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

Fremont Brewing Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star Imperial Oatmeal Stout
97 points
Ebony color. Aromas and flavors of grilled black bread, ganache, chocolate covered pecans, and hints of soy with a round, vibrant, finely carbonated, off-dry full body and a warming, complex, very long finish revealing suggestions of toasty waffle and white pepper. Great flavor integration and length; drink this.
Awards: 2022 World Beer Championships Platinum Medal - Best Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
Fremont Brewing 2021 Spice Wars Edition Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout
96 points
Ebony color. Aromas and flavors of artisan licorice, black tea, fine dark chocolate, candied ginger, lemon peel, cardamom, and bananas flambé with a velvety, lively, finely carbonated, off-dry medium-to-full body and a warming, elaborate, very long finish with notes of chocolate-covered espresso bean and raisin. A colossal, velvety Barrel Aged Imperial Stout for palate pampering.
Awards: 2022 World Beer Championships Gold Medal
Fremont Brewing 2020 B-Bomb Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Winter Ale
96 points
Dark brown color. Aromas and flavors of caramel, toasted panettone, dried figs, sticky date pudding, and hints of turmeric with a round, vibrant, finely carbonated, off-dry full body and a warming, elaborate, very long finish that shows touches of coconut. Finesse and elegance. Try this Wood Aged Ale with exceptional integration of oak and malt.
Awards: 2022 World Beer Championships Platinum Medal - Best Wood Aged Ale
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.
Tsingtao Brewing Co. Alcohol Free Lager
94 points
Yellow straw color. Aromas of white corn and hints of herbs with a supple, bright, finely carbonated, dryish thin body and a seamless, brisk lemon-ginger tea and croissant finish. A rock-solid N/A Beer that delivers the crisp clean flavor of your favorite everyday lager.
Awards: 2022 World Beer Championships Gold Medal - Best Non Alcoholic Beer
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.
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.
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.