Review: Wells Banana Bread beer

Wells Banana Bread beer, served in a 20 oz. pint glass.

Of all the fruit beer flavours you’re likely to come across, banana is far from the most common. I’ve sampled tons of raspberry beers, some blackberry beers, apple beers, peach beers, apricot beers, cherry beers, blackcurrant beers and passion-fruit/mango beers, but Wells’ Banana Bread beer is only the second banana beer I’ve run across – and the first, a “Bananas Foster” brew from Edmonton’s Alley Kat Brewing , didn’t actually contain any bananas. Wacky.

That’s not to say banana isn’t a common aroma or flavour in beer. Some brewing yeasts naturally produce hints of banana, and it’s a common taste in certain styles of wheat beer.

But what about Wells’ Banana Bread beer? Does it taste like banana bread, or just bananas? I’m too curious for my own good.

The Pitch: “An inspired brew made with our own natural mineral water and fair trade bananas. Tempting banoffee aromas and flavours are balanced by the silky richness of a masterful malt blend and the peppery spice of the freshest, ripest hops.” Yowza.

The Look: Clear glass bottle of the British style. There’s a banana on the label, so you know what you’re in for. Pours a nice copper colour. Fills a 20 oz. pint glass with adequate room for a tan head.

The Taste: The aroma instantly hits your nose with a bouquet of banana as you pour the beer. More hop aroma than I assumed there’d be. The taste is of ripe bananas, and yes, it leans toward banana bread. Not sweet. The hops contribute more bitterness than delicate flavour. Some caramel/toffee/molasses. Decent middle-of-the-road mouthfeel that isn’t too thin or too thick. The best banana notes are in the middle, after the first attack and before the finish.

Pairs With: Chocolate cake, chocolate fondue, or a banana split. The bitterness should balance out a sweet dessert. Also nice for sipping on its own, to get the most from the flavour without other distractions.

Wells Banana Bread beer does, admittedly, have a certain a-peel. (Groan.)

RATINGS AND DETAILS

Cost: $5.59 for a 500 mL bottle at DeVine Wines in Edmonton.

Value for cash money: Not cheap, but not bad. The same shop sells Newcastle Brown Ale for $3.99 for a similar-sized bottle.

Availability: Not common around these parts. This was the first time I saw it.

Nutrition?: It’s beer.

Beerish power: 5.2% a.b.v.

The verdict: The kind of oddball beer I’d buy once for the experience, and maybe again as a gift for a fellow beer nerd. Not something I’d drink every day, but an experience worth having at least once.

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