10 Reasons to Stop Being a Jerk and Drink a Fruit Beer

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- There are few things worse than the rambling, pompous, judgmental beer snob, but mention "fruit" and "beer" in the same breath and you'll encounter perhaps the two people in the beer-drinking world who are undisputedly more annoying: The beer purist and the anti-snob.

The first is just incredibly frustrating to deal with. He or she is a variant of beer snob who will think nothing of calling their Imperial India Pale Ale "citrusy" or claim their Russian Imperial Stout tastes like "dark fruits," but turn away from a beer like a vampire from garlic if there's even a hint of apricot, tangerine or (heaven forfend) berry in the recipe.

The second is likely someone close to you whose palate has been weathered by time and countless battles with beer snobs. They insist that "beer should taste like beer" and are the loudest voice in the room when someone disparages a light lager made by Anheuser-Busch InBev ( BUD), SABMiller, MolsonCoors ( TAP), Yuengling or otherwise. They'd have the 16th century Reinheitsgebot German beer purity law limiting ingredients to water, barley and hops tattooed on their backs if they didn't think spouting some obscure European beer law would make them sound like a geek. They'd just as soon throw a wedge of lime at you for handing them a Corona as they would break a bottle of blueberry lager over your head just for suggesting a sip.

These two breeds of beer drinker can make life miserable for those who just want to enjoy a beer in peace and can ruin an otherwise wonderful beer experience by suggesting the presence of fruit in beer indicates there's something wrong with the drinker. The one universal truth about these two folks is that they're both best ignored around this time of year.

As the weather warms, a little bit of citrus in a wheat beer or a touch of peach in a Berliner Weisse can prove even more refreshing than a tall, cold glass of pale suds.

With some help from the raters at BeerAdvocate and RateBeer and some sampling of our own, we've come up with 10 fruit beers that should help silence the naysayers:

Samuel Adams Blueberry Hill Lager

Alcohol by volume: 5.5%

Boston Beer's ( SAM) brewing neighbors in New England have been making their blueberry beers for quite a while now, so it was somewhat of a surprise to see this sneak into Samuel Adams summer variety packs. But after years of having its summer ale share shelf space with Wachusett Brewing's dynamite Wachusett Blueberry and the dancing-blueberry theatrics off the frozen berries in Boston brewpub chain Beer Works' Bunker Hill Blueberry, Samuel Adams stepped up with a solid blueberry beer of its own. Culling berries from New England, Michigan and the Pacific Northwest, Boston Beer infuses this lager with a heavy dose of berry flavor while throwing in just enough hops for a citrus bite at the end. It's a more pronounced blueberry flavor than that found in other beers of this ilk, but it's intense without being syrupy sweet or off-putting.

Dogfish Head Tweason'ale

Alcohol by volume: 6%

Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione released Tweason'ale for the first time last year as a gluten-free beer, but you don't have to dodge gluten to enjoy this refreshingly sweet ale. The barley is replaced with sorghum, but that's not what a drinker tastes on the first sip. The base of this beer is strawberry, but cutting it with buckwheat honey and just a bit of molasses gives Tweason'ale a complexity more akin to a wine or blended cider. The cider comparison is fairly apt, as a research mission to a bottle shop in Portland, Ore., led a clerk to offer this alongside other, more stout ciders. It's pleasant, refreshing and doesn't sit nearly as heavily as some of its grainier summer competitors.

New Glarus Raspberry Tart

Alcohol by volume: 4%

President Barack Obama had New Glarus co-founder Deborah Carey over to the White House last year to discuss small business concerns, but we'd be disappointed if he didn't score a few bottles of their expansive fruit beer offerings from the exchange. With selections including a Belgian Red, Cherry Stout and Apple Ale, it gets really tough not to dive headlong into one of the most impressive collections of fruity beers in the country. Their Raspberry Tart is a near-perfect summer offering that's so sweet and fizzy that the brewery recommends chilling it and serving it in a champagne flute. It's not a terrible idea, as it drinks much like a wine and has only enough hops to create a slightly bitter nip at the end. That it's served in 750-milliliter bottles may help solidify its place in the wine rack, but the sweet Framboise Ale is still enough of a summer beer to break out with some barbecued pork, grilled chicken or a late-night slice of rhubarb pie.

