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ABV Changes When You Add Fruit

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Most people believe that when you add fruit to fermenting wort, the ABV of the resulting beer will dramatically increase due to the amount of sugar added with the fruit. Well, that is probably not going to be what happens. The problem with above logic is that they are considering the amount of sugar added with the fruit but they are disregarding the amount of water in the fruit.

So how do you calculate the ABV change when you add fruit to wort?

You will need 4 pieces of information:

1. The weight of the fruit you are adding.
This weight should exclude pits, seeds, stems, etc. Of course this will no be a perfect weight because there may still be things like pulp that cannot be removed but generally the weight is very low compared to the total weight of the fruit added.

2. The Brix of the fruit. The easiest way to get this is with a refractometer but if you don’t have one of those then you may be able to get the info off of the label of the container. Or as a last resort fine the percentage of sugar in the fruit via a Google search. This will probably be pretty close but an actual measurement is definitely better.

3. The OG of the beer you are adding the fruit to. This is the ORIGINAL GRAVITY and NOT the current gravity.

4. The weight of the beer. Granted, you probably didn’t weigh the beer when you pitched the yeast but you can still get the figure if you know how many gallons of wort you started with.
The weight of the beer can be calculated this way:
OG * Volume * weight of a gallon of water (8.36 pounds)
So if I started with 5.5 gallons of 1.055 wort then the weight would be 1.055 * 5.5 *8.36 = 54.8 pounds

Once you gather the above information you use this formula to calculate the ABV change:

(Weight of the beer from #4 * Brix/Plato of the beer + weight of the fruit addition * Brix/Pato of the fruit / Weight of the beer + weight of the fruit addition)

To keep you from having to look up the Brix if you don’t have a refractometer just use the following table

Specific
Gravity Brix
0.990 0.00
0.991 0.00
0.992 0.00
0.993 0.00
0.994 0.00
0.995 0.00
0.996 0.00
0.997 0.00
0.998 0.00
0.999 0.00
1.000 0.00
1.001 0.26
1.002 0.51
1.003 0.77
1.004 1.03
1.005 1.28
1.006 1.54
1.007 1.80
1.008 2.05
1.009 2.31
1.010 2.56
1.011 2.81
1.012 3.07
1.013 3.32
1.014 3.57
1.015 3.82
1.016 4.08
1.017 4.33
1.018 4.58
1.019 4.83
1.020 5.08
1.021 5.33
1.022 5.57
1.023 5.82
1.024 6.07
1.025 6.32
1.026 6.57
1.027 6.81
1.028 7.06
1.029 7.30
1.030 7.55
1.031 7.80
1.032 8.04
1.033 8.28
1.034 8.53
1.035 8.77
1.036 9.01
1.037 9.26
1.038 9.50
1.039 9.74
1.040 9.98
1.041 10.22
1.042 10.46
1.043 10.70
1.044 10.94
1.045 11.18
1.046 11.42
1.047 11.66
1.048 11.90
1.049 12.14
1.050 12.37
1.051 12.61
1.052 12.85
1.053 13.08
1.054 13.32
1.055 13.55
1.056 13.79
1.057 14.02
1.058 14.26
1.059 14.49
1.060 14.72
1.061 14.96
1.062 15.19
1.063 15.42
1.064 15.65
1.065 15.88
1.066 16.11
1.067 16.34
1.068 16.57
1.069 16.80
1.070 17.03
1.071 17.26
1.072 17.49
1.073 17.72
1.074 17.95
1.075 18.18
1.076 18.40
1.077 18.63
1.078 18.86
1.079 19.08
1.080 19.31
1.081 19.53
1.082 19.76
1.083 19.98
1.084 20.21
1.085 20.43
1.086 20.65
1.087 20.88
1.088 21.10
1.089 21.32
1.090 21.54
1.091 21.77
1.092 21.99
1.093 22.21
1.094 22.43
1.095 22.65
1.096 22.87
1.097 23.09
1.098 23.31
1.099 23.53
1.100 23.75
1.101 23.96
1.102 24.18
1.103 24.40
1.104 24.62
1.105 24.83
1.106 25.05
1.107 25.27
1.108 25.48
1.109 25.70
1.110 25.91
1.111 26.13
1.112 26.34
1.113 26.56
1.114 26.77
1.115 26.98
1.116 27.20
1.117 27.41
1.118 27.62
1.119 27.83
1.120 28.05
1.121 28.26
1.122 28.47
1.123 28.68
1.124 28.89
1.125 29.10
1.126 29.31
1.127 29.52
1.128 29.73
1.129 29.94
1.130 30.15

The Brix of various of fruits.

