In his monthly column for the Times, Fuggles founder Alex Greig waxes lyrical about the ever-growing trend for fruity beers – which he says are just perfect to sip on in the sunshine…
The last few years have seen a few trends emerge in the world of craft beer here in the UK. Alongside heavily hopped, hazy pales and a rekindled love affair with lagers and traditional bitters, fruit and beer have become a big thing and in particular, fruited ‘sour’ beer.
You can see why as who doesn’t enjoy a fresh fruit juice or a smoothie? With additions such as mango, watermelon, cherry and orange, inspiration for the beers comes from all over, be it from classic cocktails through to your favourite dessert.
‘Fruity beers have become a big thing and opened up the market to new drinkers’
These beers are intentionally tart – thanks to yeast strains such as brettanomyces and bacteria like lactobacillus. Of course, the Belgians have been producing their famous ‘Lambic’ styles for over 100 years and the Germans too with the Berliner Weisse and Gose variations. And now, alongside those pioneers of the sour styles, we have some great UK producers too.
Over the past few years we’ve seen several breweries focus a large part of their production on these kinds of beers. It’s led to some exciting and fun experimentation and definitely opened up beer to a new market – be that cider drinkers looking for something different, or those who just love anything a bit tart whilst also helping convert people who don’t like ‘beer’. Here’s a few from our fridges that we just love here at Fuggles right now:
An all-time classic from the Boon Brewery, located in Lembeek on the River Senne to the South-West of Brussels. Boon have produced Lambic since 1978, a style of beer fermented with wild, naturally occurring yeasts, native to this region of Belgium (the only region you can legally brew and call a beer a ‘Lambic’). A blend of different ages of Lambic beer, it is then aged on whole cherries. This gives it a tart, yet sweet fruitiness with a delicious cherry flavour to it.
Gipsy Hill Tafa Tafa:
Gipsy Hill have always produced a great range of fruited sour beers and this is one of our ultimate favourites. Inspired by the classic Mai Tai, this is super juicy, sweet and sour thanks to fresh whole oranges and pineapple. Seriously tasty and the perfect summer refresher.
Yonder Watermelon Gose:
Based in Somerset, Yonder focus on producing a great range of beers using various mixed fermentation and barrel-aging techniques, fruit, and foraged ingredients. Their range of Gose-style beers are a firm favourite with us. Essentially this is a tart wheat beer and the lactobacillus helps to add acidity. Interestingly, the beer is also traditionally brewed with the subtle addition of salt as well. Yonder have found a wonderful balance with their base beer and regularly dose it with silly amounts of fruit, such as raspberry or watermelon. Super refreshing and light, with a touch of tangy natural yoghurt in the background too.
Tilquin have only recently started to brew their own. The bulk of their beer comes from other legendary producers of Lambic beer such as Lindemans. Brewer Pierre then blends these after years of aging in his own barrels to produce his own styles of ‘Gueuze’. This is a blend of aged Lambic with at least three different years in its makeup, producing a tart, but balanced beer somewhat akin to ‘proper’ farmhouse cider. Their range of fruited beers is second to none, my favourite being the stunning ‘Mure’. Blackberries provide a lovely fruity sweetness and depth to the beer, helping to really balance out the natural acidity.
Unbarred & Mash Gang – Mango Berliner:
Brighton’s Unbarred brewery have teamed up with the No/Low Alcohol folks at Mash Gang to bring us a lower ABV option that really delivers on the flavour thanks to a lot of Alphonso mangoes. Think breakfast smoothie with a bit of fizz and a lovely, fruity tartness to the finish.