Flavoured beer masterglass

Sourness may also have been the reason other Belgian beers are flavoured with fruits. The names kriek and framboise/frambozen are commonly bandied about by beer enthusiasts, referring to beers that are boosted with cherries and raspberries, respectively.

In the most authentic instances, the beers are partly fermented with these fruits, too, the additional sugar they provide helping to generate a secondary fermentation as the beer sits in casks or tanks at the brewery, ripening with age. These beers are naturally acidic and tart because of the infiltration of harmless bacteria as they mature, but the fruit notes provide a distraction and bring some sweetness. Fine examples include Liefmans Kriek Brut and Boon Kriek.

Fruit is also on the menu for producers elsewhere in the world, some using it to enhance the often-strident citrus notes of American hops. The award-winning Lemon Dream, for instance, from the Salopian Brewery in England, is a zesty golden ale that features organic lemons, while Ballast Point’s Grapefruit Sculpin from the US is an IPA with added grapefruit.

Some brewers use fruit to build on beer’s other inherent flavours. Charles Wells Banana Bread Beer has been around for more than a decade. The added bananas complement the toffee notes of the malt to create a banoffee pie effect. Both Stewart Brewing in Scotland and Maui in Hawaii produce coconut porters that are the liquid equivalent of a Bounty bar.

Honey is another long-serving brewing ingredient. Like fruit, it adds to the fermentability of the brew and brings its own flavours, especially if very floral honey, such as lavender or chestnut, is used. Honey also changes the texture of a beer, delivering a very soft mouthfeel, particularly on the swallow.

The Septem microbrewery in Greece produces an excellent honey ale called Sunday’s, while one of the most successful honey beers is Fuller’s Organic Honey Dew from London.

More recent additions to the brewer’s larder have been chocolate and coffee. When you consider just how much chocolate and coffee flavour some beers naturally present, because of the dark malts with which they are made, this is an obvious move, often resulting in a vanilla creaminess or a richer roasted character.

Pioneers in this field were London brewer Young’s with its sumptuous Double Chocolate Stout (now brewed by Charles Wells) and America’s Samuel Adams with its Chocolate Bock, which is aged on a bed of cocoa nibs. A newer, innovative take comes from Hogs Back, whose Montezuma’s Chocolate Lager is deceptively golden in colour. Founders Breakfast Stout from the US is just one of many noted coffee beers percolating today, or try Beer Geek Breakfast from Denmark’s Mikkeller brewery.


If you’re going to use coffee in a beer, why not tea as well? It won’t work in the same sort of dark, malty brew but there are beers to which it can add something special, particularly those that have a hop character that the tea can enhance.

England’s Marble Brewery does this rather well with its Earl Grey IPA. The brewers realised that some beers can have a tannin-like astringency, similar to that found in tea, and also that certain hops naturally have a tea-like flavour. Earl Grey tea is itself flavoured using bergamot, a variety of orange, so it has a delicate fruit note. When you marry this with the citrus accent of certain American hops, the result is both clever and convincing.