Apple 13.3
Apricot 14.3
Black currant 15.0
Blackberry 10.0
Black raspberry 11.1
Blueberry 14.1
Boysenberry 10.0
Carob 40.0
Cherry 14.3
Cranberry 10.5
Date 18.5
Dewberry 10.0
Elderberry 11.0
Fig 18.2
Gooseberry 8.3
Grapefruit 10.2
Guava 7.7
Lemon 8.9
Lime 10.0
Loganberry 10.5
Mango 17.0
Naranjilla 10.5
Orange 11.8
Papaya 10.2
Passion Fruit 15.3
Peach 11.8
Pear 15.4
Pineapple 14.3
Plum 14.3
Pomegranate 18.2
Prune 18.5
Quince 13.3
Raisin 18.5
Raspberry 10.5
Red currant 10.5
Strawberry 8.0
Tangerine 11.5

Example:

Lets say I started with 5.5 gallons of 1.055 wort (13.55 brix using the above chart). I am adding 10 pounds of raspberries (10.5 brix) to the wort (using the other above chart).

1. Weight of the fruit = 10 pounds
2. Brix of the fruit = 10.5
3. OG of the wort = 1.055
4. Weight of the beer = 48.5 pounds (1.055 * 5.5 * 8.36)

So the formula works out to: ((48.5 * 13.55) + (10 * 10.5))/ (48.5 + 10)

(657.175 + 105) / 58.5 = 13.03 Brix.

13.03 Brix is ~1.053 so adding the fruit LOWERED the OG by .0002 points.

So what happens if we use the above numbers but start with an OG of 1.050?

1. Weight of the fruit = 10 pounds
2. Brix of the fruit = 10.5
3. OG of the wort = 1.050
4. Weight of the beer = 48.28 pounds (1.050 * 5.5 * 8.36)

So the formula works out to: ((48.28 * 12.37) + (10 * 10.5))/ (48.5 + 10)

(597.22 + 105) / 58.5 = 12.0 Brix which is about 1.048. So it lowered the OG by .007 points

So what happend if we add a fruit with a lot of sugar in it like figs? Side note, I have me a beer using a fig addition and it’s awesome!

Same as the first example but the Brix of the fruit is 18.2.

1. Weight of the fruit = 10 pounds
2. Brix of the fruit = 18.5
3. OG of the wort = 1.055, Brix is 13.55
4. Weight of the beer = 48.5 pounds (1.055 * 5.5 * 8.36)

So the formula works out to: ((48.5 * 13.55) + (10 * 18.5))/ (48.5 + 10)

(657.175 + 185) / 58.5 = 14.4 Brix or about 1.059 OG. So the figs increased the OG about 4 points.

As a general rule the addition of fruit will not have a significant affect on the gravity of the wort so the ABV is usually not that much different with or without the fruit addition.

Specialty Fruit Beer

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29C. Specialty Fruit Beer
A Specialty Fruit Beer is a fruit beer with some additional ingredients or processes, such as fermentable sugars (honey, brown sugar, invert sugar, etc.) added.
See the Introduction to Specialty-Type Beer section for additional comments, particularly on evaluating the balance of added ingredients with the base beer.
Overall Impression: A harmonious marriage of fruit, sugar, and beer, but still recognizable as a beer. The fruit and sugar character should both be evident but in balance with the beer, not so forward as to suggest an artificial product.
Aroma: Same as fruit beer, except that some additional fermentables (honey, molasses, etc.) may add an aroma component. Whatever additional aroma component is present should be in balance with the fruit and the beer components, and be a pleasant combination.
Appearance Same as fruit beer.
Flavor: Same as fruit beer, except that some additional fermentables (honey, molasses, etc.) may add a flavor component. Whatever additional flavor component is present should be in balance with the fruit and the beer components, and be a pleasant combination. Added sugars should not have a raw, unfermented flavor. Some added sugars will have unfermentable elements that may provide a fuller finish; fully fermentable sugars may thin out the finish.
Mouthfeel: Same as fruit beer, although depending on the type of sugar added, could increase or decrease the body.
Comments: If the additional fermentables or processes do not add a distinguishable character to the beer, enter it as a normal 29A Fruit Beer and omit a description of the extra ingredients or processes.
Entry Instructions: The entrant must specify a base style; the declared style does not have to be a Classic Style. The entrant must specify the type of fruit used. The entrant must specify the type of additional fermentable sugar or special process employed.
Vital Statistics: OG, FG, IBUs, SRM and ABV will vary depending on the underlying base beer, but the fruit will often be reflected in the color.
Commercial Examples: New Planet Raspberry Ale

