Subscriber Exclusive

Flavor Fever: Fruit for the Senses

By taking a step back to think more deeply about why we love fruit—and why some fruit beers really shine—we can better plan a truly great one. Randy Mosher peels back the layers and gets to the core of it.

Randy Mosher Apr 4, 2022 - 12 min read

Flavor Fever: Fruit for the Senses Primary Image

Photo: Matt Graves/

Who doesn’t love fruit? Its sweet lusciousness and acidic balance drive us to near-delirium. Why wouldn’t we want to put those exciting flavors into beer?

Almost as soon as brewing began, people started doing just that: hawthorn fruit in Neolithic China; cranberries and lingonberries in Bronze Age Sweden, and more. It’s not clear whether fruit beer persisted through the Middle Ages, but Heinrich Knaust mentions a kirsch (cherry) beer in 1614. As far as I can tell, fruit beer never achieved dominance anywhere in Europe over the past couple of millennia. Instead, here and there, it was a seasonal specialty; fruit is highly perishable, and freezing and pasteurization weren’t viable until modern times.

In the original canon of “classic styles”—think Michael Jackson’s early writings—cherried versions of Belgian lambic and oud bruin were the only fruit beers. They were modestly popular at least by the 1930s but are possibly much older. Early U.S. microbrewers added fruits to their easygoing American wheat ales with some market success, such as with the apricot version from Seattle’s Pyramid Ales.

Make & Drink Better Beer

Subscribe today to access all of the premium brewing content available (including this article). With thousands of reviews, our subscribers call it "the perfect beer magazine" and "worth every penny." Your subscription is protected by a 100% money back guarantee.