When it comes to seasonal beer flavors, it’s tough to beat the tart-yet-sweet, deeply refreshing juciness of grapefruit. That’s why so many breweries use it to flavor their fruit-based beers. You’ll find it in every type of summer brew from the iconic shandy to the bitter, refreshing IPA. Not only is it likely the most popular citrus fruit to flavor beers in 2022, but it just might also be the best fruit in general to complement most beer styles. One sip and you can totally see why.
The only problem with there being so many grapefruit-based beers these days is that it takes some effort to separate the wheat from the chaff. But since I’m in the business of helping drinkers have the best possible experience, especially when it comes to craft brews, I decided to grab a handful of well-known grapefruit beers and put them through a blind taste test. While grapefruit is very popular as the main flavor for a shandy or radler, I also selected a well-known IPA, lager, wheat beer, and even a Kölsch -style beer just to get a mix of as many styles as possible.
Keep scrolling to see which beers were an abysmal disappointment and which ones you should stock up on for a crisp, refreshing, citrus-fueled summer.
- Schöfferhofer Grapefruit
- Shiner Ruby Redbird
- Great Divide Roadie
- Surly Grapefruit Supreme
- Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin IPA
- Leinenkugel’s Grapefruit Shandy
- Stiegl Grapefruit Radler
- Genesee Ruby Red Kölsch
Part 1: The Tasting
There isn’t much to say about this beer’s nose. There’s a muted grapefruit aroma, but that’s literally it. I can’t find any other scents that would make me believe I was about to drink a beer at all. On the palate, it’s surprisingly watery and fizzy, almost like seltzer water or the cheapest light beer you can imagine. There’s more grapefruit flavor here, but it tastes almost artificial.
This beer tastes like a robot (that mildly enjoys grapefruit) created a beer having never tried one before.
This beer is heavy on grapefruit aroma on the nose. But there’s also tangerine, lemon, and a light, floral, hoppy bitterness. The palate is slightly tart with sweet, pulpy grapefruit, light pale malts, freshly baked bread yeast, more citrus zest, and gentle bitterness at the finish.
It’s crisp, refreshing, and highly crushable on a hot day.
Normally, I don’t notice the color, but this beer looks like grapefruit soda. The smell is all citrus peel and ripe grapefruit. Anything else is overpowered. Tasting it, I could have sworn that someone changed out one of the beers for Squirt soda or something similar. It doesn’t even taste like beer a little bit.
From my notes: “Must be a shandy or radler!”
Ruby red grapefruit, bread-like malts, slight spices, tropical fruits, and bright, aromatic pine are present on the nose. The flavor is loaded with citrus flavors like tart grapefruit, tangerine juice, and lime, plus wet grass, freshly baked bread, and a healthy kick of bitter, resinous pine that brings everything together.
Citrus rind, lemon, grapefruit, and orange zest are scents swirling around this beer’s nose. On the palate, I found flavors of tart, slightly bitter grapefruit, bread-like malts, more citrus zest, and a slightly hoppy, bitter finish that brings all the flavors together. All in all, a good beer for fans of tart, slightly fruity beers.
The nose is a mix of citrus zest, grapefruit pulp, and biscuit-like malts. That doesn’t seem like a lot of aromas, but when it comes to a fruit beer, it’s notable. Some are more one-dimensional. Drinking it brings forth more tart, ripe grapefruit as well as light yeast, cracker-like malts, and just a hint of pleasing bitterness at the finish.
All in all, a decent, citrus-filled beer.
The nose is heavy on grapefruit essence. It smells like you just cut into a grapefruit on Saturday morning. Still there is a slight wheat and even cereal grain aroma behind it that makes you remember it’s a beer. Sipping it revealed more sweet wheat, light caramel malts, and a healthy dollop of tart, sweet, grapefruit.
Overall, a fairly one-dimensional beer. But not terrible.
Tangerine, grapefruit, and other citrus aromas met my nose before my first sip. Very heavy on the citrus and not much else. The palate is a mix of sweetness and tart flavor with grapefruit taking center stage. There are really no other discernable flavors. It’s refreshing, light, and crushable. It just doesn’t taste a lot like beer.
From my notes: “Another radler?”
Part 2: The Ranking
8) Schöfferhofer Grapefruit (Taste 3)
Average Price: $8.99 for a six-pack
When I think of grapefruit beer, Schöfferhofer is the first beer that immediately comes to mind. Maybe because this beer with its pink hue and over-the-top grapefruit flavor barely resembles a beer at all. That being said, it’s a refreshing, summery, fruity beer that has countless fans.
