Top 10 Fruit Beers

By Bob Barnes

Best Beers Brewed With Real Fruit

From Corona in Mexico to Kristallweizen in Germany, beer drinkers have long garnished their brews with wedges of lime or lemon. In fact, many of the brews listed in our Top 10 Spring Beers and in our Top 10 Summer Beers taste great with a touch of citrus.

In summer months, it’s not uncommon to dilute suds with lemonade or fruit soda for refreshing Radlers and Shandys. But throwing actual fruit into the brewing process is relatively novel. We have the Belgians to thank for first eschewing the German Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot) — which requires that beer contain only water, yeast, malt and hops — and adding raspberry and cherry.

Nowadays, you can find beer with banana, blueberry, strawberry, apricot, peach, tangerine, black currant and apple. Check out GAYOT’s list of the Best Fruit Beers to find top-notch brews that pack a fruity punch.

Speaking of packing a punch, if sour beers are what you’re after, these Top-Rated Sour Beers will make you happy.

> The selections are presented in alphabetical order.

1. Abita Purple Haze

Abita Purple Haze

Origin: Covington, LA, U.S.A.
Beer type: Wheat
Price: $8.99 for six-pack 12 oz.
ABV: 4.2%
Brewed by: Abita Brewing Company

Produced from the Abita Brewing Company of Louisiana, Abita Purple Haze is an American wheat beer that packs a (fruity) punch at a mere 128 calories.

It’s brewed with fresh raspberries after filtration, which explains the subtle purple hue as well as the unmistakably fruity aroma and flavor. The presence of raspberries married with a wheat lager allows for a crisp, refreshing and light-bodied taste that pairs well with salads or fruit.

2. Flying Dog Bloodline Blood Orange Ale

Flying Dog Bloodline Blood Orange Ale

Origin: Frederick, MD, U.S.A.
Beer type: Fruit Beer
Price: $13.99 for six-pack 12 oz.
ABV: 7%
Brewed by: Flying Dog Brewery

The Flying Dog Brewery came about when the founder, George Stranahan, was inspired by a dog painting he spotted after his triumphant scale of the K2 summit.

The Bloodline Blood Orange Ale was initially brewed as a small-batch release in 2013 but is now available year-round. Produced with blood orange peel, this ale has strong notes of grapefruit, orange blossom and rose hip in its aroma. The pervading tartness and bitterness blend to create a citrus flavor that is dominant yet subtle. The overall smooth and crisp mouthfeel plays well with the bitter orange peel finish that leaves you wanting another sip.

3. Lindemans Pomme

Lindemans Pomme

Origin: Vlezenbeek, Belgium
Beer type: Fruit Beer, Lambic
Price: $5.99 for 12 oz.
ABV: 3.5%
Brewed by: Brouwerij Lindemans

The Lindemans brewery has its roots as a family farm with a small brewery that began the commercial brewing of lambic ales in 1822.

The fruit seasoning this lambic is apple (pomme is French for apple). Long before hops were common in most beers, fruits and herbs were used as bittering agents! As with all Belgian lambics, immediately after being brewed the beer is left in vats open to the outside air, where it is fermented by a variety of wild yeasts. The yeast provides plenty of tartness, as do the fresh apples that are added during a secondary fermentation. This apple lambic pours a light golden hue with a thick foamy head of tightly packed bubbles. An aroma of sweet and sour apple dominates, which may remind you of a Sour Apple Jolly Rancher candy. A Granny Smith Apple flavor continues as you sip, with sweetness up front turning to tartness in the aftertaste. Unlike ciders, which tend to be overly sweet, this lambic has other complexities from the yeast. This beer has a diminutive 3.5 percent alcohol content, making it easy drinking.

4. Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat

Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat

Origin: Eureka, CA, U.S.A.
Beer type: Fruit Beer
Price: $3.69 for 22 oz.
ABV: 5%
Brewed by: Lost Coast Brewery

One of the few breweries to be founded by women, Lost Coast Brewery in California’s Humboldt Bay region began in 1986 when homebrewers Barbara Groom and Wendy Pound wondered what it would be like to open their own brewpub.

From its humble beginnings, Lost Coast has grown exponentially and is now the 49th largest brewery in the U.S. and 36th largest craft brewery in the nation. This wheat beer pours a beautiful burnt orange honey color. Its aroma is anything but subtle and will remind you of a freshly peeled tangerine. Upon tasting, this beer makes a transformation, with an initial flavor delivering a mild tangerine sweetness that, after swallowing, turns into a tangy aftertaste with bitterness reminiscent of tangerine peel zest. Both flavors blend well with the combination of wheat and crystal malts and Perle finishing hops. Tangerine Wheat is one of Lost Coast’s two fruit beer offerings, the other being its Raspberry Brown.

5. Magic Hat #9 Not Quite Pale Ale

Magic Hat #9 Not Quite Pale Ale

Origin: Burlington, VT, U.S.A.
Beer type: Fruit Beer
Price: $7.99 for six-pack 12 oz.
ABV: 5.1%
Brewed by: Magic Hat Brewing Company

Magic Hat’s flagship beer is shrouded in mystery, prompting questions such as: ‘Why is it not quite a pale ale?’ and ‘What does the number 9 signify?’