New Belgium Pluot

Alcohol by volume: 10%

This is where summer refreshment takes a back seat to some intense flavor. Beer drinkers familiar with Pyramid Brewing's Apricot Ale or Magic Hat No. 9 may already be comfortable with the idea of apricot in their beer. Blend that apricot flavor with a bit of plum, however, and you get this hybrid brew from the Fort Collins, Colo.-based brewer's experimental Lips Of Faith collection. At 10% ABV, it's a bit more of a warmer than the other fruit beers on this list, but the sweetness of the apricot and the tartness of the plum create a complex blend that knows no season. While more of a Belgian mad-brewer experiment than a true fruit beer, Pluot still fits well within that description and does the genre a favor by exploring its edges a bit. At the very least, it's a great backyard/back deck/balcony sunset-watching beer.

Cascade Brewing's The Vine

Alcohol by volume: 8.85%

If it's made with pressed grapes, it must be wine, right? Not in Portland, it doesn't. The Northwest-style sour ale produced by this pub-and-barrel-house brewer blends blonde and wheat ales that were barrel aged for nearly a year before aging the mix on fresh-pressed white grape must for another three months. What does that make? A beer ridiculously flavorful enough to be drunk out of wine glasses. It's not as dry as all this wine talk would suggest, nor does it have the same bite as what you'll find coming out of nearby Willamette Valley vineyards. For lack of a better description, it's like a white grape wheat beer or, perhaps more fittingly, grape cider. While the slight sour flavor keeps it from being cider sweet, it's still surprisingly refreshing for a beer of its heft and is a great warm-weather treat out of a chilled bottle.

21st Amendment Hell Or High Watermelon Wheat

Alcohol by volume: 4.9%

Watermelon wheat beer in a 12-ounce can released just before summer? Yeah, this is going to make our fruit beer list just about every year San Francisco-based 21st Amendment brews it. Though usually the domain of brewpubs that stick foot-long wedges of watermelon into pint glasses of heffeweizen and call it a special, watermelon beer has a bit of a bad reputation in beer circles. For wheat beer fans and those who prefer refreshment over fistfuls of hops, 21st Amendment's watermelon wheat is a smooth, malty alternative to more bitter summer beers.

Moylan's Brewery Pomegranate Wheat

Alcohol by volume: 5%

Marin Brewing co-founder Brendan Moylan's been brewing since 1989 and built his reputation in Novato by making enjoyable, flavorful brews that fit in quite well with his Novato, Calif., neighbors. Moylan's Pomegranate Wheat steers away from that a bit by taking a mild, lightly hopped wheat beer and brewing it with Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice. The result is a tangy 5% ABV dream of a beer that's slightly more flavorful than Moylan's standard boysenberry wheat brew while far more fizzy and light than straight pomegranate juice. It's a fun little experiment that's an excellent fit for a stiflingly hot summer.

Elysian Brewing's Superfuzz Blood Orange Pale

Alcohol by volume: 5.4%

This Seattle brew may not be as big and brash as the Univox guitar pedal that helped give Seattle its sound or the late-'80s Mudhoney album Superfuzz Bigmuff that helped usher in grunge, but they don't have to be. Summer in Seattle is a near 180 from the rest of the year. The clouds part for weeks at a time, the mountains are out and brewpub and dive-bar nesting is replaced with outdoor drinking. Elysian's summer seasonal gets into that spirit by blending local Cascade hops with just enough blood orange to let you know it's there. Northwest beers drifts toward the citrusy anyway, so why not go full-tilt and add some sweet citrus to the mix? Refreshing like an orange soda, but with enough hop bite to hold up as a beer.

Northwest Brewing's Mango Weizen

Alcohol by volume: 6%

A small brewery in Pacific, Wash., just outside Tacoma in the shadow of Mount Rainier doesn't exactly seem like the lead candidate to produce a mango beer, but there's no messing with Northwest's signature summer offering. The brewery adds fresh mango puree during the cold conditioning process to give this wheaty German mainstay enough sweet mango aroma and flavor to assert itself. It's a subtle blend that doesn't overpower with its namesake fruit, but takes just enough chances to juice up an already great summer beer a bit.

Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat

Alcohol by volume: 5%

In Eureka, Calif., they've been brewing this bittersweet take on wheat beer for a while now and its 22-ounce bomber bottles have become a West Coast summer mainstay as a result. What's not to like? Lost Coast doesn't skimp on the tangerine and makes the flavor palatable enough to serve as a crossover beer for the same drinkers who didn't get into craft beer until MolsonCoors' Blue Moon beers came along. While more complex than that particular offering, it's no less enjoyable. In its 22-ounce form, it also requires a lot less of a commitment than splurging on a six pack.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.

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