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

Rodenbach Brewery Rodenbach Alexander
97 points
Dusty mahogany color. Savory, sour aromas of reduced lemon with balsamic, sour cherry kefir, and lettuce greens with pickled veggies and vinaigrette with a satiny, vibrant, finely carbonated, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a smooth, compelling, medium-long sourdough cherry toast with lemon-kiwi marmalade, marinated artichokes, nuts, and brandy barrels finish. A complex, delicious and flavor pack sour fruit beer that will rule at the table.
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.
Gaslight Brewery Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrel Aged Colossus Imperial Stout
94 points
Brown black color. Inviting aromas and flavors of caramelized fruits and nuts, vanilla tapioca with maple, chocolate molasses cake, and sherry-fig vinaigrette with a chewy, soft, petillant, off-dry full body and a warming, layered, long finish with suggestions of creme brulee, orange spice cake, and pink pepper on arugula finish. A wonderfully rich and warming Imperial stout with fine balance and flavor; will be great with desserts.
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.
August Schell Brewing Co. Funk Junction Peach Wild Ale
93 points
Murky light gold color. Fruity aromas of fresh crushed peaches and nut bread with a supple, tangy, effervescent, sweet-and-sour full body and a seamless, medium-long nectarine vinaigrette on romaine with croutons and Meyer lemon finish. A brilliant, tart and tangy wild ale with very pure peach flavor.
Indeed Brewing Co. Wooden Soul: In the Thicket Barrel-Aged Raspberry Golden Sour Ale
92 points
Pale minutely hazy ruby copper color. Sourish aromas and flavors of raspberry butter on sourdough and raspberry-lemon vinaigrette on mesclun with a satiny, tart, effervescent, sour medium-full body and a tingling, distinctive, long finish conveying touches of buttered toasted baguette, pickled red berries, mixed peppercorns, and smoked nuts finish. A great marriage of sour ale and fresh tart raspberries that whets the appetite.
Damm Brewery Daura Damm Crafted to Remove Gluten
90 points
Light gold color. Aromas and flavors of corn tortilla, herbed breakfast soufflé, lemon curd, hints of cocoa, and cream with a satiny, crisp, effervescent, dryish light body and a smooth, snappy finish. A crisp, easy-drinking Lager with a gluten-free bonus; drinks like any well-loved American Adjunct beer.