Craft Beer Trends: Getting Fruity

These trendy new beer flavors may be the key to improving your bottom line.
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The popularity of craft beer is on the upswing. Try serving up the latest trend: fruit-based brews. (Photo: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock)

Craft beer has shown significant growth in popularity in recent years, and the latest trend in this market is the addition of fruits and fruit flavors to the mix. Research from Mintel indicates that one in 10 global beer launches over the past five years contained fruit flavors. In fact, in the first half of 2017 alone, 16 percent of U.S. beer launches were fruit flavored, double that of 2014.

As a bar or restaurant owner, you know that stocking the right drink selection can directly impact your bottom line. So how do you know which flavors will be popular with your clientele? If you’re debating introducing fruity craft beers to your menu, this info will help you decide if it’s a wise trend to tap into — or not.

Related: Craft Beer and Beyond: New Artisanal Beverage Trends to Watch

So why the fruit-beer craze? According to Mintel’s report, “Craft beers often feature more bitter and complex flavors, which leaves a gap in the market for mainstream brewers to exploit, using sweeter, more accessible fruit flavors.”

Ken Weaver, beer editor at All About Beer Magazine, echoed this sentiment: “Fruit-focused beers have been on the upswing for a while now, and it seems to be for a number of reasons. There’s the fact that consumers readily recognize and respond to these flavor profiles, more so than specific hop varieties, for example. And as craft beer’s consumer base broadens, that becomes increasingly true.”

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“Fruit-focused beers have been on the upswing for a while now.” -Ken Weaver (Photo: Ken Weaver)

To make their beer more “fruity,” brewers are adding fruit juice, extracts, purees or even whole fruit to their recipes, using flavors such as cherry, raspberry, orange, lemon, mango and papaya. Mintel estimates U.S. consumers aged 21 to 34 are more likely to purchase fruit-flavored beer than regular beer varieties — and craft brewers have been especially active in catering to this interest.

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If you’re a bar owner considering adding these types of beers to your menu, Weaver offered a piece of advice. First, he said, “whole fruit additions are (in my experience) often more appealing than citrus-powder additions.” Secondly, he warned that long-time beer drinkers may find fruity IPAs a disappointment, because they “fail to deliver on the IPA part of the equation.”

“I draw very few stylistic lines,” he said, “but an IPA that doesn’t deliver on hop presence — bitterness, flavor and/or aroma — tends to be a pretty disappointing pint for me, regardless of what magical fruit one adds. That said, much of this goes back to understanding one’s own audience.”

While fruit-beer options can appeal to those who do not enjoy the taste of traditional beers, Weaver cautioned bar owners to “be wary of hopping on any newer trends without keeping their existing core audience and operational realities in mind.” He advised to keep a well-rounded selection of beers “in tandem with whatever happens to be trending in the millennial demographic.”

Related: How to Build a Craft Beer Menu that Sells

He added that “stocking fruit-focused beers with modest bitterness along with other options allows a knowledgeable service staff to help guide the drinker into what he or she is looking for, and to better tune one’s beer selections in the future. This can go a long way to expanding one’s [customer] base.”

 

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