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Beer or juice?

How to use fruit in brewing so a beer stays true to itself.


Citrus, grapefruit, berries, mango, dark cherry and every other imaginable fruit have found a way into the beer description vocabulary. The funny thing is that in most cases the beer described does not contain fruit at all! These fruity aromas and flavors are the result of using a specific yeast (think of banana notes in weissbier) or hop variety that leave their special mark on hop-forward beers.


However any beer style can be enriched with fruit. Some styles get more interesting with the addition of fruit while others are not so welcoming. When adding fruit, it is important to envision what the desired flavor of the beer will be and how it will complement the rest of the ingredients used. The other important thing is to not overdo the fruit addition. We are brewing beer, not squeezing juice. The form of fruit added also matters. Fruit can be frozen, in some form of extract or fresh. Each one has its good and bad sides. 


Some fruits are better than others but playing with fruit expands the possibilities and allows the brewers to experiment with a wider range of ingredients. Here are a few fruits that work really well with beer.


Sour cherries are a great addition to a dark beer like stout or porter because the acidity can beautifully complement the dark malt flavors. Roast, cocoa, coffee and dark chocolate are the usual hallmarks of a great stout. Adding sour cherries to this mix brings another layer of complexity. The best part is that with age the flavors tend to evolve.


Brewers across the globe love raspberries because they work well with many styles. If matched with the right hop variety, they will make a hop-forward beer like an IPA shine even brighter.


Oranges are best when added to light summer beers like belgian wit. They make the beer more vibrant, zesty and highly refreshing.