Schöfferhofer Grapefruit supposedly is a mix of wheat beer and grapefruit juice, but it just tastes like grapefruit soda. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re probably not a big fan of beer anyway.
7) Shiner Ruby Redbird (Taste 1)
Average Price: $9.50 for a six-pack
Beer fans know Texas’ Shiner for its iconic Bock. But they’re probably not on the lookout for a low-calories grapefruit beer. But that’s exactly what Shiner Ruby Redbird is. It’s a light lager (only 95 calories) that’s brewed with ruby red grapefruit and ginger. It’s available year-round for drinkers who are into those kinds of flavors.
If you’re a fan of Shiner Bock, don’t opt for this low-cal, low-ABV beer instead. You’ll be really unhappy you did. I’ve had hard seltzers that taste more like beer than this one.
6) Leinenkugel’s Grapefruit Shandy (Taste 7)
Average Price: $8.99 for a six-pack
Leinenkugel’s is fairly well-known for its shandies. Its Summer Shandy is its most beloved, but there is a slew of other fruit flavors available as well. This includes Leinenkugel’s Grapefruit Shandy. It begins as the brewery’s Weiss beer and natural white grapefruit flavor are added to it to give it a citrus zing.
Leinenkugel’s Grapefruit Shandy isn’t trying to be something it’s not. It’s a citrusy, grapefruit-filled wheat beer that is a little too much for some drinkers. But shandy fans will love it.
5) Stiegl Grapefruit Radler (Taste 8)
Average Price: $10.50 for a four-pack of 16.9-ounce cans
Ask any brewer or bartender to tell you the best grapefruit beer and you’ll have quite a few bringing up Stiegl Grapefruit Radler. This highly crushable, 2.5%, cloudy beer is made with real grapefruit juice mixed with beer to create one of the most popular citrus beers of all time.
I wasn’t surprised to learn this was Stiegl Grapefruit Radler. It’s one of the lowest ABV beers on this list and tastes exactly like you assume it would. More like a hard grapefruit soda than a beer.
4) Great Divide Roadie (Taste 6)
Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack
Great Divide Roadie is a beer that’s specifically designed to be brought on a hike or long bike ride. It’s a low in alcohol (4.2%) ale brewed with natural grapefruit puree. The result is a Radler-style beer that’s an easy-to-drink mix of sweetness and tart citrus flavor.
Great Divide Roadie is a Radler, but instead of being one-dimensional and all grapefruit, it actually has some substance. It’s still a little too fruit-heavy for my liking, but it’s headed in the right direction.
3) Surly Grapefruit Supreme (Taste 5)
Average Price: $13.99 for a six-pack
With a name like Surly Grapefruit Supreme, you should have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting into when you crack one open. This 4.5% tart ale is brewed with Pilsner, Acidulated, and Carafoam malts, unmalted wheat, and Warrior hops. Grapefruit gives it a tart, refreshing flavor.
Surly Grapefruit Supreme is exactly what its label suggests and that’s definitely not a bad thing. It’s a slightly tart ale with a broad spectrum of citrus flavors. It has a decent hop flavor as well.
2) Genesee Ruby Red Kölsch (Taste 2)
Average Price: $9.99 for a twelve-pack
When it comes to spring beers from Genesee (makers of the iconic Cream Ale), there are many as eagerly awaited at Ruby Red Kolsch. Available from March through August, this German-inspired beer combines a classic Kölsch-style beer with ruby red grapefruit flavors.
Kölsch is one of the most popular warm-weather beers so it should come as no surprise that adding grapefruit flavor is only going to heighten the experience. If grapefruit is your jam, this is a can’t miss summer beer.
1) Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin IPA (Taste 4)
Average Price: $13.99 for a six-pack
Ballast Point Sculpin IPA is one of the highest-rated, most beloved IPAs of all time. But if you prefer your IPA to have even more citrus flavor, you’ll opt for a Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin. This 7% ABV West Coast IPA already leans in on its bitterness and the addition of tart, tangy grapefruit only adds to the experience.
You’d have a difficult time finding a more well-balanced grapefruit beer than Ballast Point Sculpin. It’s piney, tart, slightly bitter, and perfect for a hot, hazy day.
Part 3: Final Thoughts
After this blind taste test, it’s obvious there are two different kinds of grapefruit beers and they appeal to two different types of beer drinkers. One is sweet, one-dimensional, crushable, and heavy on grapefruit and not much else. The other is complex, well-balanced, and uses grapefruit to complement other flavors.
There’s a place for both in the beer marketplace, though you can obviously see my preference!