As the drive to offer new and different twists on your favourite brew continues to increase, there are more and more flavours of fruit beers appearing on the market. For many brewers, it’s a point of differentiation in a very competitive market.
Fruit beers certainly aren’t a modern invention, as fruits and vegetables have been used as additives in beer for centuries. Historically, they were often substituted when the grain harvest fell short. But in some regions, ingredients such as cherries, raspberries and peaches have become intrinsic to enduring beer styles.
One of the most notable might be the sweetly seductive Lambic beers of Belgium. Traditionally called kriek, this beer is made by breweries in and around Brussels using lambic beer to which sour cherries (with the pits) are added. A lambic beer is a sour and dry Belgian beer, fermented spontaneously with airborne yeast said to be native to Brussels. The addition of cherries (or raspberries) predates the almost universal use of hops as a flavoring in beer. A traditional kriek made from a lambic base beer tends to be sour and dry.
While the Belgian Lambic style is a growing inspiration to North American brewers, the general preference in Canada is for drier fruit beer.
The addition of fruit flavour to beer can be accomplished in one of two ways: fruit can be added during the fermentation process, or fruit juice or extract can be added to the beer after it has been fermented. Adding fruit during fermentation is generally considered to produce a higher quality result, but is also much more difficult as the fruit sugars add an extra level of complexity to the already volatile fermentation process. So the majority of fruit beers use the second method, which usually results in a sweeter and less complex, but more consistent end product.
Some of the most prominent brewers of fruit beer are the larger Chinese breweries, which widely market Pineapple and Lemon beer. But brewers around the world are experimenting with raspberries, peaches, blueberries, apricots, and many more fruit varieties. So, perhaps a good idea might be to consider adding a fruit beer to your repertoire this summer.