What is Berry Beer?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Berry beer is a lot like what it sounds: a beer flavored with berries or fruit. Some common flavorings in berry beer include raspberry, blueberry, cherry, and loganberry, but any number of berries or fruits could potentially be used. Many breweries offer a berry beer seasonally, and it is also possible to make berry beer at home, although it helps to have beermaking skills before you begin.

Berries used to flavor berry beer.
Berries used to flavor berry beer.

The flavor of a berry beer can be quite varied, depending on the base beer used. It can range from a very rich, dense stout to a lighter, more frothy wheat beer, paired with the fruit flavor which best matches the beer. Pairing berries with beers is actually quite an art form, as you might imagine, because some flavors will clash horribly, while others will turn out bland and dull. In the best of all possible worlds, berry beer has a complex flavor with a luscious fruit finish which brings out the natural fruity tones in the beer.

Three types of beer. Nearly any type can serve as the base for a berry beer.
Three types of beer. Nearly any type can serve as the base for a berry beer.

Many berry beers are made with pureed fruit or berries added into the beer as it ferments. In other instances, fruit extracts may be added. Some people feel that the use of fruit extracts is not advised, as it can create a chemical flavor in the beer, and fruit extracts may not yield the complex flavor which one generally desires with a berry beer. Fresh fruit is also advised, as dried fruit can lose flavor during the drying process.

Many berry beers are made by adding pureed fruit to the beer as it ferments.
Many berry beers are made by adding pureed fruit to the beer as it ferments.

Some people loathe berry beer, often because they have not tried a high-quality berry beer. Others dismiss fruit flavored beers as “girlie beers,” despite the fact that many very robust and manly beers already have berry and fruit overtones created through the fermentation process. Fans of berry beer tend to be rather selective about their beer, often preferring the work of a particular brewery which they trust to make a good berry beer.

Blueberries may be used to flavor beer.
Blueberries may be used to flavor beer.

In the world of gourmet beer, options can get confusing and very complex. Just like regular beers, berry beers pair better with some foods than with others, and it is a good idea to taste a beer before serving it with a meal. Some foods will bring out the natural flavors in the beer, while others will muffle them, and in some cases, a food can cause a clash of flavors. For example, a very citrusy meal might not always pair well with a berry beer, because the beer could seem extremely cloying when paired with the tart citrus, or it may turn fiercely sour or bitter.

Some breweries offer seasonal berry beers.
Some breweries offer seasonal berry beers.
Berries may be used to make kompot, a popular Russian drink.
Berries may be used to make kompot, a popular Russian drink.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

ZsaZsa56

A friend of mine is really into home beer making and he has done a couple of different varieties of berry beer. In general they have not been my favorites. They tend to be very sweet and are almost more like a wine than a beer. But he did make one batch of blueberry beer that was fantastic. I could drink a pint of that every day.

nextcorrea

Does anyone know where to buy beer that is made with a wide range of berries? Basically I am looking for some kind of berry beer emporium. I have had many different kinds of berry beers but they show up infrequently. I know that there are certain varieties of berry that I have never seen show up in a beer. They must be out there somewhere.

backdraft

Berry beer is one of my favorite beer styles. I had a strawberry beer just last weekend that was amazing.

I had never been a huge fan of beer until I tried berry beer. In fact, I kind of hated beer. I couldn't understand why so many people drank this foul odd tasting beverage. But the addition of a little fruit really elevates the natural flavor of the beer.

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