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A familiar and reputable brand, a beer I'd never had before, and cheap: the tumblers fell into place as I picked this bottle of Rodenbach Fruitage off the shelf at Fresh in Smithfield. Mind you, I didn't think the 3.9% ABV non-specified fruit arrangement in a 25cl bottle would be any good. These rarely are, though must go a bomb in Belgium as lots of otherwise-respectable sour beer breweries make them.

It looked classy, at least: a deep ruby red. The aroma is pure candy, all cherry lips and raspberry chews. Tastewise it's more like a soft drink than a sticky sweet. There's lots of fizz, reminding me of highly carbonated cherryade from my childhood, a substance that doubtless involved no real cherries. This does, I'm sure, and after the initial sugar-and-fizz hit there's an air of cyanide bitterness in the background.

If the sweetness doesn't put you straight off, this is quite enjoyable. It's a long way from plain Rodenbach -- still the best beer in the portfolio -- and it's not completely ruined by the enhancements in the way that too many Rodenbach variants are. There's a little complexity here, and by not being a total tooth-rotting nerve-jangler it gets a pass from me.