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Specialty Fruit Beer

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Specialty Fruit Beer is a catch-all term for any beer brewed with fruit other than one of the few distinctly defined substyles of fruit beer. There are many successful examples of commercial and homebrewed specialty fruit beer brewed with many kinds of fruit, including cherries, apricots, peaches, and blueberries.

Contents

Brewing with Fruit

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Competition Styles

The BJCP defines one specialty fruit beer style, with a separate style only for Fruit Lambic; the GABF style guidelines also recognize separate categories for wheat-based fruit specialties and Pumpkin Beer.

BJCP Style Guidelines

Fruit Beer

20. Fruit Beer Vital Statistics
BJCP Style Guideline Definition (2004)
IBUs: varies SRM: varies OG: varies FG: varies ABV: varies
Aroma: The distinctive aromatics associated with the particular fruit(s) should be noticeable in the aroma; however, note that some fruit (e.g., raspberries, cherries) have stronger aromas and are more distinctive than others (e.g., blueberries, strawberries) - allow for a range of fruit character and intensity from subtle to aggressive. The fruit character should be pleasant and supportive, not artificial and inappropriately overpowering (considering the character of the fruit) nor should it have defects such as oxidation. As with all specialty beers, a proper fruit beer should be a harmonious balance of the featured fruit(s) with the underlying beer style. Aroma hops, yeast by-products and malt components of the underlying beer may not be as noticeable when fruit are present. These components (especially hops) may also be intentionally subdued to allow the fruit character to come through in the final presentation. If the base beer is an ale then a non-specific fruitiness and/or other fermentation by-products such as diacetyl may be present as appropriate for warmer fermentations. If the base beer is a lager, then overall less fermentation byproducts would be appropriate. Some malt aroma may be desirable, especially in dark styles. Hop aroma may be absent or balanced with fruit, depending on the style. The fruit should add an extra complexity to the beer, but not be so prominent as to unbalance the resulting presentation. Some tartness may be present if naturally occurring in the particular fruit(s), but should not be inappropriately intense.
Appearance: Appearance should be appropriate to the base beer being presented and will vary depending on the base beer. For lighter-colored beers with fruits that exhibit distinctive colors, the color should be noticeable. Note that the color of fruit in beer is often lighter than the flesh of the fruit itself and may take on slightly different shades. Fruit beers may have some haze or be clear, although haze is a generally undesirable. The head may take on some of the color of the fruit.
Flavor: The distinctive aromatics associated with the particular fruit(s) should be noticeable in the aroma; however, note that some fruit (e.g., raspberries, cherries) have stronger aromas and are more distinctive than others (e.g., blueberries, strawberries) - allow for a range of fruit character and intensity from subtle to aggressive. The fruit character should be pleasant and supportive, not artificial and inappropriately overpowering (considering the character of the fruit) nor should it have defects such as oxidation. As with all specialty beers, a proper fruit beer should be a harmonious balance of the featured fruit(s) with the underlying beer style. Aroma hops, yeast by-products and malt components of the underlying beer may not be as noticeable when fruit are present. These components (especially hops) may also be intentionally subdued to allow the fruit character to come through in the final presentation. If the base beer is an ale then a non-specific fruitiness and/or other fermentation by-products such as diacetyl may be present as appropriate for warmer fermentations. If the base beer is a lager, then overall less fermentation byproducts would be appropriate. Some malt aroma may be desirable, especially in dark styles. Hop aroma may be absent or balanced with fruit, depending on the style. The fruit should add an extra complexity to the beer, but not be so prominent as to unbalance the resulting presentation. Some tartness may be present if naturally occurring in the particular fruit(s), but should not be inappropriately intense.
Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel may vary depending on the base beer selected and as appropriate to that base beer. Body and carbonation levels should be appropriate to the base beer style being presented. Fruit generally adds fermentables that tend to thin out the beer; the resulting beer may seem lighter than expected for the declared base style.
Overall Impression: The distinctive aromatics associated with the particular fruit(s) should be noticeable in the aroma; however, note that some fruit (e.g., raspberries, cherries) have stronger aromas and are more distinctive than others (e.g., blueberries, strawberries) - allow for a range of fruit character and intensity from subtle to aggressive. The fruit character should be pleasant and supportive, not artificial and inappropriately overpowering (considering the character of the fruit) nor should it have defects such as oxidation. As with all specialty beers, a proper fruit beer should be a harmonious balance of the featured fruit(s) with the underlying beer style. Aroma hops, yeast by-products and malt components of the underlying beer may not be as noticeable when fruit are present. These components (especially hops) may also be intentionally subdued to allow the fruit character to come through in the final presentation. If the base beer is an ale then a non-specific fruitiness and/or other fermentation by-products such as diacetyl may be present as appropriate for warmer fermentations. If the base beer is a lager, then overall less fermentation byproducts would be appropriate. Some malt aroma may be desirable, especially in dark styles. Hop aroma may be absent or balanced with fruit, depending on the style. The fruit should add an extra complexity to the beer, but not be so prominent as to unbalance the resulting presentation. Some tartness may be present if naturally occurring in the particular fruit(s), but should not be inappropriately intense.
History: not specified
Comments: Overall balance is the key to presenting a well-made fruit beer. The fruit should complement the original style and not overwhelm it. The brewer should recognize that some combinations of base beer styles and fruits work well together while others do not make for harmonious combinations. THE ENTRANT MUST SPECIFY THE UNDERLYING BEER STYLE AS WELL AS THE TYPE OF FRUIT(S) USED. IF THIS BEER IS BASED ON A CLASSIC STYLE (E.G., BLONDE ALE) THEN THE SPECIFIC STYLE MUST BE SPECIFIED. CLASSIC STYLES DO NOT HAVE TO BE CITED (E.G., "PORTER" OR "WHEAT ALE" IS ACCEPTABLE). THE TYPE OF FRUIT(S) MUST ALWAYS BE SPECIFIED. If the base beer is a classic style, the original style should come through in aroma and flavor. Note that fruit-based lambics should be entered in the Fruit Lambics category, and other fruit-based Belgian specialties may be entered as Belgian Specialty Beers. Aged fruit may sometimes have flavor and aroma characteristics similar to Sauternes, Sherry or Tokaj, but a beer with a quality such as this should make a special claim (e.g., amontillado, fino, botrytis).
Ingredients: not specified
Commercial Examples: Bell's Cherry Stout, Dogfish Head Aprihop, Pyramid Apricot Ale, Pete's Wicked Strawberry Blonde, Abita Purple Haze, Melbourne Apricot Beer and Strawberry Beer, Saxer Lemon Lager, Great Divide Wild Raspberry Ale, New Glarus Belgian Red and Cherry Tart, Magic Hat #9, Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale, Grozet Gooseberry and Wheat Ale, BluCreek Blueberry Ale, Spanish Peaks Raspberry Wheat

