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.
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.
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.
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.
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.