The answer to the first question is simple, albeit long: This beer is brewed with apricots, and while the aroma is loaded with this key ingredient, its flavor comes across with a subtle, citrusy sweetness with a touch of tartness, just as in the actual fruit. Fermented with the brewery’s 150-year-old strain of top-fermenting English yeast, it’s light-bodied and has mild hop bitterness, which are atypical of the average pale ale; hence it’s not quite a pale ale. As for the mystifying #9, the brewery won’t reveal its secret. Be sure to examine the inside of the bottle cap, which includes cryptic messages such as, “This cap will self destruct in 10… 9…” This beer is not for everyone, but if you like apricots, you’ll probably enjoy it.

6. Ommegang Three Philosophers

Ommegang Three Philosophers

Origin: Cooperstown, NY, U.S.A.
Beer type: Quadrupel
Price: $9.95 for 750 ml
ABV: 9.8%
Brewed by: Brewery Ommegang

This interesting take on a Belgian style is actually partially authentically Belgian.

It’s a blend of 98 percent Ommegang Quadruple from Cooperstown, New York, and 2 percent Liefmans Kriek, a cherry lambic from Belgium. The aroma is heavy with tart cherry and dark fruits, with a sweet malty backbone. Considering the small percentage of cherry lambic in the blend, it’s not surprising that the cherries are not a main player in the taste profile. But the lambic nonetheless adds to the complexity of this malt-heavy ale. We also appreciate that the cherry character is tart rather than sweet, and that it shows primarily in the aftertaste. Typical for a quadruple, the alcohol strength is nearly 10 percent with a balance of sweet and savory.

7. Samuel Smith Organic Strawberry

Samuel Smith Organic Strawberry

Origin: Stamford, England
Beer type: Fruit Beer
Price: $5.99 for 18.7 oz.
ABV: 5.2%
Brewed by: The Old Brewery

This fruit beer is brewed and fermented at the small and historic Melbourn Brothers All Saints Brewery in Stamford, Lincolnshire, England.

It is then blended, conditioned and packaged at Samuel Smith’s The Old Brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire’s oldest brewery. Not much has changed since the All Saints Brewery began brewing in 1825. Its manually operated brewing equipment still in use today includes an ancient grist mill and copper brewing vessels. The Lincolnshire region is known for producing excellent fruit such as the organic strawberries used in this ale. The bouquet of this beer boasts the authentic scent of fresh, ripe strawberries. It is spontaneously fermented with wild yeast, and while the complex yeasts contribute toward tart and sour flavors similar to a Belgian lambic, strawberry juice adds some sweetness to the balance. Strawberry, though a bit subdued, is the dominant flavor, and is further balanced by a creaminess and a touch of bitterness from the hops.

8. Shipyard Smashed Blueberry

Shipyard Smashed Blueberry

Origin: Portland, ME, U.S.A.
Beer type: Fruit Beer
Price: $8.99 for 22 oz.
ABV: 9%
Brewed by: Shipyard Brewing Company

Part of the Pugsley’s Signature series, named after Shipyard Brewing Company’s Master Brewer Alan Pugsley, this beer is a hybrid between a Porter and a Scotch Ale.

Roasted barley and chocolate malt give it its Porter-like, dark brown color and chocolaty richness, while its English ale yeast and robust 9 percent alcohol strength place it in the parameters of a Scotch ale. The aroma is dominated by natural, fresh blueberry joined with scents of coffee and cocoa. The blueberry is present in the flavor, but subtle, just as this fruit is typically known to present itself. Those who don’t care for fruit beers should like this one, as it’s not your normal summer fruit beer.

9. 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon

21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon

Origin: San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.
Beer type: Wheat
Price: $7.99 for six-pack 12 oz.
ABV: 4.9%
Brewed by: 21st Amendment Brewery

21st Amendment Brewery was named in reference to the repeal of Prohibition and harkens back to the original 20th century concept of breweries as neighborhood gathering places.

This emphasis on capturing the American essence of brew can be found in the Hell or High Watermelon’s Statue of Liberty logo. But appealing packaging and cheeky copy aside, this wheat beer definitely delivers on its promise of “summer in a can.” The tart aroma introduces a pervading watermelon flavor that blends with the wheat malt and ends with a dry finish. Available from April to September, this subtly sweet beer is the perfect summer drink.

10. Wells Banana Bread

Wells Banana Bread

Origin: Bedford, England
Beer type: Fruit Beer, English Bitter
Price: $4.99 for six-pack 12 oz.
ABV: 5.2%
Brewed by: Wells & Young’s Brewing Company

Bananas may be one of the last fruits one would think of to put in beer, even though they are the preferred fruit of many.

Produced by Wells & Young’s Brewing Company in Bedford, England, this traditional English bitter is a dark golden ale made with fair trade bananas. Its aroma of banana and wheat may remind you of childhood memories of waking up to the smell of your mother baking this dessert bread. Up front, the banana flavor comes through and is blended with a backdrop of toasted malt for a bread-like taste similar to the baked good it’s named for. The finish is dry and slightly sweet, and while it’s perfect for dessert, this brew still tastes like a beer and is easy to drink.