Is it already the one-year anniversary of the Budweiser Pumpkin Peach Ale ad?
How time flies, and how we continue fussing over our beers, noses perked over the bouquets to take in the complexities the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) additions as craft beer all but abandons the Reinheitsgebot. Fruited beers are all the rage, ranging from prickly pear to blueberry to kumquats, and more.
Beyond the macro-driven orange and lime wedges, there are big sellers like Scupulin grapefruit IPA and Leinenkugel’s Berry Weiss, and an infinite number of one-off experiments in between.
German purity laws aside, fruited beers have a long tradition in beer. From countering the sour of a Berliner Weisse, popping some brightness into a framboise, and accenting a cask or heavier beer with extra layers, the right touch of an extra ingredient goes a long way.
Here’s a collection of some fruit additions that have passed enough taste tests to reach the canning or bottling line, just waiting to get those waxed mustaches atop the tulip glass ready to dissect.
Southern Tier (Lakewood, NY)
Citrus fruits are sort of a given seeing as how they pair with the new wave of proprietary hops. In this unique combination, Southern Tier brews with blood orange juice and tangerine and grapefruit peels to pull a fruity sweetness atop of the imperial wheat base. Over four and half pounds of peels were added to each barrel in the brewing process and, with the inclusion of Mosaic hops, the blood orange shines through. 3 Citrus Peel Out releases in April, the first in Southern Tier’s Imperial Series.
Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, MI)
Another citrus, sure, but again it comes with a twist. This beer was first a limited release in 2013 and returns in 2016 as part of Founders Backstage Series. It’s a high gravity beer brewed with sweet mango, but with a touch of habanero pepper to bring the heat. Referring to the series as “the brewers’ playground,” it’s an experimental and unique beer that brings together unexpected flavors. Mango Magnifico con Calor hits shelves on March 1.
21st Amendment Brewery (San Francisco, CA)
A summer seasonal wheat beer, 21st Amendment brews with real watermelon. Unsurprisingly, it’s quite refreshing, though also with a crisp dry finish instead of the heightened sweetness one would expect. The brewery adds watermelon during a second fermentation and, if curious, the color of the pour remains a regular straw-colored wheat, not pink.
Samuel Smith (North Yorkshire, UK)
This layered beer isn’t just a combination or ingredients; it’s made in two separate breweries. Starting at All Saints Brewery in Stamford, it’s brewed with organic barley and wheat before transporting to Samuel Smith where the strawberry is added. As the hops interplay with the sugary fruit, it creates a creamy and balanced overall flavor, strawberry-forward, but not strawberry-dominant.
New Glarus Brewing Co. (New Glarus, WI)
Rhubarb is a vegetable, but without adding sugar it’s, well, pretty much a weed. That’s where the strawberries come into this wild Wisconsin beer, brewed in New Glarus and then aged in their wild beer caves. It’s big and tart, yet compellingly smooth and highly carbonated. It also gets dipped in wax.