GABF Style Listings

Fruit Beer

4A. Fruit Beer
GABF Style Listing (2007)
Fruit beers are any beers using fruit or fruit extracts as an adjunct in either primary or secondary fermentation, providing obvious (ranging from subtle to intense), yet harmonious, fruit qualities. Fruit qualities should not be overpowered by hop character. Beers containing a fruit (such as juniper berry) with herbal or spice qualities would be more appropriately entered in the herb and spice beer category. Beers containing pumpkin would be more appropriately entered in the pumpkin beer subcategory below. Acidic bacterial (not wild yeast) fermentation characters may be evident (but not necessary); they would contribute to acidity and enhance fruity balance. Clear or hazy beer is acceptable in appearance. To allow for accurate judging, the brewer must list what fruits are used, and may also list a classic style of base beer, or any other ingredients or processes used (for example, bacterial or Brettanomyces fermentation). Beer entries not accompanied by this information may be at a disadvantage during judging.
Original Gravity (ºPlato): 1.030-1.110 (7.5-27.5 ºPlato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (ºPlato): 1.006-1.030 (1.5-7.5 ºPlato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume): 2-9.5% (2.5-12%)
Bitterness (IBU): 5-70
Color SRM (EBC): 5-50 (10-100 EBC)


Fruit Wheat Beer

4B. Fruit Wheat Beer
GABF Style Listing (2007)
Fruit wheat beers are any classic light wheat beers (see subcategories 2a and 3a above) using fruit or fruit extracts as an adjunct in either primary or secondary fermentation, providing obvious (ranging from subtle to intense), yet harmonious, fruit qualities. Fruit qualities should not be overpowered by hop character. Beers containing a fruit (such as juniper berry) with herbal or spice qualities would be more appropriately entered in the herb and spice beer category. Beers containing pumpkin would be more appropriately entered in the pumpkin beer subcategory below. Acidic bacterial (not wild yeast) fermentation characters may be evident (but not necessary); they would contribute to acidity and enhance fruity balance. Clear or hazy beer is acceptable in appearance. To allow for accurate judging, the brewer must list what fruits are used, and may also list a classic style of base beer, or any other ingredients or processes used (for example, bacterial or Brettanomyces fermentation). Beer entries not accompanied by this information may be at a disadvantage during judging.
Original Gravity (ºPlato): 1.036-1.056 (9-14 ºPlato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (ºPlato): 1.004-1.018 (1-4.5 ºPlato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume): 3-4% (3.8-5%)
Bitterness (IBU): 10-35
Color SRM (EBC): 2-10 (4-20 EBC)