Fruited beers may not have centuries’ worth of tradition behind them, but they’re one of the most popular trends in craft brewing today. The rise of fruit purees, in particular, has made rich flavors not only possible but easy, and the possibilities for experimentation are more abundant than ever. Let’s explore how you can add fruit puree to your beer, and a few ways to incorporate them into different styles. With a few tips and tricks, you can create a brew that’s both delicious and totally unique!
Ways to Use Fruit Puree in Beer
There are two major schools of thought when adding fruit puree to the wort. Should you add it to the primary or secondary fermenter? While the secondary is easier, the primary is better if the fermenter itself is small or if you plan on adding a lot of fruit.
In the Primary Fermenter
If you plan on adding fruit puree to the primary fermenter, you’ll want to wait until the primary fermentation is almost done. When your hydrometer is reading about 1.020 or you see 3-5 bubbles a minute coming out of the airlock, you can add fruit puree to the wort.
If you have a small carboy of five gallons or less for your secondary fermenter or you plan on adding ten pounds of fruit or more, the fact that most purees have fermentable sugars in them means that your wort can bubble over. To avoid this, just add puree during the primary fermentation, even if the process is a little more complicated.
In the Secondary Fermenter
Adding puree to the secondary fermenter is as easy as it gets. Clean the secondary carboy as usual, funnel in the puree, and then add your beer on top — that’s it! Be sure to leave it for a little longer than usual to account for the puree’s fermentable sugars.
With nothing to measure and no precise time to add the fruit, this is the most popular method of adding fruit puree to beer. It works best if you have a large secondary fermenter, but it’s simple, quick, and produces delicious results.
Ways to Use Fruit Flavors in Beer
Ultimately, which fruit flavors go best in which beers is a matter of personal taste. But some pairings traditionally work better than others or have been proving themselves among beer fans. Check out these classics and use them as a starting point for your experimentations.
The intense flavor profile of a sour means it’s perfect for pairing with strong, tart fruits. The popularity of sours is on the rise again, so it’s the best time to make one that stands out from the rest. Tart fruits like raspberry are great to add to a sour beer. They give the drink a fuller, richer body and a juiciness that complements the inherent qualities of this brew. For instance, the downside of most sour beers is that any other notes get overwhelmed by the sharp taste, but tart fruits are able to stand up against these flavors.
One of the primary qualities of an IPA is its fruity, citrusy flavor. Pairing these flavors with another fruit is the perfect way to create a bold brew. With IPAs, you can either add a fruit that’s complementary or deliciously contrasting. On the complementary side, you have tart fruits that bring out the fresh flavor of the beer! Exotic fruits, like the maracuya, add a tropical twist to your brew. If you’d rather soften the sharp bitterness of the IPA, sweet fruits, such as peaches, are a popular choice.
Loaded Wheat Beers
Fruited beers are a relatively new trend, but wheat beers have been served for decades with an orange slice. The light, crisp flavor of a wheat beer lends itself perfectly to most fruits, so it’s hard to go wrong with this style! From tangerine to strawberry to pineapple, you can create a bold, fruity wheat beer that will keep the crowds coming back for more.
If you want to get really experimental, try mixing multiple fruits for a unique flavor combination. You don’t have to go overboard here — start with something simple, like a wheat beer with apricot and strawberry puree. That’s a beer you could practically have for breakfast.
Hefeweizens already have a bit of fruit flavor, so they’re a perfect choice for pairing with fruit puree. With a banana flavor as the base, adding puree becomes about complementing or contrasting this totally unique taste. Many brewers opt to contrast the banana, such as with grapefruit hefeweizens. But it’s also fun to lean into the banana and brew with fruits that pair well with that flavor, such as blueberries, guava, or papaya.
Blondes are usually drunk on their own. Light and crushable, it’s hard to pair them with most foods. But when you reinforce their flavor with a good fruit puree, like mango, they become bold enough to eat with dinner, while not being so strong that they overpower it.
As Chef Joel Gamoran of Homemade says on the subject: “Combining subtle food like chicken or fish with the bright flavor of fruit is a surprising and fun way to make dinnertime special. Chicken and mango is a classic combo.”
Stouts are already rich and chocolatey. That’s why they’re perfect for brewing with fruit puree — who doesn’t love dunking a piece of fruit in a chocolate fountain? Strawberries and raspberries are obvious (and excellent) choices. But so long as you err on the sweet side, it’s hard to go wrong.
If you’re looking to experiment, try using rich, earthy fruits to complement the strength of a stout. Brew stouts with plum for a unique, delicious dessert beer.
This is just the beginning. There are so many ways to experiment with fruit puree in beer that it’s impossible to list them all! As long as you get creative with flavor profiles and make something you know you would want to drink, you’ll come up with a great brew that your guests will love.
Author Bio: Julia Nikolaus is a content strategist for an LA-based company. She enjoys working with food and drink brands along with beauty and fashion clients. In her free time, Julia likes to bake new recipes, take dance classes, and spend time outdoors.