Pineapple infused beer from Aviator Brewing
Last night something happened that I’d never experienced before. Aviator Brewing came out to Rockfish Seafood Grill in Durham to pour a one-of-a-kind beer. They brought their tripel ale, Devil’s Tramping Ground, and infused it with fresh pineapple and hops to create this gorgeous flavor of a beer. Similar to a lambic, but almost like a wheat beer without the wheat flavor. This infused beer was something that I’d never even thought to do before.
Apparently though Dogfish Brewing has been doing something similar for ages. Since 2002 Dogfish has been using a double chamber infuser that they call Randall to infuse various flavors into their beers for contests, pint nights, and plain old fun. Aviator Brewing came across their Sputnik – named because of it’s remarkable resemblance to the Russian satellite – when a metal worker came into the brewery with it. They traded a growler of beer for this unique device. Sputnik is the only one of it’s kind and while it looks simple enough to recreate, we don’t know of another one out there. Over the years Aviator has tried to infuse a few flavors like cranberries with their Devil’s Tramping Ground tripel and Hibiscus flowers into their Hot Rod Red.
Aviator isn’t a novice in infusing beer flavors. Throughout the winter they’ve been showcasing some of their tasty cask ales around the Triangle. The casks have been infused with everything from bourbon to cinnamon and beyond. However, this light Belgian ale is already sweet, so when infusing the pineapple with it they decided to add additional hops in order to balance out the sweet. Everything is fresh and done right at the pour. The tap pulls the beer from the keg and directs it through Sputnik. When it gets to Sputnik it stays pressurized and begins the infusing process. Finally, when the customer is ready for a pint the beer is released from Sputnik full of fruity and hoppy flavors. How simple!
About the beer:
Appearance - the golden color of the beer isn’t distorted much by being infused by additional flavors. There are some floating pieces, but this makes sense since the fruit is fresh. The particles aren’t large or obvious while drinking, but you can see that clarity of the beer is compromised.
Smell - the smell of the pineapple is vaguely noticeable. The smell more or less comes across as a generic fruity and alcohol based aroma. At 9% ABV the alcohol makes sense. I would have hoped for a bit more distinct pineapple smell, but there was nothing about this beer that would slow you from drinking. And unlike many previous versions of Randall developed by Dogfish, the Sputnik infused beer doesn’t seem to have a problem with producing a foamy beer.
Taste - the infused beer washes over the taste buds. The hops hit the bitter part of my tastebuds, while the sweet sugar and pineapple cover the other tastebuds. This is truly a mouthfull of sweet, delicious craft beer.
Mouthfeel - there’s little fizz to this beer. I’m not sure what Devil’s Tramping Ground tastes like on a normal basis, but this evening the fizz was barely noticeable. I appreciated this as I didn’t end up burping so much between sips, but if it had just a little more carbonation it would have still been very pleasant.
Drinkability - this is definitely a drinkable beer. I’m sure Devil’s Tramping Ground, like Aviator’s other beers, is normally a very easy to drink beer. With the fruity aftertaste, the beer becomes simply divine to drink.
Overall I really enjoyed this beer. Light, crisp, and refreshing, it was a welcome break from all the dark beers of winter. But with the promise of an early spring, Devil’s Tramping Ground would make a fantabulous afternoon beer – especially when it’s infused with fruit!