Fruit in Beer - 04/09/2020
Over the years we've tried quite a few different ways to get fruit flavor in beer (mainly because of our Raspberry Jalapeno).
Extracts - fake
Syrups - medicinal
Fresh Fruit - expensive
Frozen Fruit - not bad
Juiced Fruit - works well depending on the fruit
Purees - preferred method
All of these have pros and cons, but ultimately it depends on the flavor you are trying to achieve in your beer. The fresh and frozen fruit provide a subtle fruit flavor in our experience. However, our preference recently has been the use of purees. The nice thing about purees is that you can add enough to give a subtle flavor or you can add a ton and get the smoothie texture that is so popular now.
The key to any post fermentation is preventing the yeast from eating all of the flavor.
The technique that we have found works best is the following:
1) Add puree to carboy or secondary fermenter
2) Rack beer on top of puree
3) Gently stir to get the puree in suspension
4) Wait 6-24 hours and cold crash to stop/slow any fermention (some puree will settle at this time but the flavor will remain)
5) Move the beer to a keg after a day or two of cold crashing and carbonate
The key to this is keeping the beer cold. Without pasturization or filtration the yeast could restart if the conditions are right and either over carbonate your keg or blow up your cans or bottles.
In one of our recent beers, a Blackberry Crisp inspired kettle sour (pictured), we used this method and the flavor has been wonderful. Even after canning the beer has held its flavor.
Be sure to experiment and try out the methods listed above. You may find that the ease, price, and simplicity of extracts fits your tastes best, or that locally grown fresh fruit makes your beer taste just a little better. Experimenting with homebrew is one of the many reasons it's so much fun. Cheers!