Impact Of Time Over Flavor Of Fruit In Secondary

Brewing beer with fruit is a great way to add complexity and flavor to your beer. I have experimented brewing with fruit many times, even with fruit grown in my very backyard. But I’ve often fell short on depth of flavor and maybe it has something to do with secondary fermentation.

Fruit should be left in secondary fermentation for a minimum of one week. Two weeks is also a common length many homebrewers leave fruit in secondary. Fruit flavor and length of time has diminishing returns, if you extend the time from one to two weeks your fruit flavor will not double.

Adding fruit to secondary is probably the best way to add fruit flavor to your beer, but there are other ways and problems that may arise from fresh fruit added to secondary fermentation.

Fruit in Secondary a Sliding Scale

The first time I tried adding fruit to secondary I had no idea what I was doing. While this may seem silly, there are actually a variety of ways to get the desired flavor.

When you are adding fruit to secondary there are many options that you can choose.

  1. Fresh Fruit
  2. Fruit Puree
  3. Frozen Fruit
  4. Extract

Because I like to produce beer as cheap as possible I like to utilize the fruit from my very backyard. When using fresh fruit it is important to make sure the fruit is clean and free from bacteria or other radicals.

Make sure you cut up the fruit and it to your secondary before pouring the beer in. It may end up floating, but you should add the fruit first.

You can either cut up into chucks or puree your fresh fruit in a blender. As a reminder was and peel your fruit and get them as clean as possible before adding to the blender.

Blending or turning your fruit into a puree will result in much more surface area than chopping the fruit.

Since you are adding more surface area to your fruit the length of time to get the most fruit flavor into your beer will likely be reduced.

If you don’t have any fresh fruit from the yard you could buy some from the store. You can even buy frozen fruit. You need to make sure the fruit is unfrozen before putting in secondary otherwise you could kill the yeast.

I would suggest buying high quality frozen fruit to add since it will have a greater level of flavor. A lot of frozen fruit is frozen at peak flavor so it is also a better idea to get frozen vs fresh fruit from the store.

Just remember if you take a bite of fresh fruit from the store and you don’t love its delicious flavor, its not going to make your beer taste any better. The quality of ingredients matters.

When it really comes down to it, any of the mashed, fresh or frozen fruits will require the same amount of time. A minimum of one week, if you want to try and extract more flavor you can leave it in longer but could run the risk of contamination.

A good way to add that fruit flavor to you beer in far less time is to just add extract. That’s the clear liquid that you can get from many brew supply stores.

One drawback of using extract may be that it doesn’t have quite the same taste as fresh fruit, it might taste a bit manufactured, at least that’s what I’ve experienced.

You actually don’t even need to add the extract to the secondary but could just go straight to bottling.

Quantity Matters

When you add fruit to the secondary you will need add varying quantities depending on the type of fruit you use.

As a general rule of thumb you need to add less fruit for strong flavors such as raspberries and more fruit for lighter flavors such as peaches.

While I wont suggest exact amounts of fruits that you need to add, since every persons preference of deepness of flavor is different. I will say that on average for weak fruits you will need 2 lbs per gallon of beer and 1/2 a pound for stronger fruits.

You can tinker with the amounts to get the right deepness in flavor that you prefer. While quantity of fruit does matter, the length of time and surface area are also going to matter.

So if you want to save money on your fruit quantities you could decide to let it ferment for a bit longer. There is a peak though, so if you like it reeeally fruity then you need those large quantities.

I would warn against adding large quantities of fruit to secondary if you don’t have a lot of extra space in your 5 gallon beer, maybe even brew only 4 gallons if you plan on adding a lot. It could result in a blowout and extra volume that your container may not be able to support.

Again there are risks to doing this, but as long as you keep things sterile and can wait a bit longer to enjoy your beer, its up to you.

Bottling and Kegging

When brewing a fruit flavored beer the deepness of flavor depends on the time that it is in secondary fermentation. Not only that but the flavor can also decrease over time after being bottled or kegged.

This can lead to a multitude of problems depending on how you want to enjoy your beer. If you want the most in your face fruit flavor you should probably keg it and then drink it right away.

If you like bottling and distributing your home brew you will need to hone the flavor profile after a few weeks of settling. You might have let your homebrew carbonate and immediately tried it to find an excellent or even perfect flavor.

Then when you decide a few months later to let some of your buddies try it and they just are not quite as moved by it. The flavor probably decreased and maybe even revealed flavors you just don’t want to be front and center.

There doesn’t seem to be a hard rule on how long it takes fruit flavors to settle in your home brew. Again it will diminish over time. The length of time it takes for your beer to carbonate will be the most drop in flavor.

After that it will continue to drop in flavor for a bit longer but again reduce over time to negligible levels. I would try it after a few months and see if it still retains that flavor you want. If it doesn’t try adding more fruit to keep that deep flavor longer.

Adding Fruit to Mash

If you are an all grain brewer you may even have more control of how deep of flavor and aroma you want in your beer. I’ve made a pumpkin beer using this method and it turned out excellent.

When adding fruit to mash you might not get the deep flavor as much as you want. So this makes it a bit trickier. One interesting side affect of the pumpkin beer I made was the aroma was amazing.

Pumpkin can be added the the mash

The amazing aroma of the pumpkin beer added a depth to my beer that I loved. The problem was that the flavor did not match the aroma, it was disappointing to say the least.

While I would suggest adding fruit to the mash to get the deep aroma, it might also be beneficial to add that same fruit to the secondary.

I am currently in the process of adding peaches to my next brew. I think I will end up adding peaches to the mash along with the secondary. Hopefully not only will I get the deep cooked peach aroma, but the flavor should have a great depth as well.

Fruit in the Boil

Another way of adding fruit flavor to beer is to add it during the boil. This is probably my least favorite method of brewing with fruit. Maybe I just have not tinkered enough.

To be honest it seems like I’m wasting money and not getting the impact I want. It also tastes as if its been cooked and generally not as fresh. I think the impact overall on the profile of the beer is much greater when you add fruit to the mash. It just has a much longer time to slowly seep out the flavor profile of the fruits.

I might try to tinker with this method in the future but if you are looking for the easiest ways, I would try secondary as a number one method.


Hey, I'm the the creator of I have been brewing beer since 2013 and started by brewing in my parents home. I have written copy on numerous websites. Most notably Seeking Alpha, where I analyze small cap publicly traded companies. I have also written content for and

Recent Posts