Bananatana, as in bananas and sultanas. Banana beer! What? Yes, but don’t freak out—this is actually a very interesting connoisseur beer that was created to showcase the concept of beer brewed with fruit rather than the syrup and extract beers that comprise much of the so labeled “fruit beers” on today’s market. Bananatana does not use extracts or fruit juice concentrates—it uses the actual fruits themselves as a major contributor of fermentable sugars, which means the sugary, extract-laden, fruit syrupy notes that you may expect in a “fruit beer” will not be found here—instead, this is a more subtle, more genuine fruit beer (or “beer with fruit” as the label is keen to point out). And it’s made with grapes, so the beer-meets-wine-meets-forget-expectations-because-there-are-bananas-too factor is in full effect here ladies and gentlemen. So, set any preconceived notions aside, and open your minds as you taste this burnished gold, butterscotch-colored hazy brew. Expect impressions of freshly peeled banana, instead of in-your-face banana esters—the beer actually has less banana notes than some hefeweizens we’ve had. Look for sultanas to contribute notes of fresh grapes. You’ll encounter some alcohol notes, similar to a weizenbock, with less banana & clove character than what you’d get by way of hefeweizen yeast. The nose is rounded out by some tart notes evoking Sweethearts candy, perhaps a bit Pez-like, with faint notes of blonde tobacco. Expect soft banana notes in the flavor profile, which take a back seat to a striking tartness, grape skins and mild cracked pepper. Finishes with mild notes of berries, gueuze, and plenty of alcohol, leaving a gin-and-grapefruit-cocktail-like character in the linger, and a nice almost wine-like acidity. This beer threw us for a big curve ball, as we really didn’t know what to expect. We thought it would be a big freaky banana bomb, but it’s really true to itself by being a tart fruit beer, truly lambic-like, using nontraditional lambic fruits. An engaging brew that brought us right back to the days when we were discovering styles for the first time. We savor moments like those on our beer panel.