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Hold My Beer: Fruit Flavors in Beer

Fruit flavors in beer are having a renaissance, and for good reason! Learn about fruit-forward beers and discover brewers who’ve mastered these flavors.

In 2019, Punch listed Fruited Kettle Sours among their drink trends that should disappear. The beverage professionals they spoke to, however, were torn. One said, “Plenty are… fine, but they have mainly just become an excuse to dump fresh fruit puree over a humdrum beer.” Another stated, “Fruit beers good. Sour beers better. Fruited sour beers awesome.”

Today, it’s safe to say that fruit-forward beers are here to stay. Some believe this is due to the increased demand for fruit-flavored hard seltzers spilling over into beer. Others point to the heightened interest in better-for-you ingredients. Whatever the case may be, consumer tastes are clearly shifting.

Celebrate this recent flavor renaissance by learning about fruit flavors in beer. Plus, discover brewers who have mastered these flavors with beers you’ll have to taste to believe.


What is Fruit Beer?

Put simply, fruit beer is brewed with actual fruit, while fruit-flavored beer is flavored after fermentation with a fruit concentrate or extract. The latter is a relatively modern innovation, but Europeans have been brewing fruit beers for centuries.

Fruit beer is one that’s made with any fruit or combination of fruit. Simple as that. The Beer Judge Certification Program Guidelines are a bit more specific, though.

The culinary not botanical definition of fruit is used, so only fruits with flesh, seeds, and parts that are edible in their raw state may be used. Examples include pome fruit (apple, pear, quince), stone fruit (dates, prunes, raisin), tropical fruit (banana, pineapple, guava, etc.), figs, pomegranate, prickly pear, and so on. This does not include spices, herbs or vegetables in the classification.

Beer Judge Certification Program Guidelines on Fruit Beer

One of the most well-known fruit beers, the Belgian fruited lambic, was a product of wild yeast fermentation, enormous oak barrels, and lots of fruit. The natural yeast would ferment the sweet flesh of fruits like cherries (Kriek) or raspberries (Framboise) within the barrels, and then it was further aged to mellow out the tartness. 

It wasn’t until the craft beer boom of the 1980s that fruit became a relatively common ingredient in American brewing. Like many before them, American craft brewers simply used the ingredients that were readily available to brew delicious beer. The same could be said for those brewing beer using fruit-flavored extracts and concentrates. 

Fruit Flavors From Hops, Yeast, and More

It’s worth noting that even without using fruit, brewers have been experimenting with fruit flavors for a very long time. Craft Beer & Brewing explains “that brewers are more than capable of producing fruit-forward beers that contain no fruit or fruit extracts at all.” Hops, yeast, grain, and sugars can all be used to impart fruity flavors.

Citra, for example, can impart bright citrus and tropical flavors due to its terpene content. The right yeast strain and fermentation profile can create flavors reminiscent of banana bread, strawberries, black currant, and more.

Between using real fruit, various hop varietals, yeast strains, and flavor additives, brewers today just have more options than ever to create unique fruit flavors in their beers.

Mango Hops Terpene | Best Hops Terpenes | Abstrax Hops

Should You Brew with Fruit or Fruit Extracts and Concentrates?

It’s worth noting that brewing with fruit comes with additional considerations. Historically, fruit beers have been a seasonal offering simply because fruits themselves are seasonal and highly perishable. While this is a great way to make novel beers infused with local terroir, it comes with a price. 

First, fruit can be expensive. While fresh fruit became more commonly available between 1970 and recent years, the price of sourcing, transporting, and storing fruit adds up. Processing the fruit yourself requires hours of peeling, pitting, and chopping, and it all has to be perfectly timed to avoid spoiling or oxidizing. Some brewers have opted to use fruit purees that are more shelf-stable, but it can still be costly.

Consistency is another important aspect that makes it difficult to scale fruit beers. Even if a brewery manages to source fruit year-round, there’s no guarantee that each harvest will have the same flavor notes, acidity, sugar levels, etc. All of these items can greatly impact the final beer product.

Fruit extracts, on the other hand, are designed to be shelf-stable. Many are TTB-approved, they provide a consistent flavor, and they require less storage space. That means they provide greater scalability, ease of use, and they’re less expensive than real fruit. Not to mention that extracts are much more sustainable than real fruit. Since extracts can drastically multiply fruity flavor and aroma, much less is needed to infuse beers with concentrated, high-quality flavor.

Today, the Skyfarm Series makes it easier than ever to infuse beer with phenomenal fruit flavors. With the recent rise of alternative beverages and technological innovations in fruit flavor extracts, craft brewers are getting creative with real fruit, extracts, and more. 

Firestone Walker Brewing Company: Mind Haze Cosmic Crusher Juicy Imperial IPA

What started out as two brothers-in-law attempting to brew with converted winemaking equipment has led to twenty-five years of delicious beers available nationwide. For a phenomenal example of fruity brewing ingenuity, you’ll want to check out the latest additions to their bestselling Mind Haze family of IPAs, their Mind Haze Cosmic Crusher Juicy Imperial IPA (9.5% ABV). 

Mind Haze Cosmic Crusher Juicy Imperial IPA presents a celestial explosion of juiciness with bold flavors of succulent pineapple and mango. And now, the details: It’s built around two ultra-tropical hops, Galaxy and Strata. Matt and his team amplify these hops with our juicy yeast strain, which becomes even more expressive at higher ABVs. The result is a level of flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel that can only materialize at full strength.


Imprint Beer Co: Schmoojee Heavily Fruited Sours

They may have only been around since 2018, but Imprint Beer Co. isn’t a brewery you’ll soon forget. From their attention-grabbing labels and free-to-play retro arcade, these brewers like to get wild. Just try one of their Schmoojee Heavily Fruited Sours (6.5% ABV), and you’ll know exactly what we mean.

In the past, their Schmoojee flavors have run the gambit from patisserie-inspired desserts, ice cream flavors, candy confections, and so much more. Plus, between their off-the-wall flavors and artist collabs, these fruited sours are a feast for the eyes as well as your taste buds. Two of their current taproom Schmoojee offerings include:

Schmoojee Heavily Fruited Sours | Imprint Beer Co


Brew With the Brightest Fruit Flavors and Aromas

At Abstrax Hops, we provide beverage flavor and aroma solutions for brewers looking to streamline, innovate, and gain a competitive edge. With our knowledge, technology, and extensive resources, we’ve designed our Skyfarm Series so your customers can experience the high-amplitude, recognizable fruit flavors they expect.

Contact us today, and let’s collaborate on your next fruit-forward brew.

Skyfarm Sample Kit | Terpenes for brewers | Abstrax Hops

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