My first experience that I can recall of a beer with added fruit was Liefmans Kriekbier, to many people this is a 'cherry beer' or as some might wrongly say a 'cherry lager', but it's much more than that. The cherries used to make this beer are harvested each July and then the beer is cellared for a whole year. This is no ordinary fruity girly beer. It has a sour edge, giving it a grown up feel, yet it still is easy to drink and appeals to all types. So after the kriek I wanted to try Liefmans Frambozenbier. This one is brewed with raspberries and is lighter in alcohol and sweeter in taste but it still has a sour edge, probably due to the base beer being the excellent Goudenband. I continued to try all the Belgian fruit beers I could get my hands on: Lindemans Kriek, Belle-Vue Kriek, Mort Subite Kriek, Timmermans Kriek, Timmermans Framboise, Mort-Subite Peche (peaches wow, that's another type of fruit), Timmermans Peche, Jacobins Kriek and so on. Unbeknownst to my knowledge of such things I was actually drinking lambics. Albeit they were very friendly and quite sweet lambics, but lambics all the same. Then I actually started to read about lambics, and particularly the fruit lambics of Boon, Cantillon and Hanssens. I read about these and naturally wanted to try them. Tim Webb and Michael Jackson said how good they were. I must like them surely?
So on my first trip to 't Brugs Beertje I ordered myself a Cantillon Kriek. Some guy at the bar commented how I must know my stuff to be ordering Cantillon. I just smiled casually. That first Cantillon was sourer than any other beer I'd ever had but I drank it slowly and savoured its complexity. I was now hooked and wanted to try more and more of these crazy sour fruit beers, and other not so sour fruit beers.
I've discovered more breweries who produce 'fruit beers' and over the years I have had such cracking beers as 3 Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek, De Cam Oude Kriek, New Glarus Belgian Red, De Ranke Kriek, Kriekdebie and others.
I've had fruit beers brewed with Apples, Limes, Blackberries, Apricots, Grapefruits, Plums, Prunes and pretty much all other fruits. I've even had a fairly awful Rhubarb Beer.
There is no doubt that fruit beers appeal to a massive cross section of beer drinkers and also those who would not normally drink beer. Whether they be sweet or whether they be sour, fruit beers are here to stay. One day you may even get a stand up comic calling out Fruit and Beer - TOGETHER?