February is National Grapefruit Month. And since it’s a good idea to ingest as much vitamin C in these, chilly winter months, I’m sure you are looking for any way to enjoy grapefruit that is different from the norm. Lucky for you, many well-known breweries are currently making beers that heavily feature the zesty citrus fruit. Beers like Samuel Adams Rebel Grapefruit IPA, Victory Brewing’s Agave IPA with Grapefruit and Schöfferhofer Grapefruit are leading the pack in terms of flavor and innovation.
Samuel Adams Rebel Grapefruit IPA
“Rebel Grapefruit IPA is the newest brew in our Rebel family of IPAs,” says Samuel Adams brewer Seth Adams. Drinkers got a first taste of it in November when it was released on draft, and now they can find it nationwide in bottles and 16 oz. cans. “It’s brewed with real grapefruit peel and juice, and packs a huge citrus punch.”
They used four hop varieties in Rebel Grapefruit IPA to complement the grapefruit character and give this brew its West Coast hop character – Mosaic, Centennial, Cascade and Citra. “I really like brewing with Mosaic hops because they impart these tropical, citrus notes, which work so well with the juiciness and tartness of the grapefruit.”
They use two grapefruit varieties to brew Rebel Grapefruit IPA – Star Ruby and Star Rio grapefruits, both grown in California. “During the brewing process, we add grapefruit peel to the kettle which lends a tart, sharp character. Before the beer is filtered, we add grapefruit juice for sweetness and to round out the bitterness from the peel.”
Adams loves a big, citrusy IPA and he enjoys how grapefruit works well with the Mosaic hops used in this beer. “The addition of grapefruit strengthens this citrus character even more with added tartness and sweet juiciness. We’ve had a lot of fun brewing with grapefruit and love the citrusy flavor profile the grapefruit bestows, and we’ve heard from our drinkers that they agree.”
Rebel Grapefruit IPA is tart and refreshing, and it balances soft, buttery flavors like avocado and cheese. “It also cuts through the rich creaminess of desserts like orange pound cake, without overpowering them. The bitterness and bold character of the brew stands up to richer, spicier foods like dry-rub pork or strong cheeses.”
Victory Agave IPA with Grapefruit
The juice in Victory IPA with Grapefruit is 100% juice, not from concentrate, pasteurized grapefruit juice. “We used it at a 5% blend into terminally fermented beer,” says Bill Covaleski, Co-Founder of Victory. The juice was grown, picked and processed by Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice in Ft. Pierce, Florida. “Natalie’s has a great story and we thought they were the absolute best partners for us in this product.” The juice is pasteurized, then packaged in 50-gallon drums and shipped to Victory in refrigerated trucks. “We blend the juice into the beer just before clarification and bottling.”
Covaleski says that grapefruit works well in beer for a variety of reasons. “Flavor compounds within some American varieties of hops bear a resemblance to flavor compounds found in grapefruit.” Of course, they are not the first to realize this dynamic. “Finding complimentary flavors in your hop choices and juice is the key to success.”
Many hop flavors compliment grapefruit. “The obvious answer is those that provide citrus-forward harmony. Outside of hops, some food partners with dynamic affinity for grapefruit would be gingerbread and triple crème cheeses.”
He says that grapefruit is an obvious flavor for beer. “Brewers are naturally curious about flavor and flavor combinations so when we perceive a flavor in a beer or hop we often think of ways to either amplify that flavor or balance it with a complimentary flavor to create a more profound, overall impression for our consumer.” He adds, “Grapefruit is a unique fruit in that it offers both sweetness and bitterness, just as well-designed ale can.”
Schöfferhofer Grapefruit launched in Germany in 2007 to immediate success. “A soft launch in the U.S. followed five years later and the beer’s surprising qualities continue to exceed expectations everywhere it goes,” says Armin Buehler, Senior Marketing Manager, Radeberger Gruppe USA. Schöfferhofer Grapefruit is based on and part of a larger family of beers from a modern Weizen brewery from the Hessen region in Germany. “Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen was first brewed in 1978 and was the first wheat beer to be brewed outside Bavaria. It has a distinctive, elegant profile that is more flavorful and less filling than traditional Bavarian brews.” It’s made with approximately 10 percent real grapefruit juice.
He says the reason that grapefruit works well in beer is because of the idea that opposites attract. “Schöfferhofer Grapefruit is a true 50/50 blend of total refreshment made with 50 percent Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen and 50 percent carbonated natural grapefruit juice giving it a distinct flavor of zesty, tangy, fizzy, and above all, refreshing satisfaction.”
Many flavors work well with grapefruit. “Overall, grapefruit is a great match with other citrus and tropical fruits, such as orange and pineapple, as well as avocado, blue cheese, caramel, watercress, caramel, pork, and shellfish,” says Buehler. “It also complements basil, black pepper, mint, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, juniper, and vanilla.”
Buehler believes that so many breweries are introducing grapefruit in their beers because it’s fresh and flavorful and perfectly paired with the spicy hoppiness in many beers.
“It has this fantastic and unique combination of characteristics.” When balanced properly, grapefruit can add a tasty, tart and refreshing twist to a hoppy flavor profile. “Across the board, grapefruit and fruit flavors have been experiencing a huge surge, with grapefruit really peaking last and this year in the shandy and IPA beer aisle.
In addition, we grapefruit has been seen on the cocktail side as well. “Aside from being great on its own, Schöfferhofer Grapefruit is truly a versatile beverage,” says Buehler. “It is a fantastic beer for creating cocktails or pairing with a chaser.”