Adding Blueberries to Beer (Techniques, Recipes, and FAQs)

Adding blueberries to beer can complement other underlying flavors or add a fresh, fruity taste. Many types of beer work well with blueberries and there are several ways you can add them to your next brew.

While blueberries are not used in any traditional brewing methods, their light, tart flavor complements many styles. When adding blueberries to beer, start with a style or recipe, then add fresh or frozen blueberries during the secondary fermentation. You can also add extracts or fruit juice during secondary fermentation or at bottling or kegging.

Read on to find out the best kinds of beer to add blueberries to. Get the details on how what kind of blueberries to use and how much to add, as well as learn when to add blueberries to get the best flavor and aroma for your beer.

What kind of beer can you add blueberries to?

Blueberries can be added to almost any kind of beer. Their light, tart flavor can bring a slight sweetness to robust beers such as stouts, lagers, and porters. They can also complement flavors in wheat beers, and add a fruity kick to lighter beers like IPAs, pale ales, and pale lagers. 

Try out a few craft beers on the market that are made with blueberries to get a feel for the type of blueberry flavor you’ll want to add to your own.

The best kinds of beer to add blueberries to are: 

  • American lager (or pale lager) – These lagers are pale, straw-colored, light-bodied, and built for drinkability. They feature a crisp, balanced flavor and little to no bitterness with low hop and malt flavors. This style takes inspiration from the Pilsners of the Czech Republic and Germany and typically has a low ABV (3.2-4%).
  • American blonde ale/American pale wheat ale – These beers are slightly more complex than American lagers and ales. They are pale in color with bready, malty flavors with a slight bitterness and an ABV is generally around 5%.
  • Hefeweizen/Weissbier – This German wheat beer brewed with Weizen yeast and 50% malt wheat. It is straw to amber in color with fruity aromas and complex flavors like clove, banana, and bubblegum. The American version tends to be lighter and some versions are hoppier. The ABV is generally 5-5.5%. 
  • Berliner Weisse: A cloudy northern Bavarian-style beer that is cloudy, the Berliner is often mixed with fruit and lactose milk sugar. It has a balanced, lightly sweet, and sour taste, and an ABV around 5%.
  • Saison – With a gold to light amber color, this beer has some yeast character and high carbonation. It is a light-bodied traditional ale that originated in southern Belgium. Fruity, spicy, and often tart, the ABV is around 5.5-7%.
  • IPAs – These popular beers have an ultra clear to deep amber appearance. They have a strong, hops-driven flavor with a higher ABV of around 6-8%. Often fruity, piney, or floral flavored from the hops that are used. 
  • Stouts – These beers have a balanced sweetness with a medium hop bitterness and earthy, nutty, and oat flavors with mild notes of coffee or chocolate. They have a deep brown to black color with an ABV of 4.2-5.9%.
  • Porters – Porters have a deep malty sweetness with complex caramel, nutty, and toffee flavors with hints of chocolate and coffee. The color is dark brown to black with an ABV of 6.5-9.5%.
  • Sour Beers – This beer is characterized by a moderately sour taste with a balanced wheat and malt flavor with a bit of sweetness. The colors ranges from pale to dark gold and the beer may take on the colors of any fruits added. Average ABV can range from 4.0% to as much as 9.0%.

Keep reading to learn more about adding blueberries to these beer styles.

What kind of blueberries should you use when brewing?

Homebrewers love to experiment, and there are many opinions about what kind of blueberries you should use when brewing. There are two kinds of blueberries recommended as the best to use for home brewing. 

Crushed fresh blueberries or frozen blueberries are the best to use when brewing. Crushing fresh berries breaks down the pulps and skins, and freezing them bursts the cell walls as they thaw. Both preparation methods produce the most flavor with the clearest beer and make it easiest to strain out the solids.

It is also possible to use blueberry puree or extracts, although these are more likely to have unwanted outcomes. Purees are harder to strain out and may lead to cloudiness. Extracts often leave an artificial or even medicinal taste.

Fresh or frozen

Using fresh or frozen blueberries is the best choice when adding flavor to your beer.

