Soaking Up the Suds with James Crane

Nine months out of the year, I have no interest in fruit beer. There really isn’t anything appealing about juicy, sweet beers. The one obvious exception to this is pumpkin, but come on. That doesn’t really count. I’m talking about real fruit, like berries and peaches. During the three months of summer, they suddenly become more than palatable. What would be a turn off any other time suddenly becomes an object of desire during the middle of a hot day. Nothing could possibly be more quenching.

A few days ago, I watched a friend’s cat for the day. When she came to pick up the kitty, she brought me a six pack of Abita’s Purple Haze. The first Purple Haze of the year is always a very special thing. To this day, it’s one of the most drinkable beers I’ve ever had the pleasure of passing over my lips. It seems it is always gone before I know what happened to it. While not terribly strong, it makes up for it in how much I tend to drink in a sitting. It is a great session beer.

It touched off the desire in me, however. I wanted more. I wanted something new. There were a few options I found, but one in particular caught my eye. With the name of Liliko’i Kepolo, this brew doesn’t focus on the fruits I’m used to. In a bit of a bold leap, it goes tropical. In Hawaiian, Liliko’i means passion fruit, and that is what this beer is made with.

Kepolo apparently means devil, however. Drinking a passion fruit devil? Yeah, that sounds like a good time. Not all fruit beer is great, however. I’ve had a few that reminded me of Kool-Aid mixed with malt liquor. For every balanced, thirst-quenching brew I’ve had, there has been one that has been overly sweet or strangely acidic. I was hoping this would be a gamble that paid off.

The pour was a light, golden yellow color. There wasn’t much head, but for something with such light body, this isn’t surprising. The scent was certainly passion fruit. It smelled of sweetness with that ever-so-slight funk passion fruit has. There was a little bit of citrus and spice, but this was very much eclipsed by the passion fruit.

The taste was rather similar in that passion fruit was the most noticeable quality. Being a witbier, there was also sweet malt and wheat. This all gave way to a bit of yeast funk, spice and black pepper. Thankfully, the tart and sour end kept it from getting too sweet. While not as sour as a lot of Belgian brews, it was a welcomed quality.

It drank rather easily, just as it should have. I don’t know that I’d want a second one, however. It was a good beer, but perhaps just a little too sweet for me to drink all night. That said, it would be a good one to grill with or to have ice cold after a hot day. There is a lot of summer crammed into that can. After downing it, I almost expected my fingers to be sticky with juices.
Liliko’i Kepolo is certainly a welcome addition to the summertime fruit beer arsenal.