This week’s Canada’s Craft Beer post comes from our Eastern Canada craft beer guy, David Ort. Pear flavoured beer is becoming more popular with each passing fall. Today David looks at this increasingly popular flavour in Ontario and Quebec.
We're going to take a slight diversion for this month's craft beer column. Cider would be a seasonally appropriate change from beer, but I feel like it already gets its fair share of attention. I'd rather try to write this month about perry, cider's lesser known cousin. In many ways it is the stage actor to cider's movie star; Christopher Plummer to Paul Gross, if you prefer.
Like the most authentic apple ciders, true perry -- in England and France, usually -- is made from particularly tannic pears that would be quite unpleasant to eat out of hand. One of the ways it stands apart from hard cider is that because pears have more of the sugars that can't be converted by yeast into alcohol, so the perry they produce tends to be sweeter.
That sweetness can be perry's undoing, especially when made from less tannic dessert pears. (Such as Bosc and Barlett.) Pear juice has a standard sweetness that makes it the preferred filler for things like "peach drink" and "apple berry punch."
Turns out that it's really quite difficult to find widely available perry here in Ontario. I did manage to track down two products that lean in the right direction, though. One's a "pear cider" -- a base of apple cider that has pear flavour laid on top, the other is a beer with a similar addition.
County Pear Cider
The County Cider company has been in business in Prince Edward County for nearly two decades, well before craft beer was "a thing". For the pear cider (as well as their other fruit ciders) they blend pear juice into a base of apple cider.
Clear and pale yellow, this fruit cider is quite the looker. It has a clean aroma full of pear skin notes. A sip brings out plenty of pear sweetness, a touch of warm spice character and a welcome sour green apple candy note at about the two-thirds mark of each sip.
Between the two selections, I'd prefer this one by the pint on one of the last sunny afternoons of 2015 and save the other for contemplative evening sipping.
ABV 6.5%. Available in ON.
Unibroue Éphémère Poire
This one is part of Unibroue's generally interesting Éphémère series of beers that each have a fruit twist to them. Apple, cassis, cranberry, cherry, and framboise are the rest of the roster to date.
Éphémère Poire is hazy and yellow-gold with a inch of dull white foam. After a few minutes that head drops back to be a pleasant lily pad of tight bubbles. The toasted caramel sweetness has an interesting trick to it. For a beer like an abbey-style tripel or quad to deliver that kind of lead-in it would need to come with a malt-packed and quite sticky finish, but the pear addition means Éphémère can finish crisp and light.
Unibroue's recognizable thumbprint of Belgian-style yeast character sets the pear flavours off nicely. As does the creamy texture of tight carbonation and a hint of autumn baking spices. It is easy to recommend this choice and certainly not just because of how unusual it is to find a fruit beer made with pears.
ABV 5.5%. Available in QC, ON.
For more great pumpkin craft beers to try this season, check out our Bryan Clegg's post on BC Pumpkin Beers.
Check out all our Canada’s Craft Beer articles.
David Ort writes about food, travel, and craft beer for various online and print publications. His first book, The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook, is in bookstores and available for purchase online. For more of his thoughts on all things edible and potable follow him on Twitter or get in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.