Fresh or frozen blueberries can be added during secondary fermentation to impart a tart, fruity flavor to your brew. This method is easier to strain out during bottling, ensuring optimum flavor without cloudiness. Whether you use fresh or frozen berries in your brewing depends primarily on your individual taste and the availability of fresh blueberries.

Fresh blueberries can be crushed using a potato masher or rolling pin. If you aren’t able to get good quality fresh berries, then frozen blueberries are also a good choice. 

Frozen blueberries at the grocery store are picked at peak ripeness. This means that frozen blueberries will have more flavor and sugar, which is ideal for home brewing. Most brewers agree if you can get frozen organic wild blueberries that they impart the best flavor.

Puree

Pureeing blueberries in your blender breaks down the insoluble compounds in the skins into tiny pieces that will produce a cloudy beer with solids that aren’t easily strained out; however, pureeing fresh blueberries is time-consuming and is likely to be more expensive than the canned variety.

Canned blueberry puree is convenient and has the advantage of being sterile and pre-strained to remove any unwanted solids that may lead to a cloudy beer. However, canned purees will impart a different flavor than fresh or frozen berries.

Despite being strained, canned purees may still lead to cloudiness, which may be okay for a wheat beer but is less desirable for a blonde or pale ale for example.

Extracts

You can also use extracts for adding blueberry flavoring to your beer.

Extracts can provide a heavier fruit flavor and avoid the mess and preparation needed when using fresh or frozen blueberries. The issue with using extracts is they can impart an artificial flavor, be overwhelming or give the final beer a medicinal taste.

It can take some experimenting to get the desired flavor for the type of beer you’re brewing.

Juices

When adding blueberry juice to beer, it must be made with 100% fruit.

Using juice in your beer will likely also add more sugar to the brew. While it won’t harm the beer, it will add to the alcohol content slightly. You’ll also need more juice to get enough flavor.

Some juices also contain preservatives. These can interfere with brewer’s yeast, so try to avoid juices containing preservatives.

How much blueberry should you add to a homebrew recipe?

How much blueberry you should add to a homebrew recipe will vary by the type of beer you’re making, and how much blueberry flavor you want in your finished product. It also depends on how the berries are prepared, and when you add them during the brewing process.

Add up to 2 lbs of fresh or frozen blueberries per gallon of wort to get a good blueberry flavor. When using puree, it’s recommended to add ¼ – ½ lb per gallon. Blueberry extract can also be used by adding 2-4 oz per 5 gallons. A priming sugar calculator can give the correct amount of blueberry juice to use to replace priming sugar.

Blueberries are typically a lighter flavored fruit. It takes more blueberries than other types of fruit to reach a moderate level of flavor and aroma. 

Fresh or frozen

A good rule of thumb is to use 1-2 lbs of fresh or frozen blueberries per gallon of wort depending on the type of beer, the desired amount of blueberry flavor, and when the fruit is added. 

Puree

If you’re using a canned puree, the recommended range to add is ¼-½ lb of puree per gallon of wort. 

Extract

If you’re adding extract at kegging or bottling, the recommended amount is 2-4 oz of blueberry extract for every 5 gallons of beer to add or supplement both aroma and flavor.

Juice

Juice is usually added at kegging or bottling and should be used as a replacement for priming sugar.

Using a priming sugar calculator is the easiest way to determine the amount of juice to use for the size of your batch.

When should you add blueberries to your beer?

There are several points when you can add blueberries to your beer. As with any fruit, adding it at different times during brewing and fermentation can have different results.

Depending on the type and strength of blueberry flavor and aroma you want, you should add blueberries:

  • During the boil
  • At primary fermentation
  • At secondary fermentation

Keep reading for the pros and cons of adding blueberries at each of these stages.

During the boil

Adding blueberries during the boil can significantly reduce the fruit’s aroma and flavor in your beer. It can also cause the fruit to release pectins that will make your beer hazy. The final beer is also likely to have more of a cooked blueberry flavor rather than the flavor of fresh fruit.

If you’re adding blueberries during the boil, try adding them at flameout, and again during secondary fermentation to get the most consistent flavor and aroma according to professional brewers.

Adding the blueberries after the boil at flameout, once the wort has cooled below 180°F will sterilize it to prevent infection and prevent the fruit from releasing pectin that will make your beer hazy.

