Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Oh So Marionberry!

I first tasted this berry almost 20 years ago when visiting my sister, Theresa, who lived in Portland, OR. She was an amazingly creative, fun-loving woman who ignited a room with her smile and laugh. She had single-handedly introduced me to the art of wine tasting, craft beer pubs, organic foods, and taught me how to make homemade pesto, pasta... and if that wasn't enough, she also encouraged my creative talents. Wow. Needless to say her homemade pies were also off-the-chart. Her Marionberry pie, was so wicked good, that I wanted one every-time I came to visit... she had me hooked. Like all tasty things that I encounter, once I discover something new that I really love, I covet it and become immersed in it. If you're not familiar with marionberries, may I suggest that you get acquainted soon and treat your taste-buds to this remarkable berry. Marionberries, only grown in the Pacific Northwest, are best described as a hybrid between a raspberry and a blackberry. They are about the size, shape, and color of a blackberry, but sweeter and subtly tart like a raspberry, simply berry perfection. I couldn't wait to get this berry in a beer.

So this leads me to my third homebrew... Paying homage to my amazing sister, while also giving nod to a favorite hockey player of mine, Marian Hossa... I set out to create a beer with his namesake and my beloved berry. My homebrew store, BrewCamp, carrys lots of different fruit purees, but didn't specifically sell this rare berry in their shop. Luckily I found an online store, Adventures in Homebrewing, which sold marionberry puree specifically for wine and beer making. Perfect. Now, I needed to decide what beer style was going to go best with this sweet, juicy, plump fruit, I also wanted to continue to explore Belgian style beers so I settled on a Belgian Tripel. It's rich depth of flavor would be a perfect paring to compliment this complex berry and triples "hat-tricks" are a bit of good luck in hockey too.

I was warned by my friend Jesse, from Ale Syndicate not to do to many fruit beers cause they can really goo up your tanks/hose/equipment. I didn't really know what he had meant until this beer. The puree for this fruit was not as smooth as the raspberry, it had whole chunks and partial chucks of berries, and most likely was really meant for wine making rather than beer. Berry bits got stuck in the siphoning equipment, mucked it up, slowed it down, and added another layer of stickiness to the process. I brewed the Belgian Tripel as directed by the kit, but then introduced the marionberry puree in the second fermentation. It turned out pretty tasty and strong. And I must say I'm a fan of this Hossa too. Cheers!

Oh So Hossa  |  Marionberry Belgian Tripel  | ABV 8.5%

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