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Fruitastic photography by Chelsea McDowell

What is a spring beer?

After the winter we’ve had, it probably seemed impossible that there would ever be warm weather again, but it’s coming. If it’s not, this issue’s Fruit Beer Spotlight feature will be pointless, and here at What’s Brewing we don’t do pointless stuff. Much.

Spring differs from other seasons in that there is a very short list of styles historically released during this time. In fact, only one stands out: Bock, a German tradition. Since a bundle of BC bock bottles can be tougn to snag, we’re choosing fruit. The Easter Bunny tempted us with chocolate beers, but that’s really a winter thing. We’re confident that you’ll be out on the patio in shorts with a fruit beer in your hand before you know it.

What is a fruit beer?

Judging contests and beer categorization systems often feature a category named Fruit Beer. This segment is sometimes combined to include beers that involve other produce such as pumpkins, vegetables, or herbs. Fruit Beer is not strictly a style in the sense of a traditional brewing approach with a single historical root like Pilsner, Dortmunder or the like. It’s a class of beers that employ fruit as an additive in order to obtain flavours (and sometimes mouthfeel) that wouldn’t be possible through yeast selection alone.

North American fruit beers are often wheat-based. Certain fruits lend a tart character and residual body matter that pair well with a hazy, unfiltered wheat ale. The refreshing result becomes addictively drinkable in warm temperatures. Keep this list handy for reference right through summer, when we present Part II.

Our Judges

Our five volunteer beer experts are:

 Warren Boyer, BJCP-Certified brewer & community leader

Julia Hanlon, Head Brewer, Steamworks (why yes, we did name her our Brewer of the Year for 2016)

 Lynn McIlwee of Hops Canary: experienced beer event judge and homebrewer

 Chelsea McDowell of Brewtiful BC: experienced beer event judge and homebrewer

Paul Pyne of DrinkSmarter: Certified Cicerone®, beer tutor, and good guy everybody knows by sight.

Our Beers

This round’s submissions include five fruit beers:

  1. Bridge Brewing: Blood Orange
  2. Fernie Brewing: What The Huck
  3. Fuggles & Warlock: Last Strawberry Wit
  4. Old Yale: Mango Wheat
  5. Postmark: Mandarina Wheat

We missed the boat on Moon Under Water’s Oranje Maan Wit. Crap! Instead, we continue the summery trend by adding in their Light Side of the Moon lager, brewed with lighter rice malts and sweet orange peel.

How judging is done

Our unsanctioned competition uses a Zagat-like 30-point rating with a weighted scale based loosely on the BJCP Scoresheet. Panellists are instructed to give an honest rating, not a sugar-coating. There is always something about each beer that at least one or two panelists with either like or dislike!

   Appearance: 3 points

   Aroma: 6 points

   Palate (mouthfeel): 3 points

   Flavour: 8 points

   Overall Impression: 10 points


Note: neither What’s Brewing nor Legacy Liquor Store bear responsi­bility for the opinions expressed within, which are solely those of the individual panelists.

This round’s Winner is…

Our Spring champion, for Last Strawberry Wit, is Fug­gles & Warlock—no stranger to winning beer contests. They earn themselves a shiny new Stan Lee No-Prize (and they’re just the guys who might actually get that reference). Well done!


The Results

Fruit beer category: overall scores

This is how the total input broke down.

First Pour




This category is less hoppy than others; the balance was more toward malt
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