Forbidden Fruit

McMenamins runs low on one of its signature brews—and it’s all Serbia’s fault.

By Kasey Cordell May 19, 2009

I’M NOT AFRAID TO ADMIT IT: Sometimes I like fruity beer, especially at the end of a long, hot, glorious summer day. So imagine my disappointment when, on two separate occasions this September, I was denied the delicious raspberry flavor of McMenamins’ signature Ruby brew. “Sorry, we’re out,” said one server at the Fulton Pub on SW Macadam Avenue. “We can’t make it because there’s a raspberry shortage.” I blame Serbia. The Eastern European country is the world’s largest producer of raspberries, and last year it had a down crop. Of course, the fact that Chile, another significant raspberry grower, also had a near complete crop failure didn’t help. “Berries went from about 60 or 70 cents a pound to nearly $2 in the Northwest,” says Mark Johnson, logistics manager for Oregon Fruit Products Co, which supplies McMenamins with the fruit purées it uses in its brews. Ever the innovator, however, McMenamins replaced Ruby (at least in its smaller bars) with Purple Haze, a beer made with boysenberries. (It’s not Purple Haze’s first appearance, though; the ale showed up at the 2008 Spring Beer & Wine Fest.) Purple Haze turned out to be so popular that the beer brothers have decided to keep it in a few pubs throughout the winter. As for Ruby’s fate, the Serbs came through with a good raspberry crop in ’08, so the tasty beer should re-emerge by the time this issue hits newsstands. Too bad we can’t say the same thing for the sun.

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