Many craft brewers these days are utilizing fruit in the production of their specialty beers, and although fruit has been a part of brewing history, its use has now become pretty mainstream.
There are many yeast strains that can give fruity flavors to beer as with Belgian yeast and also German Hefeweizen yeast, which gives a great banana flavor. That’s one way of getting fruit flavors into the beer, but actually adding real fruit to beer can produce many unique flavor profiles.
Brewers will use either fruit purees or add whole fruit to the brew at different stages of the brewing process. The brewer will select a fruit that they feel complements the style of beer that they are brewing. Sometimes the fruit flavor is subtle and sometimes it’s more pronounced. It will often depend on the flavor of the fruit itself or the quantity of fruit used. Often the season will dictate what fruit the brewer selects during the year.
Everything from tropical fruit, such as pineapple and mango, to stone fruits that include peaches, apricots and cherries, can be added to the beer. Each will add a unique component to the beer and complement the malt, hops and yeast flavors of that beer.
Some brewers are aging their beers in wine barrels with fresh fruit added to the barrel. These beers can have a tart fruitiness to them that can be quite refreshing. Fruit can be added to almost any beer styles but some of the more popular styles include American-style wheat beer, pale ales and IPA’s, and many Belgian styles.
With many options to chose from, give these craft-brewed fruit beers a try and you may find some very interesting flavors! Cheers!
Rob McFerren is the owner of Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Co.