Gluten-Free Beer Styles: Fruit Beers

Photo: Fried Dough/Fickr.

In this post, we’re going to continue our journey through the many different styles of gluten-free beers. Up now: Fruit beers.

A fruit beer is a beer brewed with fruit (obviously) as an adjunct, giving the beer a sweet, tart flavor. Fruit has been used as an ingredient in beer for nearly as long as beer has been brewed. Technically speaking, you could turn any beer style into a fruit beer by simply adding fruit during the brewing process (ie, fruit ale, fruit lager, etc).

In the non-gluten free market, there are many examples of this style, ranging from mainstream pilsners that use artificial flavoring/extract to ales brewed with fresh fruit. One beer style that is commonly brewed with fruit are Belgian lambics. These beers ferment using naturally occurring yeast and have a dry, cidery flavor. They often use fruit to complement this. A common example is Framboise beer, which is Lambic made with raspberries (framboise is French for raspberry).

INCORPORATING FRUIT INTO THE BREWING PROCESS

The fruit flavoring is often adding right before or during the fermentation phase. As fruit contains fermentable sugar, it does not need to be mashed like grains do. There are two common ways to add fruit to the brewing process:

  1. Use real fruit: This means adding in either whole fruit or fruit juice to your recipe. This adds not just the flavor, but the acidity and additional fermentable sugar to your brew. This can mean a slightly sourer, more alcoholic, complex beer.

  2. Use extracts: These can be either real fruit extracts or artificial flavors. These do not add the same levels of acidity and contain no sugar, so brewers often add other ingredients to increase the acidity and bring out the fruit flavor.

GLUTEN-FREE FRUIT BEERS

A few breweries have started brewing gluten-free fruit beers. This is for a few reasons. First, fruit beers have been increasing in popularity in the past few years, as craft beers have become more mainstream and beer drinkers look for new alternatives. Second, most brewers use sorghum in their beers, which often lends a unique aftertaste. The sweet, acidic flavor from the fruits complements (or masks, depending on the goal) this flavor well.

There are currently two brewers making gluten-free fruit beer (all use sorghum malt or extract):

  1. Dogfish Head Tweason’ale: Perhaps the most common is the Tweason’ale, from the well-known (non-gluten-free) craft brewery Dogfish Head. A lighter seasonal, the ale is brewed using the juice from fresh-squeezed strawberries, as seen in these pretty damn cool animated gifs.

  2. New Planet 3R Raspberry Ale: A light, fruity raspberry ale from gluten-free brewery New Planet.

What’s your take on fruit beers? Too sweet or just right? Let us know by posting a comment below.