10 best fruit beers
Get fruity with a refreshing take on the classic pint
It’s doesn’t seem long ago that in order to obtain a decent fruit beer you would have to travel to Belgium, where the marriage of sweet fruits and sour beers has a proud history.
But times in the brewing world have very quickly changed and brewers from other countries are not only mimicking those Belgian ales, but also bunging ripe fruits into any kind of beer they can think of.
Sour styles, such as Lambic, Berliner Weisse or Gose, may be the most obvious fit for fruity additions, where the flavours of ingredients such as cherries and raspberries naturally enhance the sharpness created by wild fermentation.
But smarter brewers have worked out how to successfully combine fruit with almost any kind of malt and hop mix.
Citrus and tropical fruits, in particular grapefruit, orange and mango, have similar flavour profiles to some modern American hops making them work well in pale ales, whereas autumnal ingredients including plums and blackberries compliment the richer flavours and aromas of dark porters and stouts.
We’ve been puckering up our lips for some fruity fun from a vast range of beers and have picked out 10 that we think show off some of the finest flavours available.
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Boon Kriek, 4%: £3 for 375ml, Waitrose
We could give several places in our top 10 to Belgium’s amazing cherry Lambics, but have opted for Brouwerij Boon’s version as it’s now readily available in the UK.
Brewed using spontaneous fermentation by wild yeasts unique to the Pajottenland region, Lambics have deliciously crisp, sour flavours and a fizz worthy of the finest champagne.
It’s the perfect foil for the load of cherries Boon adds to the mix, with their tart fruity flavours mingling with an almond sweetness that lends the drink a mellow richness.
Stringers Damson, 6%: £3.09 for 330ml, Beer Hawk
If you like to drink the seasons then we suggest loading up on Camden Brewery’s Strawberry Hells Forever during the summer months before switching to this Cumbrian treat when the nights start to lengthen.
It’s a dark beer that has undergone a slow re-fermentation with damsons and is produced in limited editions, so snaffle it while you can. It has a bit of vinegar sourness, a grape mustiness and is unusually dry.
Within its plummy depths you’ll find some rich damson jamminess and cherry-like tartness along with some spicy, yeasty flavours. Unusual, complex and hugely enjoyable – just what we look for in a fruit beer.
Westbrook Brewing Co Red Raspberry Port Pipe Finish, 5%: £13.75 for 375ml, Beer Gonzo
As with a lot of American craft brewers, South Carolina’s Westbrook Brewing Co like to experiment with barrel ageing and this pricey beer has been through quite a lengthy process to arrive in the bottle.
It’s a blend of mixed fermentation sour beers from two different oak foudres (vats) that has been re-fermented for six months in port pipes (barrels) in the company of a load of raspberries.
It’s a light brown, murky beer that has been tinged with pinkness and has an instant aroma of ripe raspberries that intensifies on drinking, tasting so fresh you have to check there are no pips between your teeth.
The effects of the barrel-ageing develop with a leathery, tannic maturity and a biting sour tang.
Siren Pompelmocello, 6%: £3.19 for 330ml, Honest Brew
In recent years the grapefruit has barged its way to the front of the fruit queue when breweries go hunting for interesting adjuncts to plunge into their beers.
Described as a “Sour IPA” the ingredients also include lactose, which enhances the sweeter grapefruit flavours and makes the sourness reminiscent of citrus flavoured yoghurt.
The beer’s grapefruit makeover is complete with a slap of tartness and some pithy bitterness.
Wild Beer Co, Sleeping Lemons, 3.6%: £2.59 for 330ml, Beer Hawk
The gose style of beer takes a lot of abuse from brewers who pimp it up with overpowering fruits and excruciating sourness, but that’s not the case with this Wild Beer Co’s effort.
They have preserved lemons in salt before adding them to the beer and, while there’s the tart acidic bite you would expect from a sour beer and lemon combination, the delicacy of the malt and hops still shines through.
The slight salinity is as you would expect from the style (salt is a traditional gose ingredient) and the overall effect is of a breezy beer that makes a perfect, refreshing accompaniment to a light lunch.
Buxton Sonrisa, 4.7%: £4.99 for 375ml, Honest Brew
Buxton Brewery describe this as a “breakfast beer” on account of it being made with oats, clementines and a squeeze of lemon.
It’s a pale ale in which the fruit has been used to give a zesty twist to the beer rather than be the dominant flavour.
It has a faint citrussy aroma and is an easy sipping beer with the clementines softly nudging you for attention before becoming more apparent at the finish.
It’s a simple fresh and fruity drinking pleasure, but if you’re eager for more orange then check your beer shops in April for Beavertown’s Bloody ‘Ell, their much anticipated annual IPA flavoured with blood oranges.
Titanic Plum Porter, 4.9%: £1.65 for 500ml, Morrisons
The roasted malt flavours of this porter provide a more flavoursome base than many of the brews in this list, so the plum juice addition has to do a little more work to make its presence known without wrecking the beer.
It makes an instant impression with the aroma – sweet fruity fragrances mingle nicely with the coffee notes – and the plummy pleasures continue with every sip, adding a rich fruity intensity to the brew and a sweet, juicy contrast to the toasty bitterness that lurks beneath.
Lindemans Pecheresse, 2.5%: £1.70 for 250ml, Beer Merchants
This beer isn’t a hit with everyone – some people will grumble that it’s too sweet and not strong enough – but if, like us, you occasionally fancy a bit of peachiness in your beer then it’s as good as you’ll find.
Another Belgian Lambic beer, it has traces of the mature oaky funk found in other beers of this style – but those sweet peaches take centre stage before finishing off with flickers of tart and bitter notes.
Samuel Smith, Organic Apricot Beer, 5.1%: £2.39 for 355ml, Drink Supermarket
We like Samuel Smith’s fruit beers and featured their raspberry version in our Best Organic Beers list, so this time we’re tucking into apricots.
It’s made by blending a mature beer with apricot juice (and more beer) to create a golden ale that has the sticky jam sweetness of apricots up front with a smooth, pale malt in the background.
There’s even a touch of beery bitterness going on, but even this only helps accentuate the apricot’s sweet pleasures.
Innis and Gunn, Mangoes on the Run, 5.6%: £1.75 for 330ml, Morissons
There are slim fruit pickings at the cheaper end of the supermarket shelves, but we were pleasantly surprised by this mango flavoured IPA from Scotland’s Innis and Gunn.
There’s some graininess evident in the malt and more noticeable bitterness than most fruit beers, which sits well with sweet, fruity mango and citrus. A great value can of fruit flavours.
The Verdict: Best Fruit Beers
A Belgian fruit Lambic is a thing of beauty, so to have Boon’s Kriek readily available in the UK at such a reasonable price is a reason to pop the cork and celebrate.
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