Citrus Flavours in Beer

The scent and flavour of different citrus fruits work wonderfully well with beer! Over the centuries, brewers have found all sorts of ways to bring the two together, creating a huge range of refreshing beers.

The simplest way to marry citrus and beer is to jam a lemon wedge into the neck of the beer bottle, but that’s not the end of the story. Shandies and radlers achieve the effect by mixing beer and carbonated fruit juice; other beers add citrus peel to the brewing recipe. Then there are particular varieties of hops that impart distinctively citric aromas and flavours to beer—Centennial and Citra hops add powerful grapefruit and lemon notes; Amarillo hops often seem more orangey. At an even more molecular level, specific yeasts produce fruity esters during fermentation that give the finished beer subtle citrus nuances. The science is fascinating; more importantly, perhaps, the beers are truly delicious. Here are three citrusy brews worth getting to know.


First brewed by monks in the town of Hoegaarden back in 1445, this is the protoype of Belgian “white” beers: pale, cloudy and subtly sweet and sour. Those monks made good use of coriander seed and bitter orange peel from the Dutch colony of Curaçao, both of which are still part of the brewing recipe.


Stiegl Grapefruit Radler

Radler means “cyclist” in German, and also, now, a low-alcohol shandy that refreshes a cyclist when he returns home at the end of a long bike ride. This one comes from Salzburg, Austria, a mix of 40 percent Stiegl-Goldbräu lager and 60 percent fizzy grapefruit juice. Super-fruity and refreshing!


Collective Arts Saint of Circumstance

The brewers at Collective Arts in Hamilton, Ont., have created a beautifully balanced citrus blond ale using Citra, Centennial and Amarillo hops, then adding orange and lemon zest to supercharge the citrus. Hops and peel both provide a delectable bitterness that IPA fans will love.