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

Goose Island Beer Co. Bourbon County Backyard Stout
97 points
A decadently delicious Bourbon and berry flavored Imperial Stout that is a pure pleasure to drink on its own and will be sensational with sweets.
Awards: 2024 World Beer Championships - Best Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
97 points $24.99
Fremont Brewing The Rusty Nail Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout
97 points
Rich and decadent, but with dark bittersweet chocolate on the palate supplying a pleasant dryness; the intoxicating aromas lead to a full, beautiful body and crisp finish.
Awards: 2023 World Beer Championships Platinum Medal - 2023 Best Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout - Best of Show
Fremont Brewing B-Bomb Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Winter Ale
96 points
A big and bold barrel-aged Stout with layer upon layer of deliciousness; rich and ponderous but not unrelenting.
Revolution Brewing Straight Jacket Bourbon Barrel-Aged Barleywine
96 points
Just about as delicious and well executed of a Bourbon barrel-aged Barleywine as one can hope to accomplish; will make the most ardent cellar stocker drool.
Awards: 2024 World Beer Championships - Best Barrel Aged Ale
Toppling Goliath Assassin Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
96 points
A spectacular barrel-aged Stout; delicious and luscious from end to end with a finish and retronasal for days.
Goose Island Beer Co. Bourbon County Stout
96 points
A world class Bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout that thoroughly pleases with a delightful combination of chocolatey malt and exotically fruity and spicy barrel flavors.
96 points $13.99
Fremont Brewing Bourbon Barrel-Aged Dark Star Imperial Oatmeal Stout
96 points
Rich cocoa nibs and sweet malt with notes of bourbon; a journey of a beer, and an excellent dessert pour.
Awards: 2023 World Beer Championships Gold Medal
Fremont Brewing 2021 Spice Wars Edition Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout
96 points
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
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
Ike & Oak Brewing Co. Kodiaks Revenge Coconut Macaroon Flavored Barrel-Aged Ale
95 points
A spectacular pastry Stout with Klondike Bar-like flavor and aroma; has a perfumed after-finish that lingers endlessly.