Liefmans Brewery has operated in Flanders, Belgium since 1770 and almost disappeared when its holding company Riva went bust in 2007. Duvel Moortgat, famous for its legendary Duvel beer, came to the rescue when it acquired the Liefmans Brewery in 2009 and it is now breathing new life into the famous fruit beers growing the brand by 43% in the last 18 months.
A new fruit beer has just been launched exclusively to Waitrose I was lucky enough to have a bottle sent to my doorstep for me to try.
The beer is based on Liefmans most famous beer, the cherry Kriek, now named Cuvee Brut and this is blended with fresh fruit juices of strawberry, raspberry, cherry, elderberry and bilberry. It is an absolute fruit-fest, you might even struggle to describe it as beer as there is no distinguishable hop or malt character. The sparkle of carbonation sets off the sweetness nicely and it proves to be a tasty, refreshing aperitif when served chilled. You might also say it is suitable as a dessert beer, although only 4.2%, the sweetness and spritzy sparkle would be a good match with a rich pudding.
Of course this beer is for the mainstream Waitrose customer and not specifically promoted towards the beer geek but it should do very well given its approachability and its marketing push. One final point which must be significant as it is spelled out in red ink on the press release. Liefmans Fruit has only 99 calories per bottle. I'll drink to that.
This is a brewery saved from extinction. Let's celebrate the fact that Duvel Moortgat have undertaken to rescue a piece of beer heritage and is giving Liefmans a dynamic future.
Watch out for Liefmans Cuvee Brut, previously known as Liefmans Kriek and the Goudenband Provisiebier, more complex beers which are not yet available in supermarkets but you may find at online outlets such as www.beermerchants.com and www.beerhere.co.uk.
Liefmans Fruit is now available at all Waitrose stores at £1.60 per 25cl bottle.