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Grapefruit Beers: The Next Cocktail Ingredient

Each hoppy take on this tart fruit is delicious beer in its own right. Added to hoptails, however, and you have an explosion of flavours.

Beer may seem an unlikely ingredient in a well-crafted cocktail, but no matter the style, be it porters or pale ales, lagers or stouts, beer does work incredibly well in mixed drinks. Pint of ale-tini anyone?

Rocketing onto menus in the last five years, the trend has really burgeoned thanks to the range of beers available and niche categories within styles of beer. Indian Pale Ales and American Pale Ales have become hoppier while porters and stouts have become darker, creating flavours which can stand up in a cocktail. But what of the grapefruit IPA?

IPAs work wonderfully with that extra citrus flavour, already having a backbone that is zesty and zippy. Increasingly, brewers are embellishing these beers with actual zest, peel or juice from grapefruits, and other citruses, to create bright, citrus flavour bombs ideal for both hopheads and lovers of fruit beer. And, unsurprisingly, these beers work wonders in cocktails, used to lengthen anything from a Tom Collins to an Americano.

Hoptails aren’t exactly the latest trend to sweep mixology, although modern bartenders have certainly refined and vastly improved them. As a nation the Brits have been imbibing beer concoctions for centuries. Medieval recipes saw unhopped ales combined with roasted apples, sugar and milk or spices whereas classic flips in the 1700s used rum, hot ale and sugar, sometimes with cream and eggs. Possibly one of Britain’s best known mixes is the simple half-stout half-Champagne Black Velvet which was all the rage in Victorian London.

Thankfully the times have greatly improved and today’s cocktails are as far from half-beer topped with more alcohol or sugary gun lemonade as they possibly could be. Bartenders now understand that incorporating beer into their cocktails creates drinks with astounding aromatics and texture.

Or as Oskar Kinberg, director of the bar at Dabbous, says “beer is great to do drinks with. Use it either as a lengthener with more substance than say soda or lemonade, or base your drink entirely around the flavours of a specific beer. Hoppy beers work great with floral ingredients such as elderflower or nettle. Wheat beer works great with citrus and spice. Beer dries out a drink that's too sweet by adding bitterness and body. It is also a great "gateway" cocktail for people who usually just drink beers.”

Great cocktails which work wonders with a grapefruit flavoured beer include the Paloma, the Lagerita, a Collins, a grapefruit Americano and a twisted Negroni Sbagliato. Take away the soda or fizzy wine and replace it with a citrus beer and you'll find a cocktail with added depth, texture and flavour. 

Here are our recommended grapefruit beers:


Tailgate Beer - Grapefruit IPA: This West Coast IPA has strong floral notes of lemon, grass and mango. The brewers have generously add grapefruit to this beer for a pungent, citrus kick. 


Ballast Point - Grapefruit Sculpin​: The latest take on Ballast Point's signature IPA,the tart freshness of grapefruit perfectly complements the IPA’s citrusy hop character. Grapefruit’s a winter fruit, but this easy-drinking ale tastes like summer.


Magic Rock Brewing - High Wire Grapefruit: This is a fruit-infused version of Magic Rock Brewing's best-selling West Coast pale ale. They've accentuated the original beer’s malt body and citrus character with the addition of 100% natural pink grapefruit flavour. Juicy, tart and deliciously refreshing.


Brew Dog - Elvis Juice: An American IPA with a bitter edge that will push your citrus tolerance to the brink and back; Elvis Juice is loaded with tart pithy grapefruit peel. This IPA has a caramel malt base, supporting a full frontal citrus overload - grapefruit peel piled on top of intense us aroma hops. Waves of crashing pine, orange and grapefruit round out this citrus infused IPA.


Samual Admas - Rebel Grapefruit IPA: This is the newest addition to the Rebel family of IPAs, which is brewed with real grapefruit for a big punch of citrus that amplifies the tropical fruit and citrus notes of one of the Sam Adams brewers’ favorite West Coast hops, Mosaic.