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Brewing with Fruit


by Randy Mosher
Fruit Amount
Raspberries 3
The easiest fruit from which to make beer. Their intense, single-minded character
hangs in there forever and cuts through almost any other flavor present. As little as
pound will give a pleasant flavor in lighter, frothy beers, but to 1 pound per
gallon is a better rate for serious brews. Usually the fruit provides enough acidity,
but taste before bottling and add acid if the fruit tastes dull. Red raspberries seem
to have a better flavor than black.
Cherries 1 4
Of all fruits, cherries are the most traditional, as well as one of the most elegant.
The subtle flavor of the cherries blends well with the tastes of the malt, without
completely overtaking it. Sour cherries are the best; sweet ones just dont have the
guts to do the job. If you want to make a beer that tastes just like cherry pie, use
Montmorency cherries. Remember, it may take a blend of different cherries to
make the best beersome for color, some for intensity, and some for acidity.
Blueberries 1 3
Do not hold up well during fermentation. The fresh blueberry character is so
delicate that it often gets lost in the context of a beer, even a light one. In beer,
their color is not blue; its more of a purplish pink. Cooking may actually enhance
the flavor of blueberries, so you may be able to use a couple jars of jam in a beer
like a wit or weizen, where the pectin haze wont be a problem.
Blackberries 1 4
Similar to raspberries, but with considerably less specific aromatically intense
flavor. They have a beautiful purple color, and may be used in other fruit beers for
that effect alone.
Peach/Apricot 1.5 5
Peaches are often a disappointment. The taste of the finished beer is often rather
flat and somewhat gummy. Apricots produce a much better beer; in fact, they
make a fine peach beer. I have had good experience with apricot extract. If one
insisted one making a peach beer, it might be wise to have a bottle of apricot
extract sitting around to beef up the flavor at the end of fermentation.
Strawberries 4 8
Strawberries rarely live up to their promise. The flavor fades quickly along with
the color, leaving an orange-hued, vaguely fruity beer behind. The best strawberry
beers are those made in a light style, to be drunk in their youth. Absolutely ripe
fruit is essential, so you wont be able to use grocery store berries. Unless you can
get out to the farm, frozen strawberries are your best bet.
Apples Mild aroma, acidic. Improves head. Best for mead or cider.
Grapes Best in meads (pyment). Aromatic varieties like Muscat are good.
Citrus Fruit Only the zest is needed. For example, the zest of one bitter orange is sufficient for
5 gallons of beer. If you cant find bitter (Seville) oranges try 2 parts sweet orange
zest with 1 part grapefruit zest; also double quantity compared with sour orange
zest. Tangerines, tangelos and blood oranges are good options. Use organic!!!
Raw Fruit: Depending on location you can often get raw fruit at the peak of freshness for maximum impact on
the beer. The down side to natural raw fruit is that from a beer standpoint it is dirty. If you want to keep wild
yeasts and bacteria out of your precious brew this can be a challenge with raw fruit. Secondly, the fruit likely
needs to be processed in some way, such as a food processor or freezing to release its goodness into the beer.
Fruit Extracts: The largest advantage that extracts have is the extremely low likelihood of a microbial
contamination. These things are often made as alcohol based extractions of fruit flavors and they are easily
filtered free of microbes. They are also easy of use. You can easily control the amount of flavor you get by
adding a little at a time to a keg or bottling bucket. Just add an ounce at a time, stir and taste. The disadvantage
with extracts is that many people complain they tend to taste unidimensionalsomething is just missing from
the flavor profile that you can only get with fresh fruit.
Prepackaged Fruit Products: Namely, we are referring to fruit purees. With
these products you get the advantage of whole fruit fully processed to expose
the fruity characteristics and you get cutting edge packaging and handling
technology. Many fruit purees are flash pasteurized so the microbial
contamination issue is eliminated. The only minor disadvantage is expense.
People have also had success using 100% juice or fruit concentrates.


- Reduce hopping rates as high bitterness and fruit often clash.
- Decide the base beer and then design the fruit component to complement (or vice versa)
- Fruit cannot mask a bad beer.
- You may need to decrease bottling sugar to account for additional slow fermenting sugars if you had
a truncated secondary fermentation period. This will decrease chances of bottle bombs.


Fresh or Frozen Fruit: To be sanitary, fresh or frozen fruit should be pasteurized before introducing them to
fermentation. (If small fresh fruit is used, break the skin by crushing.) In order to do this, heat with some water
(whatever is needed to cover) to 165F and hold for 15 to 20 minutes. DO NOT BOIL!!! That will set the
pectins and cause pectin haze in your beer. Add to secondary and ferment an additional 7-14 days. Rack to
tertiary fermenter to leave behind sediments. Bottle after 4-7 days.

Fruit Juice/Concentrate/Puree: For juice/concentrate, make sure to check ingredient list and exclude any
products that have preservatives (e.g., sodium benzoate). Add the juice/concentrate/puree to the secondary

Fruit Extracts: Add to bottling bucket.

**Generally, it is better to add fruit as late as possible in the brewing/fermentation process to eliminate:
1.) Pectin haze caused from boiling the fruit
2.) Scrubbing of the fruits aromas during primary fermentation
a. In other words, dont let the aroma goodness be pushed out the airlock with the CO2 during
the strong, active phases of fermentation.