3AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 11/20
UPDATED: SEP 29, 2012 I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s ironic how beers with fruity names seem so gimmicky, but beers that happen to have a fruity taste are so delightful. I’ve also said that just because a beer has a fruity taste doesn’t make it bad.
Given these circumstances, it’s actually surprising Harpoon’s UFO Raspberry Hefeweizen isn’t as good as you’d expect. Sure, the taste is authentic, but it just doesn’t make for a satisfying beer.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
Fruit-themed beers seem to marketed for drinkers that want something with a sweet taste, as if they were drinking alcoholic fruit juice (but isn’t that what wine coolers and “malt beverages” are for?). It’s no surprise that UFO Raspberry Hefeweizen pours exactly like juice with a dark pink/light orange color and a cloudy appearance (but with no sediment or pulp). It forms a small, bright white head but this dissipates very quickly. There is a lot of carbonation action present at the pour, but this too fades away as the beer is drunk.
Would you be at all surprised if this beer had a strong raspberry aroma? Sorry to state the obvious, but it does. It’s a pleasant scent, and a nice change of pace for a beer to smell like, but it’s not nearly as inviting as you might expect.
Raspberries aren’t known for being the main attraction of any dish or beverage – they’re always an additional ingredient. For a beer to be so raspberry-oriented in taste is quite daring so you have to give Harpoon props for taking a chance on a fruit that always plays second fiddle.
UFO Raspberry Hefeweizen definitely has one of the most original flavors, but that doesn’t mean it’s automatically perfect. In fact, this beer tastes much more like a tart fruit juice like one of those half-cranberry/half-other-fruit juices. The taste is certainly sweet, reminiscent of a raspberry pastry, but leans actually more towards being flat-out tart. There is zero indication of traditional beer ingredients like hops or malts, which lightweights would probably consider an attribute. However, a fruit-flavored beer should taste like something other than simply alcoholic juice.
For the most part, UFO Raspberry Hefeweizen is quite clean in its finish. In fact, I’ve never encountered a hefeweizen that WASN’T easy to drink, gimmicky flavor or otherwise. There definitely is some bite due to the fact the taste is pretty tart, so those who don’t like such a sweet flavor might not find it as smooth as those that do. I found the beer easy to drink at first, but as the glass emptied I was surprised the finish started to become coarser.
This beer is easy to drink thanks to its fairly clean finish as well as its light body. Gimmick beers tend to be light in body because they’re often picked up by people who want something tasty to bring to a party to get drunk on. Between the non-traditional beer taste and light weight, it’s easy to picture someone going through many bottles of UFO quickly and easily.
What it all comes down to is the fact that Harpoon’s UFO Raspberry Hefeweizen tastes more like a wine cooler than a fruit-flavored beer. As an inclusion to a Harpoon mix pack it’s great for married couples so the lady feels there’s a beer specifically for her to drink. But for single guys like me that just enjoy sampling different beers, it’s underwhelming. I’d prefer a beer that happened to have a fruity taste to it rather than a flat-out gimmick brew.