Bananatana ! 


BANANATANA is a 7% ale fermented with bananas and sultanas, and refermented in the bottle and keg.

Why did we commission a fruit beer?

I confess that the name was thought of first and what the beer might be like came later, but there is a good reason for this beer to exist.

There are simply not enough beers with fermented with real fruit, compared with the amount of weak "beer" with some juice, 'essence' or syrup added. A real fruit beer should taste of beer first, with the presence of fruit complementing the flavour to produce a coherent whole.  What the commercial crap versions are doing with the term "beer" in the title is a mystery, as the reek of the syrup totally overwhelms any beer that might be present.

The commercial variety is known as 'fruit beer', whereas Bananatana is "beer with fruit". Fermenting with real fruit is fraught with challenges for the brewer as the fruit brings its own sugars and potentially wild yeast to the unfinished beer. This is not the type of brewing that interests bigger commercial breweries.

All credit or blame for Bananatana is due to Sjef Groothuis and Brouwerij Drie Horne. Sjef is the most accomplished brewer with real fruit in The Netherlands, and probably in the world. In his portfolio already were Wiegelier (8.7% - apricots), Kandinsky (8.3%, Dates), Wolluks Drupke (7.5%, Liquorice), Besselaer (7%, Red and black currants), Kandeleir (9.4%, raisins), Birkenbier Tripel (9%, birch sap) and a new beer, Myrtilleir (7%, Bilberry). Particularly with the stronger beers, these are beers foremost, with the hint of fruit . 

The first brew of 'tana was in 2001, and there has since been one brew made each year. The first brew was on a thin bodied 6% blond ale, with massive banana aroma. Far too many bananas. For the real beer drinker it was dire, but it sold out within a couple of months to the 'fruit beer' fans. The second and third brews were attempts to balance a more subdued banana, more pronounced sultana flavour with a more complex beer. The ABV was raised to 7%. By the fourth brew (2004), the banana was only a meer suggestion in the aroma, and there was at last some praise from the real ale drinkers. But it sold slowly, with disappointment written on the faces of guiltlessly naive sugar-fruit seekers at the 2004 GBBF.

So there it stands, trying to find a blend which will be somewhere between a critical success and a commercial failure. Bananatana is still a work in progress and we look forward to Sjef's 2006 brew with bitten lips and crossed fingers.


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