Fruit to a Scotsman, is like Kryptonite to Superman. One whiff of an orange, a mere nibble of a banana, a slice of apple and we go the way of the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz. It's a fact . On the other hand, beer to a Scotsman is like that magic potion that Asterix the Gaul drinks. It's the nectar of the Gods. A veritable elixir of life.
And thus, I approached Wanganui by Fallen Brewing, a kiwi-fruit laced, Antipodean take on the pale ale (on a Sunday night, no less!) with some trepidation. Fruit beers seem to be a big thing just now. They're not exactly new - folk have been brewing using fruit for, well forever. But right at the moment, fruit-enhanced beers seem to be The Next Big Thing. But me, drink a beer with fruit in it? Madness.
"Fruit to a Scotsman, is like Kryptonite to Superman."
After advising the missus to check online for the symptoms of toxic shock syndrome, I cracked the can and took a swig. Then another. And another. No convulsions overtook my body. I didn't begin to froth at the mouth. My lips didn't go blue and I felt no swelling in my body (other than my belly, but that may have been the bag of tortilla chips I'd recently despatched). No, the only thing I could honestly say I could feel at that moment in time was ...enjoyment. This stuff ...is good!
So what is Wanganui then? Well, Wikipedia tells me that it's a city on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island. Why did Fallen choose to name their beer after this city, other than the fact that it sounds sort of cool? Honestly, I have no idea as I can't see anything online in my (admittedly limited) searches that would link the city to beer, but I guess it's possible that some of the NZ hops used in the IPA (taiheke and huell melon, since you ask) could have been cultivated in the region.
"Kiwis? Those fuzzy little green testicles seem like too much hard work."
So look, all joking aside, I don't eat a lot of fruit. It's probably laziness on my part - I just can't be arsed peeling or chopping or whatever - but I very rarely eat anything healthy like that. I know I should - I know it's good for me. It's just that I prefer all the stuff that's really bad for me, as it usually tastes better. And honestly, if you look at the list of fruits that I'm likely to eat, kiwi's probably wouldn't even make the top ten. In fact, they'd be lucky to appear at all. Those little green fuzzy testicles seem like too much hard work.
But beer I do like. And I also like Fallen Brewing. And the idea of a pale ale flavoured with kiwi was, if anything, intriguing to me. I'm well aware that the amount of content on the site has taken a nosedive recently (sorry), so this seemed like an ideal opportunity to try out something unique that may result in an article.
But back on track. With Wanganui, Fallen have created a beer unlike anything I've seen on the market before. Sure, there are other fruity beers around, but nothing with kiwi added. And it works. You definitely get the essence of kiwi fruit coming through in the background of this beer. It's subtle though - it doesn't overpower the beer. I was expecting it to be really sweet, perhaps cloying. But it isn't like that. This is a pale ale first and foremost, but with the kiwi there in the background, adding another interesting element to the mix.
There's also a melon-y hit there too, added by - unsurprisingly - the Huell Melon mentioned on the bottle (and above). Now I'll admit - I thought that this was an actual type of melon, but it's not - it's a variety of hop, related to the Cascade and Huell varieties. And it's well named - it adds a honeydew melon essence to the beer too. Again, it's subtle and it works really well with the hint of kiwi to give the beer a really tropical, fruity flavour.
"This is a pale ale first and foremost, but with the kiwi adding another interesting element to the mix."
Now, to finish, I'm not going to go as far as claim that because there is fruit juice in this beer that it counts as one of your five a day and thus, is good for you. But I'm not NOT going to say that either. We're all adults here - you come to your own conclusions. What I will say is that with Wanganui, Fallen have come up with a really crisp, clean, fresh pale ale with minimal bitterness, a dry finish and subtle, but tasty, fruit hit. It's really great stuff and Fallen should be commended for coming up with something as good as Wanganui. I've never tasted another beer with a similar flavour, so it really is something unique (as far as my limited palate can tell). Thoroughly recommend this stuff.