Fruit has as much a place in beer as hops

It can add tartness and acidity, or dryness, or – and this is where the controversy really rages – cloying sweetness

Three to try: Buxton Red Raspberry Rye, Sip Elgood's Coolship Fruit, Harviestoun Raspy Engine
Three to try: Buxton Red Raspberry Rye, Sip Elgood's Coolship Fruit, Harviestoun Raspy Engine

Fruit might seem pretty uncontroversial, but you'd be surprised. The more traditional drinker regards the use of it to brew beer as a ludicrous affectation, akin to sticking a cocktail umbrella in the head, or drinking a "beer cocktail". Others – who may be rather younger and less attached to the ways things were done in 1975 – are not bothered. If they like it, they'll drink it.

The latter group hold sway these days, and so fruit in beer is increasingly common. There's a growing number of India pale ales made with fruit, a trend that started in the US (don't they all?) and which has more than a little to do with the recent major hop shortage, and the resultant panic as brewers realised that they might not be able to get their paws on their favourite American hops.

A lot of new-world hops have huge fruit character, running the gamut from lemon to passionfruit and mango via the obligatory grapefruit – so fruit is an obvious replacement for hops. Interestingly, though, the results don't often taste like hops. Fruit can add tartness and acidity, or dryness, or – and this is where the controversy really rages – cloying sweetness.

The beauty of beer, of course, is that brewers can experiment with a wide palette of ingredients. Sometimes when fruit is used, the result is unpleasant; sometimes it's delicious, complex and refreshing in every sense of the word. Fruit has as much a place in beer as hops, and let's have no arguing about it. It's only fruit, after all.

THREE TO TRY

Slurp

Buxton Red Raspberry Rye (£3.50, 4.9%, eebria.com)

Spice, acidity and a delicate body make this wonderfully easy to drink

Sip

Sip Elgood's Coolship Fruit (£4.40 for 330ml, 5%, beermerchants.com)

This tart, hedgerow-inclined wild ale owes its elegance to blackberries and raspberries.

Share

Harviestoun Raspy Engine (£25 for 12x 330ml bottles, 5.3%, harviestoun.com)

Sharp Scottish raspberries provide a beautiful counterpoint to the beer's roasted coffee base

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