As a very general rule, I dislike fruit beers. Of course, there are some exceptions – Dogfish Head’s Festina Peche is a refreshingly unusual take on the Berliner Weisse style, and Walking Man’s Black Cherry Stout is one of the few fruit/stout combinations I’ve found effective (and I’m happy to report it’s very effective indeed). Despite those high points, I tend to avoid trying a beer that sounds like it’s going to be overtly fruity – but after a long day of spent outside doing Things Soccer-y, Derailed sounded like an interesting option. Essentially a black cherry version of Erie Brewing Company’s gold-medal-winning Railbender Ale, it arrived quite purple indeed (it’s pictured next to the Abbey of Christ in the Desert Monk’s Ale, for your comparative pleasure).
The cherry aroma was certainly evident, and I wondered how well it would blend or compliment the solid malt flavor that Railbender is known for. The answer is that the flavors work together surprisingly well – the cherry taste is refreshing and tart, so there is no overabundance of fruit and malt combining in a sort of sickly-sweet sugar bomb. The malt is still very much the driving force behind this beer, which keeps it from verging into black cherry soda territory (something for which I have a terrible weakness – as both a beer and black cherry soda connoisseur, I can confirm there is little crossover here). It was an ideal beer for the occasion – one that could slake thirst after a warm day, but with enough malt backbone to offset a cool evening. It’s a little too peculiar to become a go-to beer for most circumstances, but it’s definitely worth a try; odd beers can be good beers.
After all, how can anyone dislike a beer that has its own origin myth?