity concoction. I get a lot of the same flavors from this beer as I do from Fat Tire, so I’ve often wondered if they simply add the raspberry juice to Fat Tire and call it good… it definitely seems to have a lot of Fat Tire character in it, for sure the same yeast. new-belgium-01

What sets Frambozen apart from so many other fruit beers is its tartness. I have been into the sour Belgian beers lately, and I wouldn’t go so far to say it ranks as a true sour beer, but it is definitely tart, not sweet or cloying in any way. With a nice malt backbone to ride on and a good amount of carbonation, Frambozen has tons of raspberry flavor while still retaining real beer notes.

Frambozen pairs well with gouda cheese and also chocolate desserts and even dark chocolate. The tartness, raspberry and carbonation make it able to handle the fats in these foods. Frambozen is definitely my favorite fruit beer. While I don’t think it makes for a good “session beer,” it is good to keep a sixer or two in the fridge this time of year to enjoy when you need something a little different on your palate. Try Frambozen, you won’t be disappointed.

If you like the tartness of it, it could make for a good gateway beer to the Belgian sours. I’d suggest Rodenbach or Rodenbach Grand Cru as a follow-up for an affordable, available sour beer, then make your way on to the more complex beers like New Belgium’s La Folie.