Behind the Barrels: Framboos vs Framboise

Batch 78 is the newest incarnation of a favorite around our tasting room--Framboos. Those who have tasted earlier batches know why this is exciting. Those who haven’t had the pleasure yet, well, get excited.

It’s easy to mix up Framboos with a Belgian classic, Framboise. But don’t let the similarities between the names fool you--these are very different beers.

A framboise (pronounced fram-bwahz) is a style of Belgian lambic with raspberries added. Lambics are a very old style, sour and funky thanks to spontaneous fermentation (Spontaneous fermentation means that brewers let wild yeast do all the fermenting instead of pitching specific yeast. This is the kind of thing that would make homebrewers and many commercial brewers very nervous). A lot of the versions available here in the states tend to be on the sweeter side.

Framboos (pronounced fram-booze) also has raspberries added, but the end result is neither sweet nor sour. Framboos is dry, with touches of oak and funk. There’s a not unreasonable expectation that fruit beers are bound to be sweet, but Framboos is a perfect example that “fruit” and “sweet” do not necessarily go hand in hand. Think about wine--you don’t expect a Cabernet to taste like grape juice, and same kind of character is entirely possible in beer.

Yeast, especially the more wild strains like brettanomyces, just needs some time to break down the sugars in fruit leaving the flavor without any of the sweetness. Barrel aging gives yeast the time it needs, and in the case of Framboos, also leaves a hint of oaky flavor that further balances out any lingering fruit sweetness.