Pie-Infused Brew? The Art of Balancing “Concept” with “Craveable”
Does your "one-hit wonder" brew need a boost?
It's that time of year. Alongside seasonal desserts like pie, we're all sipping our festive alcohol—whether eggnog with cinnamon or cocktails with cranberry.
In the brewing world, there’s also the annual return of something I call "concept" drinks, like beer and cider made with real pie or pure pumpkin.
It's a fun concept. The flavors are unique enough for anyone to try at least once.
But sometimes it’s once and only once, because—let's be honest—they don’t taste like the real thing. Sometimes we struggle to detect any flavor at all.
They sell, but usually just for the season. These are the "one-hit wonders" of the brewing world, which boost sales briefly but can't make the cut year-round.
For example: the pie-infused brews of Right Brain Brewery (Traverse City, Michigan). Every summer for the National Cherry Festival, they release their Cherry Pie Whole Beer—made with real cherry pies leftover from Grand Traverse Pie Company.
On this beer's Untappd page, the description seems to apologize for the flavor not living up to its namesake: It's beer made with pies. It's not pie. Expect beer made with pies.
But here’s the thing: they make the flavor work. Legend has it that people wait in long lines for this cherry release.
So what exactly makes Right Brain Brewery's “concept beer” stand out?
The Secret Sauce
To understand the secret to their beer's development and success, I did a little research.
An interview for MLive revealed that Right Brain Brewery “boost(s) the flavor” of their pie with one key ingredient: cherry juice.
“It took a while to figure out how to do it,” claimed their owner, Russell Springsteen. Balancing concept with crave-worthiness is, after all, an art form.
Based on the rich, ruby-red color of their beer, I’m sure the cherry juice adds more than just flavor.
My favorite thing about fruit-boosted brews is that the juice takes everything up a notch: flavor, color, aroma, clarity, mouthfeel.
In short? Brewing with fruit juice makes the flavor memorable.
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