Beer: Peach Ale Brewery: Four Peaks Brewing Co. Style: Fruit Beer ABV: 4.5 percent
Screw you guys; I like fruit beer.
A combative start to the column, sure, but a necessary one, for although craft beer has made immeasurable strides in becoming an accepted -- if not integral -- part of our drinking culture, even beer geeks still be hatin' on fruit-focused brews. The lone man who orders Peach Ale in a visit to Four Peaks is so commonly laughed at by his buds, it becomes necessary to make a bold statement like the one above. Here's an even bolder one: It's the best beer Four Peaks makes.
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Stick with me. Fruit beers are often tragic; the fruit is either too subtle (see: Stone R&R Coconut IPA), too intense (see: Leinenkugel's Berry Weiss), or too artificial (see: Anheuser-Busch Wild Blue). It takes a skilled brewer to get the proportions just right and strike a balance that combines the best aspects of the base beer and the fruit within. The soft touch with which the peaches were added to Four Peaks Peach enhances the flavors of the golden ale without becoming cloying, and the hops -- 9 IBUs' worth of Magnum -- are exactly enough. Beneath a frothy head of off-white bubbles, the liquid is honey-hued and perfectly transparent -- Peach ale has nothing to hide. It is simply what it purports to be. The nose: sweet, gentle peach juice, with a hint of crisp wheat. The flavor: peach syrup, wheat, apricot, almond, lightly toasted crackers and a whisper of banana. Combining these aspects with the brew's hyperactive carbonation and crisp medium-light body gives you the perfect warm-weather beer.
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Which is why I'm so pumped to see Four Peaks Peach Ale has finally made its way into cans, joining a lineup that includes Kilt Lifter, Hop Knot and SunBru -- and will soon include Pumpkin Porter. Peach Ale can now come with you on hikes; it can sit beside you at the pool; it can help you cheer on the Sun Devils at tailgates. All you have to do is get over your aversion to fruit in your beer. If you need some training wheels, try mixing one part Peach Ale and two parts Hop Knot.
In fact, you should try that even if you don't need a little help. It's delicious.
Zach Fowle is a Certified Cicerone, an accredited guide to beer. He works at World of Beer in Tempe.