Give Dogfish Head credit for bringing it into the mainstream. Debuting last March was Slightly Mighty Lo-Cal IPA, brewed with monk-fruit extract. At 4 percent ABV and 3.6 grams of carbohydrates per 12 ounces, it is fermented down to the bone, with nary a sugar left. The monk-fruit extract balances that out with a bit of sweetness and body. Dogfish Head says it uses a proprietary enzyme process to break down the fruit for use in Slightly Mighty.
Another brewery that’s been using monk fruit in some form is Weld-Werks in Greeley, Colorado. Their Fit Bits is a slimmer-but-still-juicy take on their popular Juicy Bits hazy IPA. Neil Fisher, co-owner and head brewer, says that they like monk fruit because it has a unique fruit flavor that adds something beyond simple sweetness.
“We’re using it in the juice-concentrate form, which from our trials has the most flavor and aroma,” he says. “But it doesn’t have the same sweetness potency as some of the powdered products.”
Fisher says that WeldWerks uses glucoamylase for higher attenuation in Fit Bits, which can reach a gravity at or below 1.000. “So, we use the monk fruit to build back in sweetness and body,” he says.
How much to use in your beer? That’s difficult to say, since there are a range of products available that differ in potency. The best advice might be to see what you can find locally, then test tiny measurements in a known volume of finished beer. Consider how it affects the taste, aroma, and body. When you find the right ratio, scale it up.
As more commercial breweries try it out, it’s inevitable that homebrewers will tinker, too. Given where food and drink trends are headed, interest will certainly continue to rise in “lifestyle beers”—especially if tasty and flavorful beers can be packed into lower-calorie, lower-carb frames without much loss of character.