If you’ve looked at bottle shop shelves lately and noticed a preponderance of fruit (apricot wheat! grapefruit IPA! tangerine everything!), you’re not going crazy; data show that “tropical-flavored” beers were up 250 percent last year. But a smaller subset of this fruitsplosion has us totally hooked: the intersection of fruit and spice. Combining fruits like apples, apricots and pineapple with a zing from chiles and peppers yields an awesome one-two punch of summer flavor. Taste it for yourself:
DuClaw El Kabong, a pale ale brewed with apricots, chilies de arbol and ancho chilies, leads with peachlike flavor before a peppery prickle arrives late and lingers into the dry finish.
Seattle Cider Three Pepper cider marries subtly sweet apples with a trio of poblano, habanero and jalapeño peppers, creating a simultaneously sweet-and-hot harmony not unlike mango salsa.
Elysian Hawaiian Sunburn is a pineapple-habanero sour whose honeydew sweetness and flash of pineapple juice round out the beer’s underlying tartness.