Fruit and Spice Beer

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29B. Fruit and Spice Beer

See the Introduction to Specialty-Type Beer section for additional comments, particularly on evaluating the balance of added ingredients with the base beer. The definition of Fruit in the preamble to Category 29 and Spice in the preamble to Category 30 apply; any combination of ingredients valid in Styles 29A and 30A are allowable in this category. The use of the word spice does not imply only spices can be used; any Spice, Herb, or Vegetable (SHV) from Category 30 may be used.

Overall Impression:
A harmonious marriage of fruit, spice, and beer, but still recognizable as a beer. The fruit and spice character should each be evident but in balance with the beer, not so forward as to suggest an artificial product.

Aroma:
The distinctive aromatics associated with the declared fruit and spices should be noticeable in the aroma; however, note that some fruit (e.g., raspberries, cherries) and some spices (e.g., cinnamon, ginger) have stronger aromas and are more distinctive than others (e.g., blueberries, strawberries) – allow for a range of fruit and spice character and intensity from subtle to aggressive. The additional aromatics should blend well with whatever aromatics are appropriate for the declared base beer style. The hop aroma may be absent or balanced, depending on the declared base style.

Appearance:
Appearance should be appropriate for the declared base beer and declared fruit and spices. For lighter-colored beers with fruits or spices that exhibit distinctive colors, the color should be noticeable. Note that the color of fruit in beer is often lighter than the flesh of the fruit itself and may take on slightly different shades. May have some haze or be clear, although haze is a generally undesirable. The head may take on some of the color of the fruit or spice.

Flavor:
As with aroma, the distinctive flavor character associated with the declared fruits and spices should be noticeable, and may range in intensity from subtle to aggressive. The balance of fruit and spices with the underlying beer is vital, and the fruit character should not be so artificial and/or inappropriately overpowering as to suggest a spiced fruit juice drink. Hop bitterness, flavor, malt flavors, alcohol content, and fermentation by-products, such as esters, should be appropriate to the base beer and be harmonious and balanced with the distinctive fruit and spice flavors present. Remember that fruit generally add flavor not sweetness. The sugar found in fruit is usually fully fermented and contributes to lighter flavors and a drier finish than might be expected for the declared base style. However, residual sweetness is not necessarily a negative characteristic unless it has a raw, unfermented quality. Some SHV(s) are inherently bitter and may result in a beer more bitter than the declared base style.

Mouthfeel:
Mouthfeel may vary depending on the base beer selected and as appropriate to that base beer. Body and carbonation levels should be appropriate to the declared base beer style. Fruit generally adds fermentables that tend to thin out the beer; the resulting beer may seem lighter than expected for the declared base style. Some SHV(s) may add additional body, although fermentable additions may thin out the beer. Some SHV(s) may add a bit of astringency, although a “raw” spice character is undesirable.

Comments:
Overall balance is the key to presenting a well-made fruit and spice beer. The fruit and spice should each complement the original style and not overwhelm it. The key attributes of the underlying style will be different with the addition of fruit and spice; do not expect the base beer to taste the same as the unadulterated version. Judge the beer based on the pleasantness and balance of the resulting combination. The brewer should recognize that some combinations of base beer styles and fruits/spices work well together while others do not make for harmonious combinations. Whenever fruits, spices, herbs or vegetables are declared, each should be noticeable and distinctive in its own way (although not necessarily individually identifiable; balanced with the other ingredients is still critical) – in other words, the beer should read as a spiced fruit beer but without having to tell that specific fruits and spices are present (even if declared).

Fruit Beer

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29A. Fruit Beer

See the Introduction to Specialty-Type Beer section for additional comments, particularly on evaluating the balance of added ingredients with the base beer.

Overall Impression:
A harmonious marriage of fruit and beer, but still recognizable as a beer. The fruit character should be evident but in balance with the beer, not so forward as to suggest an artificial product.