During primary fermentation

It’s not recommended to add blueberries during primary fermentation.

This is when beer is most susceptible to contamination or infections. Also, the vigorous fermentation that it produces will scrub away many of the fruit’s aromatic compounds. 

This means you will get little if any actual fruit flavor or aroma and what it does produce will be the fermented flavor of the fruit. If you plan to try adding blueberries to the primary fermentation, wait until fermentation is almost complete.

During secondary fermentation

Adding blueberries at secondary fermentation seems to be the preferred method for most brewers. 

Adding crushed blueberries or frozen blueberries at secondary fermentation decreases the possibility of infection because alcohol is already present and primary fermentation has already consumed most of the sugars from the wort.

If you’re adding blueberries at flameout and secondary fermentation, the bulk of the berries should be added at second fermentation for the most flavor and aroma in the final beer.

At kegging or bottling

If you’ve tried one of the other methods for adding blueberries to your beer, and you still aren’t satisfied with the flavor, you can still add blueberry extract to supplement the taste. 

How to brew with blueberries

Now that we know the type of beer we want to brew, the best kind of blueberries to add, and when to add them we just need to know how to brew with blueberries. 

The desired level and type of flavor will depend on the type and amount of blueberries being used and the stage in which they are introduced. The best way to brew with blueberries is to add them during one or more of these stages:

  • During the boil
  • During primary fermentation
  • During secondary fermentation
  • During bottling or kegging

Keep reading to learn more about how to add blueberries at each stage of the brewing process.

During the boil

Adding fruit to boiling wort kills bacteria, but it is not a recommended method for adding blueberries to beer.

If you’re adding blueberries to the boil, the best way to do it is:

  • Add frozen whole berries at flameout.
  • Let them steep throughout the cooling process.
  • Strain the solids out with the hops.

Boiling blueberries releases a compound called pectin that produces cloudy, off-flavored beer. It also removes much of the fruit aroma and flavor in the process. Adding blueberries at flameout will preserve a little more of the flavor and aroma and reduce the issues with pectin.

During primary fermentation

Adding fruit during primary fermentation is only recommended if your fermenter is small or you’re adding a lot of fruit (over 10 lbs). If you’re adding blueberries during the primary fermentation, it is recommended to wait until the primary is almost done.

Frozen or fresh blueberries

  • Add crushed or frozen blueberries to the primary fermenter after 2-3 days of fermentation once vigorous fermentation has subsided.
  • Let sit for the remainder of the primary fermentation and rack the beer off the solids into a secondary fermenter.
  • Continue with secondary fermentation.
  • Continue with the bottling or kegging process as normal.

Puree

  • Add blueberry puree when the hydrometer reading is 1.020 or you see 3 to 5 bubbles per minute coming out of the airlock.
  • Let sit for the remainder of the primary fermentation.
  • Rack the beer off the solids into a secondary fermenter.
  • Continue with secondary fermentation.
  • Continue with the bottling or kegging process as normal.

Adding extracts or juices isn’t recommended during primary fermentation. 

During secondary fermentation

Secondary fermentation is the ideal time to add blueberries to your beer. It yields the best results for fresh flavor and aroma. To add blueberries to your secondary fermentation, follow these steps:

Frozen blueberries

Freezing blueberries will break open the cell structure of the fruit when added during secondary fermentation. This gives the yeast access to the sugars inside the fruit and yields a fresher blueberry flavor. 

To add frozen blueberries during secondary fermentation:

  • Pour frozen blueberries into a clean carboy.
  • Rack the beer from your primary fermenter to your secondary on top of the blueberries.
  • Leave them without stirring for 2 to 3 weeks to ferment the sugars in the fruit.
  • Siphon the beer away from the fruit solids into a keg or bottling bucket.
  • Proceed with bottling or kegging as normal.

It’s recommended to add the blueberries while frozen rather than thawing first. Thawing may give microbes a better chance to grow. If they are frozen so the microbes are least active, this can allow the yeast to take over first.

Fresh blueberries

Crushing fresh blueberries before adding to the secondary fermentation is also a great way to get the freshest blueberry flavor. 

