“Do you have anything fruity?”
That’s a great question we hear at the Fireforge taproom all the time, and our menu always has a few options.
But did you know that a fruity beer doesn’t necessarily have fruit in it?
We do love to use fruit at Fireforge, especially local options like the Clemson peaches in Pool Honeys Milkshake IPA. Using fresh fruit has a host of challenges: fresh fruit is seasonal, so it may not be available year-round. Timing is important, and it takes a lot of effort to process all of the fruit once it achieves the right level of ripeness. There is also the risk of infecting the beer from the naturally occuring yeast that grows on the fruit.
It can take a lot of fruit to impart the right level of flavor in a beer. Also, fruits from different crops can have slight variations in flavor. Brewers have to keep a close eye on the beer to make sure the finished product comes out just right.
To get a fruit flavor with more consistency and control, many brewers purchase aseptic purees. Made with real fruits, aseptic purees are safe to add to beer without having to worry about ripeness and sanitization. One of our year-round beers, Vendetta Witbier, has a consistent blood orange flavor that comes from the puree we purchase from Oregon Fruit Products.
But we also have beers with prominent fruit flavors even though no fruit touches the beer. How is that possible?
Hops can add a distinct fruity flavor in lieu of real fruit. The best-selling Spirito Santo IPA’s citrus finish comes exclusively from hops—no orange squeezing or zesting required.
Yeast is another unique creator of fruity flavors, known as esters. Remember the banana finish on He Ain’t Hefe, He’s My Brother Hefeweizen? We didn’t toss a bundle of bananas in the fermenter! Instead, we brewed with a specific strain of yeast that creates banana-like flavor and aroma to give that hefeweizen its signature character.
Brewing is a complex process that imparts a unique range of flavors from unlikely sources, and we’ll explore more of those in later blog posts. One important takeaway from this lesson: sometimes fruity beers get a bad rep for being “girly” or not cool enough compared to a dank, 100 IBU DIPA. But a brewer worked hard to create each tasty beverage on our menu, and we encourage you to drink anything you enjoy—fruity or not fruity.
If you’re curious about how your favorite flavors came to be in your Fireforge beer, our staff is always happy to answer your questions.