Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cherry Doppelbock

I have been a bit lax with my brewing lately, so for this week here is a recipe from my pre-Mad Fermentationist vaults.

Long ago (well not that long ago, but more than a year before I started this blog) I brewed a batch of cherry doppelbock. The idea for the beer was inspired by a nip bottle of Kuhnhenn's Raspberry Eisbock that I got in a trade. It was a beautiful beer, rich, sweet, jammy, and complex.

The base beer for my attempt was based on a Mike McDole Eisbock, and the idea to use cherries was based on a note in Radical Brewing that cherries were popular in German Bocks before the Reinheitsgebot (which among many other things forbade the use of fruit in brewing) enveloped the country.

Since I was adding the cherries in the middle of winter using fresh was not an option. To try to get a balanced fruit character I went with four different forms of cherry: Oregon puree, sour cherry juice, dried cherries caramelized in port, and cherries packed in water (from Trader Joe's). Combined they did a pretty good job giving a balanced cherry character, and the bit of cooked flavor actually worked well with the dark malt.

I waxed the tops of the bottles, it really makes opening a bottle feel like a bigger event. The bottle wax that many homebrew stores sell is the best way to go (1 lb is about enough for 1,000 bottles, so pick a color you really like), don't try to use paraffin as it is very hard to remove if you want to reuse the bottles. Just melt the wax beads in the microwave (in an old coffee mug or something that you won't mind staining) and then just dip the bottle tops into the wax, repeat after it hardens (which should only take a few seconds) for a thicker coating.

Cherryator (Cherry Doppelbock) Tasting 8/16/09

Appearance – Nearly opaque, dark brown, with just a hint of amber when held to the light (surprising not to see much red). The light tan head isn't big, but the retention is great.

Smell – At first I get sweet cherries, but the deep brown-sugary malt quickly takes over. It used to be much more fruit forward in its youth. There is a hint of oxidized malt, but considering this beer is pushing four years old it is in pretty good shape (I really think the cherries' antioxidants helped).

Taste – The slightly tart cherry twang is present balancing the potent sweetness (not to say that it isn't still almost cloyingly sweet). The finish is lightly roasted coffee and caramel (the roast character is not common in German Doppelbocks, I was probably too heavy handed with the Carafa). There is a deep bready/malty character from the Munich malt and to a lesser extent the decoction mash. The alcohol is completely hidden behind the malt/fruit sweetness (FG was ~1.034).

Mouthfeel – Rich and thick, moderate-low carbonation works well with the malt sweetness.

Drinkability & Notes – A great dessert beer, disturbingly easy to drink (even on a hot August evening), it has held up well considering I brewed it in 2005. The only batch that I still have bottles of that is older than this is a double-saison that was brewed in September 2005, but it is not very good (too much dried ginger).


Recipe Specifics (All-Grain)
Batch Size (Gal): 5.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 17.33
Anticipated OG: 1.100
Anticipated SRM: 21.8
Anticipated IBU: 23.7
Brewhouse Efficiency: 80 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

12.00 lbs. Munich Malt
2.00 lbs. Vienna Malt
1.00 lbs. CaraPils
1.00 lbs. Flaked Soft White Wheat
1.00 lbs. Rye Malt
0.33 lbs. Carafa

1.50 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfruh @ First Wort Hop
0.25 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfruh @ 85 min.
0.50 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfruh @ 10 min.

8.00 Oz Cherries Caramelized in port
32.00 Oz Sour Cherry Juice
3.00 Lbs Oregon Cherry Puree
12 oz Cherries Packed in Water

WYeast 2206 Bavarian Lager

Mash Schedule
Dough In 20 min @ 95
Protein Rest 120 min @ 122 (Infusion)
Sacc Rest 75 min @ 152 (Decoction)
Mash Out 15 min @ 167 (Decoction)

Brewed 11/5/05 OG 1.100, 1/2 lbs rice hulls stirred in at mashout. 8 oz dried sour cherries boiled with Port in a frying pan until almost dry then added at flameout. Wort cooled to 55 then pitched with a decanted 5 qrt starter.

12/2/05 Ramped up to room temp (~65) for a diacetyl rest.

12/6/05 1.040, transferred onto the rest of the cherries (1 can Oregon puree and 1 can TJ's cherries in water and the sour cherry juice).

1/2/06 1.039, racked off cherries to lager

Slow 2 week drop to 30 degrees

4/7/06 1.034, and pretty tasty

4/23/06 Bottled with a fresh pack of 2206 and 2 1/8 oz of corn sugar.

5/7/06 Minimal carbonation, moved to furnace room and agitated to get yeast moving.

5/22/06 Fully carbonated, cherries taste processed. Solid, but not much complexity apparent. Beer moved to fridge for further conditioning.

8/6/06 Cherry flavor has mellowed and improved, turned out to be a very tasty beer. Over time a mild sourness from the cherries emerged which is a nice counterpoint to the thick sweet malt.

Next Time: Fresh cherries (mix of sweet and sour). Simpler grainbill, drop the carapils and rye. Decoction may not be necessary because the cherries prevent the malt from really being showcased. Drop the last hop addition (no hop aroma after long aging).


Anonymous said...

My mouth is seriously watering reading about this beer and it is not even noon yet! Sounds amazing!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I'm down to my last bottle of it, I'll probably break it out at a tasting this winter.

Dan said...

I'd say just go with 60/40 Munich to Vienna. Why did you use Hallertau as a FWH? It seems like one bittering addition would be sufficient with a malty, fruity beer.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

IIRC New Lager Brewing suggests that adding a small dose of hops FWH to help reduce boil-overs is traditional in Germany. Agreed on dropping the late additions, no need in a beer like this.

Why do you suggest 60/40 Munich/Vienna? This one certainly isn't too melanoidin rich.

Scott said...

Another great one Mike...

Do you have a feel (or know) how much the cherries added to your alcohol %. I'm crafting up something very similar to this and trying to figure out which route to go with the cherries and how to account for their contribution to the final ABV.

As far as bottling yeast - I'm leaning towards a dried champagne or wine yeast as well vs. another pack of the bavarian. Any comments/thoughts/input?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The cherries almost certainly subtracted from the alcohol content of this batch. That is because they added a higher proportion of water to fermentable sugar than the original wort contained. The dried cherries certainly boosted the abv because they have had their water removed, but any other form (fresh, juice, puree) is going to have all that water in addition to the sugar. That said I wouldn’t expect the drop to be more than .5% since the cherries are such a small portion of the volume.

For example adding .5 gallons of 1.050 fruit juice to 4.5 gallons of 1.100 wort would yield a combined gravity of 1.095. Even assuming that the cherries are more fermentable than the wort, they would have to be twice as fermentable just to hold the abv constant.

You shouldn’t have a problem adding champagne yeast for carbonation as long as the primary yeast didn’t stop because of alcohol tolerance (the residual sugars would lead to over-carbonation).

Hope that helps, good luck on your brew.

Erik said...

On a tangential note if you were say brewing 5 gallons of American Wheat that you intended to rack onto cherries in secondary would you use a similar combination of juice and frozen cherries or would you just go with frozen cherries. Thoughts on the total weight of the cherries to be used? Thank you very much.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

With lighter, brighter beers I like fresh/frozen fruit. Frozen sour cherries would be really nice, the right juice could work (taste it and see if it has a flavor you want in your beer). Some have more of a cooked flavor. Amount is really to taste, .5-1 lbs per gallon for a light flavor, more for more!