Beer Review 0423: Founders Rübæus Raspberry Ale

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Founders (Grand Rapids, Michigan) have brought back a retired beer for 2013 — Rübæus (Rubaeus), a fruit beer made with raspberries. Last brewed in 2008, Rubeaus replaces Cerise in the specialty lineup, also a fruit beer that featured cherries. Due to the soft cherry crop in Michigan in 2012, Founders deemed this replacement necessary. The brewery has not clarified if Rubaeus will hang around longer than this year or not, with this year’s cherry crop more bountiful.

Founders celebrated 15 years as a brewery in 2012; back in 1997, when Founders first opened, they were more interested in making beers that everyone would enjoy. Simple Pale Ales or Brown Ales… beers that just weren’t memorable. The end result of the mainstream mediocrity was their beer was selling, but they weren’t making enough money to keep the company afloat. Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers, the brains behind Founders, received a call from their bank and were told that unless they could make a significant payment on their loan in short order, the brewery would be shuttered and the doors chained shut.

Founders changed quickly philosophy — they started brewing beer THEY wanted to consume, not the mainstream. Vast success followed; Rubaeus is an example of “beer brewed for us, not for them.” Coming in at 5.7% ABV (alcohol by volume), Rubaeus sees raspberries added at multiple stages during fermentation, in the hopes of creating a balance of both sweet and tart. IBUs (International Bitterness Units) hit at just 15. You can find Rubaeus in your bottle shop during the months of July and August.

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Rubaeus pours with a small…PURPLE head that is fizzy and doesn’t hang around for long. The beer is ruby red in color, very vibrant when held to bright light, and nearly verges on maroon. The body is clear, with no particles or sediment, and lacing is fair, leaving behind only a couple of thin foamy patches while I sampled.

On the nose, this brew is straight up raspberry juice. You’d never guess this for beer, as the only note reminiscent of a typical beer is that of a mild grain. The raspberry flavor itself has a lot of depth to it; it is both sweet and tart, and contains notes of apples, cranberries, and cherries. Rubaeus has an awesome aroma, and it lures you into taking a sip, especially if you might be weirded out by a red beer…

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Tasting presents tart raspberries up front, which serve to dry out the palate and nearly make you pucker, before turning sweet and introducing some apple and cherry. The complexities of the raspberries are outstanding — it’s like it goes from tart, to sweet, to cotton candy, back again to tart, and then closing with Fruity Pebbles-esque raspberry flavored cereal grain. It’s almost like you get a the life stages of a raspberry, from slightly underripe to fully developed. The beer is light-bodied, with a medium, drying mouthfeel that is a little thicker than you’d expect thanks to the inherent raspberry sweetness.

Founders ring the bell again with another outstanding beer. Yeah, your typical fruit beer might have a tiny bit of fruit flavor — Rubaeus is an all-out assault of raspberries, and what you probably expect from all those fruit beers that only have a small bit of fruit flavor. Refreshing and perfect for summer, stay far away if you don’t like raspberry. And while this is mighty easy drinking, I think one per sitting is more than enough.

Founders Rübæus Raspberry Ale, 90 points. Price: $11.99 US for a four pack.

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