Bramble Rye is Memories. Those Made and Those to be Made.

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. This was supposed to be up last Friday, but I missed. You can have it today. The host this month, for #84 is Oliver J Grey and he asked for “alternative beer reviews.” This is mine. Even if you don’t love beer, you may enjoy this review.

I have never had a chocolate covered raspberry. I feel they must exist, somewhere. But I’ve never had one. And, frankly, I’m fine with this. I adore chocolate, but raspberries are generally not my thing.

Blackberries, on the other hand, I will eat like the world is ending. If I found a place selling chocolate covered blackberries, I would be in berry heaven. Alas, I have also never had a chocolate covered blackberry. Which is some crap, I now know.

Like coffee, which these days I like, raspberries in beer are not so off-putting as raspberries alone. However, unlike coffee, chocolate doesn’t usually fix raspberries. And beer rarely does, so I didn’t expect Goose Island Beer Company’s Bramble Rye to wow me. But, because blackberries are truly delightful to me, I also didn’t expect Bramble Rye to disappoint me.

One of those expectations was correct. Bramble Rye was not only not disappointing, it was a joy to drink. Chocolate and dark berries at first. Exactly what I wanted. Blackberries. I was launched.

Launched into a future I hope to someday have. Visiting Bill’s father and step-mother, sometime when their blackberries are ready to harvest. Making jam with Patty. Convincing Bill and Joe to help us chocolate cover several of them. Trying for the first time what may be the best fruit margaritas on the planet on the patio.

Devouring chocolate covered blackberries. A thing I’ve never had, and really ought to.

Bramble Rye changed, however, to memory. As the beer warmed up, the raspberries became more pronounced. And I was swept back to the moment raspberries were ruined for me forever.

A sunny day. I’m about ten years old. I’m with my grandfather out at our small town’s reservoir. It’s akin to a meadow in a very wooded area. Lots of sun around us, but places where the sun filters through the trees, casting little halos on some of the plants.

My grandmother and sister are around somewhere. My grandfather leans over and plucks the smallest, brightest red berry I’d seen in my whole life and gives it to me. It was a tiny wild raspberry, juicy and perfect. It tastes of love and summer. It tastes bright and sweet and tart. I love it.

For years, no other raspberry would do. I couldn’t stand them. They had been ruined for me by this perfect moment with my beloved grandfather, by the perfection of the gift, by the flavors that simply said, “I am raspberry.” What could compete with that?

I’m in my 20s, and my friend Corrine is visiting me. I live very near the Smithsonian National Zoo. I’m doing my M.Sc. research at their veterinary hospital, and I want to show her the walk I take daily. We’re going to go see that walk, then go into the zoo and check it out with her younger son. She knows of my aversion to raspberries.

She leans over the side of the road and plucks something. It’s a tiny wild raspberry. It’s juicy and perfect. I blink, and then I devour it. It’s exactly what I remember. Perfection in a berry. She smiles and comments that it’s too bad it’s so late in the season. The deer and birds will have gotten to most of them.

The rest of the day, we wander the zoo. I tell Little about various animals. Corrine and I chat about life. We pluck berries and devour them. I warn her there’s probably some pesticides that are really not fit for human consumption on these berries. She counters with the fact that we’re at a zoo and they probably don’t use herbicides. I assure her they do. We decide that for a handful of perfect raspberries, it’s worth it.

Bramble Rye. Three perfect days in one bottle.