Aroma:
The distinctive aromatics associated with the declared fruit should be noticeable in the aroma; however, note that some fruit (e.g., raspberries, cherries) have stronger aromas and are more distinctive than others (e.g., blueberries, strawberries) – allow for a range of fruit character and intensity from subtle to aggressive. The additional aromatics should blend well with whatever aromatics are appropriate for the declared base beer style.

Appearance:
Appearance should be appropriate for the declared base beer and declared fruit. For lighter-colored beers with fruits that exhibit distinctive colors, the color should be noticeable. Note that the color of fruit in beer is often lighter than the flesh of the fruit itself and may take on slightly different shades. Fruit beers may have some haze or be clear, although haze is a generally undesirable. The head may take on some of the color of the fruit.

Flavor:
As with aroma, the distinctive flavor character associated with the declared fruit should be noticeable, and may range in intensity from subtle to aggressive. The balance of fruit with the underlying beer is vital, and the fruit character should not be so artificial and/or inappropriately overpowering as to suggest a ‘fruit juice drink.’ Hop bitterness, flavor, malt flavors, alcohol content, and fermentation by-products, such as esters, should be appropriate to the base beer and be harmonious and balanced with the distinctive fruit flavors present. Remember that fruit generally add flavor not sweetness to fruit beers. The sugar found in fruit is usually fully fermented and contributes to lighter flavors and a drier finish than might be expected for the declared base style. However, residual sweetness is not necessarily a negative characteristic unless it has a raw, unfermented quality.

Mouthfeel:
Mouthfeel may vary depending on the base beer selected and as appropriate to that base beer. Body and carbonation levels should be appropriate to the declared base beer style. Fruit generally adds fermentables that tend to thin out the beer; the resulting beer may seem lighter than expected for the declared base style. Smaller and darker fruit have a tendency to add a tannic depth that should overwhelm the base beer.

Comments:
Overall balance is the key to presenting a well-made fruit beer. The fruit should complement the original style and not overwhelm it. The key attributes of the underlying style will be different with the addition of fruit; do not expect the base beer to taste the same as the unadulterated version. Judge the beer based on the pleasantness and balance of the resulting combination.

Vital Statistics:
OG, FG, IBUs, SRM and ABV will vary depending on the underlying base beer, but the fruit will often be reflected in the color.

Commercial Examples:
Bell’s Cherry Stout, Dogfish Head Aprihop, Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale, Founders Rübæus

Wild Specialty Beer

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28C. Wild Specialty Beer

Overall Impression:
A sour and/or funky version of a fruit, herb, or spice beer, or a wild beer aged in wood. If wood-aged, the wood should not be the primary or dominant character.

Aroma:
Variable by base style. Should show the fruit, sour and/or funk of a wild fermentation, as well as the characteristics of the special ingredients used. The best examples will blend the aromatics from the fermentation with the special ingredients, creating an aroma that may be difficult to attribute precisely.

Appearance:
Variable by base style, generally showing a color, tint, or hue from any fruit (if used) in both the beer and the head. Clarity can be variable; some haze is not a fault. Head retention is often poor.

Flavor:
Variable by base style. Should show the fruit, sour and/or funk of a wild fermentation, as well as the characteristics of the special ingredients used. Any fruit sweetness is generally gone, so only the esters typically remain from the fruit. The sour character from the fruit and wild fermentation could be prominent, but should not be overwhelming. The acidity and tannin from any fruit can both enhance the dryness of the beer, so care must be taken with the balance. The acidity should enhance the perception of the fruit flavor, not detract from it. Wood notes, if present, add flavor but should be balanced.

Mouthfeel:
Variable by base style. Generally a light body, lighter than what might be expected from the base style. Generally moderate to high carbonation; carbonation should balance the base style if one is declared. The presence of tannin from some fruit or wood can provide a slight astringency, enhance the body, or make the beer seem drier than it is.

Comments:
A wild beer featuring fruit, herbs, spices, or wood based on a style other than lambic. Could be another Classic Style (normally sour or not), or something more generic. These beers may be aged in wood, but any wood character should not be a primary or dominant flavor.

History:
Modern American craft beer interpretations of Belgian wild ales, or experimentations inspired by Belgian wild ales.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Virtually any style of beer. Any combination of Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, or other similar fermenters. Can also be a blend of styles. While cherries, raspberries, and peaches are most common, other fruits can be used as well. Vegetables with fruit-like characteristics (chile, rhubarb, pumpkin, etc.) may also be used. Wood or barrel aging is very common, but not required.

Style Comparison:
Like a fruit, herb, spice, or wood beer, but sour and/or funky.