Ask Mr. Wizard

Pineapple Brewing


Steve Schalekamp • Seattle, Washington asks,

I would like to make a Pineapple hefeweizen but can’t find any recipes using pineapple. Is there something about the enzymes in pineapple (the ones that make it a good meat tenderizer) that prevent it from being a good beer additive? Also, I keg my homebrews; I was wondering about the best way to bottle small amounts from the keg for transport to a party without losing all the carbonation in the process? Should I hyper-carbonate prior to bottling?


I am a little less adventurous when it comes to adding anything but malt, hops, yeast and water to my hefeweizen recipes. Maybe this stems from latent memories of a server explaining to the president of my company that our hefeweizen was flavored with banana liqueur. I am sure if Bobby had discussed the possibility of using pineapple in weizen, he would have been sure our weizen would have had some pineapple puree tucked away in the formulation.

Pineapple does contain the protease bromelain (actually a term used to describe two proteolytic enzymes belonging to the sulfhydryl protease group). The name bromelain comes from the fact that the pineapple is the fruit of a particular type of bromeliad plant. Protease enzymes can cause problems for beer and there is a real history behind this allegation.

Another plant protease is papain, from the papaya fruit. Some brewers used papain in the past to help prevent chill haze, but one of the downsides was a reduction in foam quality. If the beer is pasteurized soon after the addition of papain, the foam damaging results can be minimized; that is if the pasteurization treatment is intensive enough to denature all enzyme present.

I would not shy away from using pineapple, however. If you choose to use canned pineapple you should be free of bromelain because the heat treatment used for canning is far more extreme than that required for enzyme denaturation. Pasteurized pineapple juice could work, or if you want to use fresh fruit you could heat treat your own fresh fruit or juice.

Other fruits with proteolytic enzymes include papaya (the source of papain, the enzyme in most meat tenderizers), figs (source of ficin), and kiwi (source of actinidin). It looks like there is a pattern here . . . tropical fruits often contain proteases.

If you want to take small samples of your hefeweizen mit ananas (weizen with pineapple translated into German at least sounds less frutti tutti) from a keg to another location I would suggest using a growler like those used by so many brewpubs across the country. I personally don’t like growlers for anything other than near-immediate use since beer will lose some carbonation, pick up some air and will oxidize relatively quickly after filling. Beer in a growler that was bottled a few days ago is too old for my fussy palate.

If you want to do something different you could buy or build a counter-pressure filler for bottles or buy a very small keg that you can fill under pressure and dispense using a small carbon dioxide bottle like those used for old-fashioned soda bottles.


Response by Ashton Lewis.