To add fresh blueberries to the secondary fermentation:

  • Gently crush fresh blueberries.
  • Heat crushed blueberries to 160°F.
  • Cool the crushed berries to 70 °F and add to a clean carboy.
  • Rack the beer on top of the blueberries in the secondary fermenter.
  • Leave them without stirring for 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Siphon the beer away from the solids.
  • Proceed with bottling or kegging as normal.

Using fresh berries does have a slightly higher probability of contamination. The fruit can be heated or submerged in Starsan sanitizer before being crushed and added to the fermenter. However, heating the fruit does change the flavor.

Another option would be to soak the blueberries in vodka for a few hours before crushing and adding them to the secondary fermenter.

Canned puree

Using canned puree is the easiest and safest method for adding blueberries during the second fermentation. This works best if you use a large secondary fermenter. Canned puree is flash pasteurized.

To added canned blueberry puree during secondary fermentation:

  • Clean and sterilize the secondary fermenter.
  • Funnel the puree into the fermenter.
  • Rack your beer on top of the puree in the secondary fermenter.
  • Leave them without stirring for 2 to 3 weeks to ferment the sugars in the fruit.
  • Siphon the beer away from the fruit solids into a keg or bottling bucket.
  • Proceed with bottling or kegging as normal.

Extracts or juice

Using blueberry extract or pasteurized fruit juice without preservatives are two easy and clean ways to add blueberry flavor to your beer during secondary fermentation. 

To use juice or extract to add blueberry flavor to you beer during secondary fermentation:

  • Rack the beer to the secondary fermenter.
  • Slowly pour the fruit extract or juice into the secondary fermenter as the beer is racked. 
  • Stir the mixture gently with a sterilized spoon.
  • Leave the mixture for 2 to 3 weeks to ferment the sugars in the fruit.
  • Siphon the beer into a keg or bottling bucket.
  • Proceed with bottling or kegging as normal.

During bottling or kegging

Adding blueberries to beer during bottling or kegging isn’t recommended. You can add blueberry puree or fruit juice, however, adjustments to the priming sugar must be made to prevent bottle bombs. Using an extract is the easiest way to add blueberry flavor during bottling or kegging.

Puree

Using puree at bottling or kegging would add sediment to the finished beer. The main concern, however, is refermentation from the sugars that could produce bottle bombs. 

When using blueberry puree during the bottle process, keep in mind that:

  • Puree can be used in place of priming sugar.
  • Priming sugar needs to be adjusted using the nutrition facts (grams of sugar) and a priming sugar calculator to account for the added sugar from the puree.

Fruit juice

Fruit juices produce great flavor in finished beer when used in place of priming sugar during bottling or kegging. Your beer needs to be at terminal gravity before adding the juice to prevent over carbonation and bottle bombs. 

Use a priming sugar calculator and the nutrition facts (grams of sugar) from the fruit juice bottle to determine how much juice to add. 

When adding fruit juice to your brew during the bottling process, here are few important things to keep in mind:

  • Always use 100% juice (not from concentrate is easier to calculate) that has been pasteurized and contains no preservatives for best results.
  • Transfer your beer from your fermenter to a bottling bucket or keg.
  • Add the fruit juice (pasteurized) as you would the priming sugar.
  • Proceed with bottling or kegging as normal.

Extract

Using fruit extract is the easiest way to add blueberry flavor to beer at bottling or kegging. They tend to be on the strong and sweet side, so start with 2 oz for a 5-gallon batch and add more if you want a stronger flavor.

To add extracts to your beer at the bottle stage, you should:

  • Pour 2-4 oz of the extract for 5-gallons of beer into the bottling bucket or keg before transferring the beer.
  • Rack the beer to the bottling bucket or keg.
  • Proceed with bottling or kegging as normal.

There are many ways to add delicious blueberry flavor to a wide range of beers. Experimentation is key with a lightly flavored fruit like blueberries. Be sure to make note of the methods and amounts you try so it’s easier to adjust in subsequent batches until you get the perfect level of juicy blueberry flavor in your homebrew.

Most Recommended!
Start Homebrewing DELICIOUS Beer!

Everything you need to brew 5 gallons of beer at home including full step-by-step instructions!

Buy Now On Amazon Buy Now On Morebeer.com
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.