Blackberry Bramble polarizes Arkansas beer geeks
I'm a member of the Facebook group "Beer Geeks of Arkansas," which in my opinion is a good cross section of the state's beer drinkers (there are over 1,700 members and counting). Typically members fawn over Lost Forty Brewing Co.'s latest releases, often proclaiming the brewery to be the best in Arkansas. I don't know that anyone can really say who is best, given the fact beer is a very subjective thing; but Lost Forty has certainly built a loyal fanbase in its short three-and-a-half years of existence. Omar Castrellon, Dylan Yelenich, and the rest of the brewers there have done a great job.
So I was surprised to see so much negativity displayed by Beer Geeks of Arkansas members towards Lost Forty's latest release--Blackberry Bramble. It wasn't over-the-top hostility, but it wasn't the typical love fest you see for beers like Trash Panda or Nighty Night.
The reviews haven't been all bad. Some Beer Geeks of Arkansas members proclaimed it to be an outstanding beer and much better than in previous years.
According to Lost Forty's Facebook page, this is the third year for the beer, but the first under a new name. In previous years it was known as Blackberry American Wheat and came in a nondescript small-batch can. Apparently, the beer's roots go back to a recipe Castrellon brewed in the 90s. Check out this video from Lost Forty to hear more about the beer:
This year Lost Forty upped the ante with more fruit, more ABV, and a beautiful can design that features a blackberry-toting bird. I didn't get to try previous versions of the beer, but according to some posts I've read, the 2018 edition is much drier than its predecessors.
For me, a dry beer is a good beer. I don't much care for sugary sweetness. That's why I don't usually gravitate to fruit beers. They typically have a fructose-forward composition that is way out-of-balance for my palate.
Blackberry Bramble is definitely not a sweet beer. The fruit is present, but provides more of a tart characteristic that reminds me of (but does not mimic) a sour beer. The wheat base mellows out the acidity and intertwines with the abundance of blackberry flavor to create a crushable beer.
It's also an eye-pleasing beer. Blackberry Bramble has a cloudy appearance and is striking in color--almost a purplish hue. The foam struggles to exist and quickly subsides, but the carbonation holds up just fine.
Honestly, this beer reminds me of Abita Brewing Co.'s Purple Haze, but with slightly more character and a bigger alcoholic kick (6% ABV vs. 4.2% for Purple Haze). And don't get me wrong, that's not a knock...just a comparison that hopefully helps you get an idea of what Blackberry Bramble is all about.
It looks like Lost Forty is going all out with distribution on this one, even committing to 12-packs of cans for state-wide delivery. I like that idea because I can see myself hanging out at BBQs and drinking a few of these under the warm Fayetteville sun.
I'm not sure why so many people have been vocally down on this beer; but again, beer is totally subjective. One man's drain pour is another man's go-to beer and vice versa. Despite the less-than-stellar reviews you might read, Blackberry Bramble is definitely worth a try. And if you don't like it and have some left over, bring your extras to me because I have a whole summer's worth of BBQs to supply with beer.