Monday, November 28, 2011

Quaff Review #17: KLB Raspberry Wheat Beer

You always remember your first - beer, that is. For my part, that didn't come until I was in university and more interested in coming home from the United States with cases of fully-caffeinated Mountain Dew; after all, the Trent University campus is a twenty-minute bus ride from downtown Peterborough, and the LCBO on Sherbrooke is another five minutes away from the station. It wasn't until I actually started living in downtown Peterborough that I started taking advantage of the opportunities, and I began with something that was significantly easier to find in Peterborough than anywhere else back in 2002 and 2003 - KLB Rasperry Wheat Beer, produced by the then-independent Kawartha Lakes Brewing Co. KLB went bankrupt in mid-2003, but fortunately its product line was saved through acquisition by the Amsterdam Brewing Company of Toronto, thankfully another microbrewery and not one of the big nationals.

The can says that KLB Raspberry Wheat is "the beer that made Peterborough famous," and the design incorporates the endless farmlands of the sort that you will see when you motor north along Highway 115 to get to the Electric City. It describes the beer as a balance of Belgium wheat and German hops - though I think "Belgian" would have made more sense in context - and incorporates an unfortunate typo when it talks about how "pure raspberry essence gives this beer it's signature aroma and flavour."

Perhaps you should see about fixing that up on the next print run, Amsterdam. Regardless, though - onto the beer itself. This had been sitting in my refrigerator for two months, but it was worth the wait for me.

KLB Raspberry Wheat Beer is a fairly deep amber, lacks a particularly frothy head and should be drunk crisp and cold - appropriate, for a beer that is itself cold-filtered. As a result, it's thoroughly translucent, enough to easily read the text of wall-mounted posters through.

The aroma of this beer is, unsurprisingly, dominated by raspberry - so's if you don't like it, probably best to get out entirely. Beyond a sweetness on the tongue as it goes down, raspberry also dominates the taste of the beer itself, and that's one reason why I like it - it's one of what seems to be a small percentage of beers that stands out from the crowd, that has a taste that can be described beyond "beer." I know there are people who denigrate fruit beers, who see the use of fruit flavoring as some sort of weakness, but I like my variety. Beers such as this, in my experience, aren't incredibly common, and it's always good to have a field of options wide open.

Now, the downside: if you're not in Ontario, this beer may be extremely difficult to get outside of Ontario; the LCBO is the only place I know to stock it, and I've certainly never seen it in British Columbia - or anything else brewed by Amsterdam, for that matter. What makes it worse is that KLB Raspberry Wheat Beer comes in tallboys, rather than bottles: I discovered that this was a liability when I was unpacking. The can of beer used for this review was actually one of two I brought back from Ontario, both sealed in Ziploc bags for the trip - and yet when I unpacked, I found my freshly-laundered clothes smelling rather like a brewery. The second can was still sealed, but was nevertheless crumpled; the bag it was in was still zippered up, but only a small puddle of beer remained at the bottom. The only explanation I can think of was that the can had a slight manufacturing defect, enough so that once it was at 38,000 feet in the unpressurized cargo bay, the beer was forced out of it and out of the bag because of pressure differentials or something.

I'm not really sure. All I know is that from now on, when I carry liquids in my luggage they're going to be in bottles.


Previous Quaff Reviews

1 comment:

  1. This is my "Breakfast Beer" A fine brew for the morning! My experience with this beer is that it lasts better in the can, unfortunately the last few cases of bottles I purchased through the Beer Store were bad, no preservatives and they just didn't move enough product for it to keep well. It is hard to find but worth having on hand. If you see it...try it with an open mind!