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Fruit additions

So I recently visited a local home brew store. I started talking to the guys there about adding some fruit to my brews. I am brewing a Golden and want to add some blood orange and maybe a little passion fruit (trying to finally make a beer my wife will like). My thoughts were passion fruit seeds and some blood orange purée, both during secondary fermentation.

The guys there suggested maybe using the brewers best extracts, due to their ease. I guess it would be easy to slowly add the extract right before bottling, little bit at a time until I like the taste.

I then thought, maybe I’d do both? I know purées can be a little expensive, but I don’t care. I can add blood orange purée and passion seeds during secondary, then if the flavors aren’t enough I can add extract.

Has anyone had experience with the extracts? Any good stories? Or are they basically… crap? I’m sure moderation would be key, but if they never taste right, I don’t want to waste the effort. Thoughts?

I think you have to imagine what the fruit tastes like without any sugar, then balance that with just the right amount and type of hop, keep it simple hop wise and dial back the IBUs. Then really concentrate on what the yeast profile will be. Since it will be tart (minus the sugar) the nose needs to be there as well.

It is my opinion that few do it as well as Grimm.

You will see a bit of lactose (milk sugar) in a few of their beers to bring back the sweetness.

To answer your question I would add a min of 2 lbs of blood orange, an oz of hibiscus (for color and nose) and a 1/2 lb of lactose to sweeten it. But my wife hates sweet things so maybe that’s bad advice.

I very much appreciate the feedback, I will check those out…but I am still left with my initial question. I don’t mind using purees, but is there any reason to use… or avoid… extracts?

If they work fine, it’d save time and effort and money. If they suck, then it would ruin my beer and/or I would be stuck without any fruit flavors.

There’s no reason not to use an extract. Olive Nation has great quality extracts:

I think the extracts last longer flavor wise. However they do not seem to be a complete round flavor and bad extracts have a medicinal quality.

Thanks everyone. 3 final questions:

  1. is the Brewers Best a decent brand of extracts, or should I avoid those?

  2. when should I add the extracts? And when to add lactose? I know to boil then cool the lactose, and then I was thinking either during secondary or right before bottling for both.

  3. in terms of “how much to add”… should I just basically add a little bit of extracts and lactose, swirl it around, then take a small sample for tasting… then just add more if I want more? I’m ok with that, it feels like a little kids chemistry set, but if there’s a better method than “guess and check”, I’m all for it

Add extracts at bottling time. It’s easiest if you have a bottling bucket. Add a bit stir with bottling wand, sample add more if you want. Typically lactose is added during the making of the wort. But because it is an unfermentable I think you can add this at bottling to taste as well. Unless you are using Brett because it will eat this and explode your bottles.

I haven’t used Brewer’s best. I use Nielsen-Massey which you can get at any grocery around here.
I added a single cap at bottling and it balanced some zest out I did at hop-stand. If I had added anymore than that cap I don’t know if I could have drunk it.

I’ve used the LDCarlson extracts- their Cherry and their Apricot.
IMO, the cherry was pretty bad- cherry cough drop flavor. However the Apricot was great- flavor profile right on. I use 1oz. per gallon at bottling time.

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@jimrmaine , what kind of brew did you use the apricot in?

EDIT (I’m wondering about an apricot saison)

Should I worry about adding some dry hops to help battle the extra fruit flavors? I was debating adding some during secondary a few weeks before bottling (since I’m going to add the lactose and extracts right before bottling)

Ive had the exact same experience. Apricot was great in a wheat beer.



Don’t shy away from using real fruit. The sugar will ferment out but you can dose back with the extract to taste. This will give you a more round flavor profile.

If it were me I would use the lactose during the boil and use real fruit in secondary. When packaging dose four 2oz samples with a known amount of extract. This will help you scale the extract to your liking without having to dose the lactose. I think trying to dose both lactose and extract would be challenging.

I have used both and the extract is ok. I think it depends on what you are looking for. The real fruit is more subtle, not so in your face and overpowering in my experience. The extract is more overwhelming and as someone else stated can sometimes have a medicinal taste. You just have to decide what outcome you are looking for, or split the batch and try both.

Yea I was thinking using purée and seeds of passion fruit in the secondsry then using a little extract at bottling. I think I’d prefer the flavors to be more pronounced… again this is a beer more for my wife than it is me. But the purée would be a much better base in my opinion.

I think the lactose will be important to prevent the beer from turning sour or tart. Blood orange beers usually turn out very tart in my experience, and I think I’d rather come closer to a shandy than a sour (I personally hate sour beer, and even though it’s for my wife I’d still like to have some). Plus a creamy Golden has an appeal to me… it makes for a much more interesting beer

You should start experimenting with different yeast strains as well. You can get a lot of “fruit” with no fruit at all by just picking your yeast and paying close attention to temperatures. Esters from yeast should be one of your main focuses IMO.

Do you have a recommended yeast strain? I admit, the two places I have the least experience are yeast selection and hop selection. I normally just pick the “standard” for whatever style beer I am brewing.

Again, it’s a golden, it will be a little strong so I’m using a starter… hoping for something a little sweet, a little fruity

A sweet fruity yeast might be something like London Ale III.

Weihenstephan Weizen gives off amazing banana and clove characteristics

I just used Saison blend II from The Yeast Bay and love its profile with fruit.

What temperature control method do you have in place?

I actually have a good piece of fortune with temperature. We brew in my basement, and I monitor the temperature. In a dark room in the basement, it stays between 62-65 at all times in the summer. I never had to buy anything for temperature control thanks to that. I will look into those yeast strains, I know a lot about the Weihenstephan due to their beer and talking to their advocates, but never used their yeast… don’t think it fits here though. More of a Belgian style.

Still not sure about the possible need for extra hops though. I don’t want this to get outta control with fruit, and ive always heard about needing more hops to balance. If you couldn’t tell, this is my first true fruit brew

There are plenty of Belgian strains of yeast. Here’s Wyeast’s take on fruit beers.

I’m a fan of Lambic blends but it appears you are staying away from sour.
Lots of descriptors here…

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