Why fruit is the hottest trend in beers right now

Fruit and beer might seem an uneasy marriage for some, but brewers have been combining them for centuries.

A lambic is a sour, wild, wheat ale native to Belgium's Senne Valley. Cherries or raspberries are commonly added during fermentation, respectively creating the kriek and framboise styles.

Another ancient Belgian style, witbier, relies on the addition of orange peel. And Berliner Weisse, the sour wheat ale unique to Berlin, was commonly flavoured with a shot of fruit flavouring at the point of sale.

Old world brews

These beer styles live on today and some are undergoing a resurgence in the New World, as creative brewers seek to entice drinkers with different flavour experiences.

Fruit is also being employed in beers in less traditional fashions. In Australia, 2016 was the year of India Pale Ales (IPA). In the United States, it was year of fruit IPAs, which bolster tropical and citrus hop characters with complimentary fruit additions.

San Diego's Ballast Point Brewing was a forerunner of the trend, with its Sculpin IPA spurning one hugely successful offshoot, Grapefruit Sculpin, and then another, Pineapple Sculpin.

The right balance

The baton has been picked up in Australia by Fixation Brewing Company, which this month released a small pilot batch of Squish Citrus IPA, featuring grapefruit and blood orange additions.

As in any style of beer, the key to a good fruit beer is balance, according to Fixation co-founder Tom Delmont.

"Some brewers are probably grabbing at the fruit addition just to get a bit of attention, instead of complementing what should be a pleasant hop flavour and aroma, with a subtle addition of fruit behind it," he says.

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But first, beer

Glen Wignall of Grifter Brewing Company in Sydney agrees that less is definitely more, when it comes to working with fruit.

"I still am not a huge fan of putting fruit in beers. The way we do all our beers is, it's got to be a beer first – the fruit has to be somewhat in the background," he says.

What the people want

The Serpent's Kiss Watermelon Pilsner has nevertheless become a permanent addition to Grifter's range.

"I had seen other watermelon beers around – I like the flavour and I thought it would go well in a pilsner style of beer," Wignall said.

"We've settled on it being in the core range recently, because it's so popular. People were hounding us for it."

An international flavour

Other brewers have avoided the low hanging fruit in conceptualising their beers. The Okinawa Sour from Melbourne's Temple Brewing Company features the shikuwasa citrus, which is only grown on Japan's Okinawa Island, as well as Taiwan.

"We have been working on this for the last six months after we were introduced to the fruit by Fumi Tamura, owner of the Japanese bar Horse Bazaar in Melbourne," Temple's Mark Waghorne said.

Featuring sours, wheats, IPAs and a pilsner, scroll through the gallery above for a selection of some of the most exciting fruit beers currently available in Australia.