Plasma Wave: Berry Rainbow | Brothership Brewing
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Ah, childhood. Some of us have fond memories of our childhood, usually focusing on the things we did or experienced. One of the more fond memories for some (read: brewers) focus on things that we ate or, in some cases, still eat. This trend started simply enough with things like Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout from Cigar City, Abraxas from Perennial, and Proprietor’s 2013 from Goose Island. Soon enough things shifted from making beer taste like that food or candy to just simply adding it to the beer. And so we land on Brothership Brewing Plasma Wave.
I first heard of Brothership Brewing at Crafted’s Small Batch Festival in 2019. That festival featured one-off and small batch beers made specifically for it – usually over 10%, including an adjuncted imperial gose – and Brothership’s offering had sold out by the time I arrived. I found out what they poured thanks to booth neighbor Triptych – a sour ale brewed with Swedish Fish. (Upon checking now, it appears to be an IPA now.) Whatever it was, that beer is now Plasma Wave and Brothership has released multiple versions of it, including a Berry Rainbow version.
This Plasma Wave: Berry Rainbow features raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, cherry puree, wild berry candy flavor and lactose. I have no idea what “wild berry candy flavor” means specifically, but I can almost guarantee it’s available at the store.
As with most of these types of sour ales, Berry Rainbow pours a vibrant color, in this case blend of red and purple. While not neon bright like some others of the style, a simple Instagram filter can fix that! Look away and you’ll miss the pink head, as it only stays around very briefly. A certain filmniess exists on the top, giving it a distinctive sheen. Kind of looks like a Fruit Roll-Up! While not the thickest looking beer I’ve had, it moves a little slow in the glass.
Hey! Fruit! Jammy raspberries followed by cherries and strawberries hit your nose hard. That jamminess reminds me of beers like de Garde’s Imperial Bu series and fresh New Glarus VSB(batch 1). I gave it to my wife and she recalled Naked Blue Machine (it’s a juice drink not some anime, look it up). Maybe because I’m in that headspace but it sure smelled like Fruit Roll-Ups and/or some of the more fruity fruit snacks. A bit worried but not overly so.
And, hey, not sweet at all. Plasma Wave: Berry Rainbow comes off as more tart than anything else (wife expected sweet and was visibly displeased). A fair amount of tartness greets you, but thankfully my savior lactose comes in and puts a halt to all of it. Cherry and raspberry show up strong, while blackberry finally announces its presence. Again, in my headspace, it kind of reminds me of a multiple fruit Fruit Roll-Up. Or when you mash them all together in your mouth (you know you did).
Berry Rainbow has some really high carbonation. Much like the head, things move and leave very quickly with only some raspberries hanging around. If I had to guess, Berry Rainbow clocks in at under 5% ABV. Glad I didn’t guess, as the can says 7%. If that’s true, watch out. 7% ABV and this drinkable can lead to some unintended drunkenness.
The lactose stands out as the best and worst thing about Berry Rainbow. That introductory tartness could easily overwhelm the beer, but the lactose steps in and keeps it in check. But that same lactose also seems to also cut the fruit flavor a bit in concert with the high carbonation. I would’ve liked some of that jammy fruit to stay around and linger, requesting multiple sips. Instead, Plasma Wave: Berry Rainbow hits with some juice and gets out, remaining very, very drinkable.
While not what I expected, I’ll be on the lookout for the other Plasma Wave beers to see if things change when Brothership tries a different fruit or candy or style (like IPA). And, after drinking it and repeatedly typing Berry Rainbow out, I think I figured out the candy. Skittles, maybe?