The second day of Christmas highlights that this is not the only holiday of the season. Traditionally Kwanzaa begins on the 27th and runs until the 1st of January. Kwanzaa’s founder Maulana Karenga created the holiday in 1966 and derived the name from a Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza.” This translates into “first fruits” which is celebrated as a festival in Southern African countries around the southern solstice. The beer selection ties in the first fruit theme by serving a Belgian Fruit Ale. Although the brewery that produces Derilium can trace their history back to 1654, the actual Derilium Red was released in 2010.
Fruit Ale (with Belgian Yeast Strain) 44º – 57º F (7-14º C)
The fruit (cherry) esters from the yeast are the first thing I perceive with the aroma. A deep red color, so opaque that light doesn’t pass through the glass. Head is off white with an almost pinkish shoe. The head is a persistent mix of tiny, medium and large bubbles that persist. Persistent aroma of yeast on the nose through the entire glass. Slight malt aromas but no hop bitterness perceived. Sweet cherry taste came through but, not the medicinal I heard from previous tasters. Slight sour bitterness on the tip of the tongue when tasting. It almost appeared that the sugars from the fruit were fermented off and only the sour bitterness remained. Fuller mouthfeel with no sharp bite at the end of the sip. Bitterness comes more from the residual sugars than any hop aroma or flavor. The aftertaste leaves a lingering sweetness that stays in the mouth. While I enjoyed the beer there are those that believe the cherry flavor reminds them of cold medicine. Even though enjoyable this is a single glass beer for me and at 8% that is probably a good life decision. I would actually recommend this beer be enjoyed with something to bring and end to the aftertaste before having another sip.
The strong sweetness of fruit beers are normally balanced with a dark chocolate bitterness to cut the sweetness and sourness of the beer. For the traditionalist I would recommend that route. For those that are more adventurous I would make a recommendation of mint ice cream. This works for me because I do not immediately think of cough syrup when I sip Delirium Red. For those that get those connotations this pairing will only reinforce the sensation. For me the mint provides another layer of the fruitiness where the cream clears the palate to prepare for the next tasting.