About Fruit and Specialty Beers

The specialty beer category includes some of the more unique and individualized styles. Many of these beers either do not have a clearly defined style guideline or do not fit under the umbrella of another category. Smoked malts and wild yeasts can drastically alter any beer's flavor profile, adding another dimension and layer of complexity for a brewer. Steeped in centuries of brewing history, styles such as rauchbier and lambic continue to be some of the more revered and sought after beers for consumers. Both styles exhibit a flavor profile that may not be for everyone, yet have very clear and devoted followings.

This category also includes barrel and wood-aged beers. Although the bourbon barrel continues to be the most popular, brewers have pushed this category far beyond bourbon barrel aged stouts, experimenting by aging any style from pilsner to Belgian-style quad, in any barrel they can get their hands on. Fruit flavored beer is another anchor of this category. Whole fruit or fruit juice may be added at multiple points during the brewing process with varying impact on the final beer. Regardless of how fruit is utilized by the brewer, the resulting beer should always preserve a balance between the added fruit and base beer style. This category also includes a wide range of hybrid styles, beers brewed from specialty yeast and malts and gluten-free ales and lagers.

Top Picks for Fruit and Specialty Beers

Tarpon River Brewing Honey Love Honey Beer
95 points
Light gold color. Aromas and flavors of honeycomb on fresh biscuits, crisp apples, wildberry jam, and dried apricot with a round, vibrant, effervescent, fruity light-to-medium body and a silky, compelling, medium-length finish with suggestions of milk toast and candied orange peel finish. A delicious and desirable honey beer that drinks like a fine, warming Belgian golden ale.
Argus Brewery Golden Prairie Honey Ginger Beer
94 points
Pale clear light gold color. Aromas of plantain, vanilla bean, saltine cracker, and lavender with a silky, spritzy, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a seamless, captivating, brisk candied lemon peel, sesame, candied ginger, and coconut flake finish. A snappy, tasty ginger flavored beer that will be versatile.
New Holland Brewing Co. Dragons Milk Stout
94 points
Dark brown color. Aromas of vanilla fondant, praline, almond croissant, and bit-o-honey with a velvety, crisp, spritzy, sweet full body and a warming, subtle, medium-long cherry flesh and stone, toasted banana bread, sweet corn cakes with black pepper, and bourbon finish. A mellow, creamy Barrel Aged Imperial Stout that is super drinkable; an excellent winter warmer.
Revolution Brewing Straight Jacket Barrel-Aged Barleywine
94 points
Reddish mahogany color. Aromas and flavors of raisins in caramel, butterscotch, candied yams, molasses cookie, coffee liqueur, and chocolate bundt cake with a satiny, crisp, petillant, fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, engaging, medium-long finish with notes of candied orange peel, carob, and marzipan finish. A complex and balanced barrel-aged ale that offers port-like fruit and a whiskey-like brawn; luxurious.
Damm Brewery Daura Märzen Double Malt Gluten Free
93 points
$0
Amber color. Aromas of toasted pineapple bread, hints of coconut, and seedy bread with a slightly chewy, crisp, effervescent, dryish medium body and a seamless, interesting, medium-length snappy rapini finish. An estery, chewy, full-flavored Gluten-Free Lager to be enjoyed by all, not just those avoiding gluten.
Ahnapee Brewery Cherry Wood Aged Baltic Porter
93 points
Ebony color. Smoky aromas of smoking autumn leaves, carob, spruce, dried fig, coconut, and spiced apples with a velvety, crisp, finely carbonated, fruity medium body and a warming, elegant, long dark chocolate bread pudding, honey gelato, rosemary, peanuts in caramel, and toffee finish. A toasty, slightly smoky ale that with big character and appeal.
Damm Brewery Daura Damm Gluten Free Lager
90 points
$0
Pale golden amber color. Aromas and flavors of fresh crumpets, cultured butter, marmalade, and banana with a satiny, crisp, light-to-medium body and a seamless, interesting, medium-length finish displaying accents of spearmint. A chewy and satisfying Gluten-Free Lager with great finish and body.
Wayne Gretzky Premium Rye Lager
90 points
$0
Light gold color. Aromas and flavors of praline, ham frittata, and oat cereal with a supple, crisp, finely carbonated, dryish medium-to-full body and a tingling, intriguing, medium-long finish with notes of zucchini-coconut bread, pretzel roll, and cashew. A complex and finely balanced Lager that will cover a lot of bases.
Burleigh Brewing Co. Burleigh Smokin Lager
90 points
Walnut color. Aromas of smoked walnuts, dark chocolate, artisan banana loaf, black licorice, and autumn leaves with a velvety, vibrant, effervescent, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a tingling, complex, medium-long luxury cigarettes and chocolate mousse finish. A dense but finely balanced Rauchbier with delicate smoky notes and decadent flavors of roasty malt.
Revelation Craft Brewing Co-Conspirator Apricot Sour Ale
90 points
Hazy light gold color. Aromas of dried peach and apricot, grain husks, and dried pineapple with a satiny, tart, petillant, fruity light-to-medium body and a nuanced, medium-long corn masa, birch water, and toasted baguette finish. A nice evolving palate makes one beg for another sip of this interesting fruited sour.