I've heard stories that, prior to Zima, Mike's Hard Lemonade, and the deluge of flavored malt beverages spilling from liquor store refrigerators and college girls' mouths, beer companies were faced with a problem: how do you get people who don't like beer. . .to drink beer?
courtesy google image search. At least it's not blue Powerade and gin.
The answer often came in the form of painfully sweet, psuedo-fruit flavored concoctions that one might consider the forerunners to Smirnoff Twisted Ultra Passion Berry Delight IV. Sam Adam's Cherry Wheat is the perfect and best known example: a thick, sugary beverage that has more in common with Robitussin than beer. Michigan Brewing Company's Celis Raspberry is another perfect example. And it's not that all fruit beers are bad, either. Dozens of fantastic fruit beers hail from Michigan, from Atwater's cherry stout to The Vierling's blueberry wheat, Dark Horse Brewing's raspberry ale, and Founder's Cerise.
I admit, the beer pours a beautiful golden hue tinged with pink. The beer is almost transparent, which unfortunately means the yeast sediment is prominently visible and rather unappealing (I know this is my fault, I should've left that last half ounce in the bottle). The head is extremely light and vanishes almost instantly, leaving just a trace of a ring around the inside of the glass.
Aromas coming from the glass elicit feelings of grade school; I am reminded strongly of raspberry poptarts mixed with cotton candy. The sugar is in the scent itself, a thick smell similar to simple syrup or agave nectar. The taste follows where the smell left off, continuing the “too sweet to enjoy” marathon of flavor right from the nostrils to the stomach. Fake raspberry is in clear focus here. It's similar to just about every raspberry malt beverage made. Counterpoint: if you're surrounded by delicious beer and have with you a person who just can't stand all those bitter/dry/burnt flavor – you've got a winner here. Celis Raspberry represents the best attempt at breaking into the college party girl market I've ever tasted by a Michigan Brewer.
Of course, all this whining carries with it two enormous caveats. First, Celis Raspberry is brewed by the same company whose genius brought us the High Seas IPA – a beer that remains my favorite traditional IPA of all time. Just because they make a beer that is (clearly) not to my taste in no way means I would write off this brewery; in fact I am excited to try more of their offerings. Second, this beer was responsible for the best pancakes I have ever had. So think of this beer like grandmother's cooking sherry; throw it in the pan, not in your mouth.