If you think mixing beer and fruit is for whimps, then think again! Properly balanced ‘fruit beer’ can be the perfect, refreshing beverage on a hot summer’s day.
Although relatively uncommon currently in Australia, craft brewers around the world are busy experimenting with fruit in their beers in new and creative ways. But it can be risky. Brewing processes have to be timed to incorporate the fruit before it spoils. Ripe fruit hosts all kinds of living organisms that can impact the flavour of the beer – so there’s no guarantee of what the end product will taste like. It’s really quite experimental.
Fruit is seasonal so accessing the optimal fruits for brewing has to be well planned out, and ideally, sourced from local growers. Not all fruits are equal when it comes to fruit beers. Some fruits hold their flavour much better than others.
The first fruit beers probably date back to the ancient Egyptians, when dates and pomegranates were incorporated into their fermented drinks. The Belgians are the oldest of the ‘modern’ fruit brewers. Fruit lambics have been made in Belgium for many years, and their truly special beers are made with fermented with wild yeast then aged in oak barrels. These processes create tart flavours which they offset with the addition of sweet, fresh fruit.
The best known examples are sour cherry beers (krieks), lambics made with raspberries (framboise) and with black currants (cassis).
The Berliner Weisse style, from the Berlin region in Germany, is another interesting example. While not technically a fruit beer it’s a sour beer, with fruit syrups added – generally raspberry (Himbeersirup) or artificial woodruff flavouring (Waldmeistersirup). This style is becoming popular in many countries.
Fruit beers are enjoying a resurgence with the microbrewery explosion around the world. Wheat-based fruit beers in particular are even starting to become mainstream in the United States.
Critically, a properly balanced fruit beer should not betray the underlying beer. Fruit beer is, after all, beer first and foremost, with a touch of fruit flavour – and not a cider or wine cooler.
So why not take the ultimate test of your muscle and try one for yourself?
Murray’s Brewery is releasing its ‘Melon Rouge’ Watermelon Wheat Beer on 3 December, and pouring all summer. While it’s a drinker’s dream, it’s a bit of a brewer’s nightmare as it’s one of the stickiest, messiest brews of the year!
Made from more than 100 fresh local watermelons, the base is an American-style Wheat beer. The freshly hand-cut and pulped fruit is then added at the fermentation stage. The flavour is subtle, not overpowering watermelon. And the colour is a soft pink hue of the fruit. It’s easy drinking and really refreshing.
In addition, Murray’s Brewery is brewing a Blood Orange IPA for the New Year, and has plans for both mango and raspberry Berliner Weisse beers and other fruity flavours in January.
Hopefully we’ve given you some fruit (and grains) for thought! Now kick back at Bobs Farm and enjoy the best fruit beers of the brewers’ labour!