Best Way to Add Fruit to Your Next Brew

Spring is right around the corner, and one of the great things about spring is brewing up those awesome fruit beers. They can be super refreshing and transform your next brew into something amazing!

When is the best time to add fruit to your beer?

It kind of depends on what you are going for but I personally prefer to add fruit whenever possible to the later stages of fermentation, say day 7 of 14. This gives the most fruit flavor IMO.  Fruit can be added to the boil as well, but this increases the chances of blow off and can sometimes yield a lower flavor potential.

Will you get a different flavor from adding canned fruit vs fresh fruit to your beer?

You will. Canned fruit is usually cooked and it can lose a bit of its flavor intensity compared to fresh frozen fruit. You may also notice a difference in the clarity with canned fruit, as canned fruit tends to contain more expressed pectin, which can contribute to chill haze.

What are the best practices for adding canned fruit to your beer?

If you are using canned fruit, make sure there aren’t a ton of additives. Fruit water, sugar and possibly natural stabilizers like citric acid, are all your canned fruit should ideally contain. Before adding the canned fruit directly to a fermenter, it’s not a bad idea to sanitize the top of the can and the opener. You can also blend canned fruit to provide a higher concentration of flavor, but you will also need to sanitize your blender prior to doing so.

What are the best practices for adding fresh fruit to your beer?

You really want to make sure whatever fruit you are adding is sanitary. That is so important. If you wish to add fresh fruit, it’s important to make sure you are stopping any possible bacteria growth with either freezing, cooking or with the addition of distilled alcohol. For example, citrus zests can be easily sanitized by soaking them in vodka. It’s also important to make sure that you are going to enjoy the flavor of the fruit you are adding once the sugar is fully fermented out. You also want to make sure that if you are adding fruit in the later stages that you are ensuring that your fruit has been fully fermented prior to bottling.

Will adding fruit cause your fermenter to overflow?

It can, this is more likely to happen if you add fruit during the boil or at the start of fermentation. Basically anytime you add fruit around the time of exponential growth (first 5 days or so) you could get a blow over. I find these overflows happen far less when you add fruit later, around day 7.

Is there such as thing as adding too much fruit?

There is. I usually say the range for fruit is about 1-2lbs per gallon. Too much fruit can cause clarity and bottling issues from time to time, but also you can run the risk of messing with the viscosity of your beer or running into cidery or wine-like flavors if too much fruit sugar is present. It’s also important that whatever you add, should ideally not sit exposed on top of the surface of the beer as it can mold. So just all things to keep in mind.

Can you add fruit to your bottles?

You can add refined fruit syrups but I do not advise adding actual fruit to your bottles.