While it’s true that many serious beer lovers and connoisseurs of beer dispensing systems will clutch their sides with laughter when the term “fruit beer” is mentioned, in fact, it’s a subject that’s worth taking seriously.
Nobody can really say where fruit beers came from or how long they have been around.
They are most traditionally associated with Belgium and they have a verifiable history going back into the 18th century. In all probability, they predate that by a long time too.
Brewers in the middle ages tended to use an awful lot of fresh hops. There’s nothing wrong with that but it probably gave the beer a quite bitter taste.
As we outlined in an earlier blog, beer at the time was the main drink of just about everybody in society, including young children. It was safer than water.
So, it seems likely that for centuries people had added a little sweetener of one sort or another to make the crude taste of the beer a little more palatable – particularly for the young.
What is clear is that by the late 18th and early 19th century, fruit beers in Belgium were an established tradition.
The 20th century developments
It’s not entirely clear either quite when fruit beer consumption burst out of Belgium into the wider world. Certainly many people have no recollection of seeing or hearing anything about fruit beer much before the 1980s or 1990s.
So in that sense, it’s a relatively new arrival and became almost immediately controversial with traditional beer drinkers. Some saw and continue to see it as gimmickry and just another way of adding alcohol to a sort of “pop drink”.
However, nobody can really dispute that these beers have grown in popularity even though they continue to be a relatively modest part of Aussie beer drinking preferences.
What do you think?
As always in these things, we are inclined to stay neutral!
It’s possibly worth pointing out here that fruit beers aren’t quite as absurd an idea as they might seem to some seasoned veterans. After all, many accept that a dash of lemon in lager-type beers or a bit of lime in some of the Spanish/Mexican beers is perfectly acceptable and adds a new taste dimension.
On that basis, if someone really likes raspberries or strawberries in their beer, who is to say that they are wrong?
No doubt the debate will continue!