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HOW DO I KNOW WHEN TO ADD FRUIT PUREE TO BEER?

Written By Nick Burgoyne

This is a question we get from many customers; some are new to the industry; others are not but have limited experience with aseptic fruit purees. This is a blog for everyone in the community of Craft Beer Professionals.

Adding During Fermentation

For many brewers adding a modest amount of fruit purée during the tail end of fermentation and allowing it to ferment out completely is ideal, as it will not fundamentally change the flavor profile of the beverage you are making. The result is a product that has a dry or moderately dry finish with the only an essence of the fruit in the aroma and in the flavor. Levels will vary depending on how much you want the fruit in question to dominate the flavor and aroma, keeping the base (beer, mead, cider, etc.) in mind.

By adding a significant amount of purée, a brighter more intense fruit flavor will be achieved. In lower amounts alcohol pick up is not significant. Conversely, high amounts of puree can dilute your products alcohol by volume. These are key variables that should be considered during recipe formulation, especially if you are trying to hit a certain gravity. The purée will likely drop out with any yeast during the tail end of fermentation. Having an in-line strainer or series of strainers will catch any fruit that is left behind.

Adding Post-Fermentation

This is a process adopted by many because it is a quick and pretty easy way to deliver a more fruit forward or heavily fruited “smoothie” offering without using as much purée. The main drawback to this method is a product that is high in residual sweetness and is not shelf stable. Unlike the method mentioned previously, the shelf stability should be a consideration when using any kind of adjunct that contains fermentable sugar. This could fundamentally change the flavor profile or worst case -explode and injure someone.

Keeping all of this in mind, the only other option would be to add a stabilizer or pasteurize the product. This will add a bit of fruit character and not fundamentally change the product. If you are going for a highly fruited, sweet product, packaging in kegs is highly recommended without a pasteurizer. The trick is balancing the purée you are adding with the existing flavor profile of the beer, mead, cider etc. There could be some fruit that you can either filter out or will likely settle out in the keg. Another factor to give thought to when using large amounts of fruit purée and not allowing it to ferment out is the dilution factor. Dilution will drop the alcohol by volume and hide your base beer/mead/cider (unless this is the desired intention, in which case can be accommodated in the original recipe).

The science should not be understated but an artful execution is paramount, depending on your vision.