Fruit Additives for Beer: What, Why and How

Fruit flavored beers are incredibly popular throughout the year. You need to make sure that you do it in the right way if you want to add some fruit flavoring to your own batches. Doing it incorrectly can cause quite a few problems, ranging from little flavor added to ruining your entire batch. Here are some tips for the hopeful brewer thinking about ramping up their flavor complexity.

Why Add Fruit?

Fruit beers are great ways to celebrate the spirit of a particular season. For instance, oranges and other citrus fruits are great options for the warmer summer months and you might like the taste of strawberries during the springtime. Many other flavors are available including, blueberry, cherry, apricot, blackberry, raspberry, peach, cranberry, banana, black currant, grape, watermelon and more.

Fruit or Syrup?

The first question that needs to be answered is whether you should use actual fruit in your brewing or if you should opt for a syrup instead. While some breweries do use real fruit, it can be quite costly for the home brewer. It’s really best to start with syrup if this is your first attempt in this area. You’ll find a ton of different flavors and types on the market and you will also be able to save cash over going the whole-fruit route.

When Should You Add the Syrup?

Another common question here is when you should add the syrup. Quite a few people make the mistake of adding the syrup during the primary fermentation. While this can work, it’s not the best situation. You ideally want to add the syrup to your secondary fermenter (whatever that might be) just before you bottle the beer. Why is this? You will lose quite a bit of the flavor that you are seeking if you add the syrup too soon. You are able to maximize the fruit flavor that you want by adding your syrup to the last portion of the process and minimize infection.

Consider Batch Size

Most fruit syrups or extracts are sold in 4-ounce containers. This is enough to flavor an average 5-gallon batch of beer. However, you will need to have more extract on hand if you are brewing more than the standard 5-gallons or want a stronger fruit presence in your beer. Just remember that the more syrup you use, the stronger the fruit flavor will be. You’ll want to do some experimenting first but you can adjust the amount of flavoring used to your specific tastes.