Brewing With Fruit

By: Brian Pramov

Adding fruit to your beer is used to add complexity to your brews.  With the different styles of beer and  fruits available, the sky is the limit with ideas.  Warmer months are just around the corner making it the perfect time to start brewing with fruit!  There are multiple ways to brew with fruit in your beer.  Should you use puree?  Real fruit?  Extract?  How much fruit should I add?

When to add Fruit

From personal experience, the best results for fruit beers have been added post fermentation.  This allows the lighter, more delicate, fruits to keep their aromatic qualities instead of the yeast blowing them off with CO2 production.  Some fruits also produce vegetal qualities when boiled so we do not recommend adding them to your boil.  So with that in mind, there have been recommendations to start with  1 lb to 1 gallon ratio of real fruit to volume of beer.  Remember, you can always add more, but you can’t take it away.  The best results I’ve seen have used a mixture of puree and real fruit.  This helps with both the flavor and aroma complexities.  Just like using multiple types of hops in a double IPA adds complexity, so does different type of fruit additions.  Also remember that introducing fruits that contain sugars will restart fermentation!

How Much to Add

Try using 1 can of the fruit puree in the primary fermenter after primary fermentation has completed.  After that has completed fermenting again, rack to a secondary fermentation vessel with the real fruit.  Be sure to pasteurize your fruit!  This can be done by either bringing your fruit to 170 degrees to kill off wild yeast and bacteria.  Another option is to dice up your fruit with a sanitized knife and freeze them.  This will break down their cell walls and allow the fruit to be introduced into the beer better.  Allow the beer to condition on the real fruit anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on how you enjoy the fruit flavor and aroma.

Lastly, fruits contain something called pectin that will create haze in your beer.  Some fruits have more pectin than others and contribute more haze.  You may not care to remove this from your beer but if you do, be sure to add Pectic Enzyme to the fruit before adding it to the beer.  Also to note is the stronger fruits to add to beer are blackberries, raspberries, and passion fruit.  Fruits like cherries, strawberries, blueberries and peaches will most likely need a larger volume of fruit due to their delicate nature.

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