Monday, August 10, 2009

Fruited Sour Beers

Despite not doing much actual summertime brewing, this time of year my thoughts always turn to adding fruit to aging sour beers. I love the way the acidity of the beer brings out the fruit character in a way that no other base beer can. Here is a brief update on a few of my fruited sours.

Today I added 5 lbs of (sliced and lightly mashed) white peaches from the farmer's market to about 2 gallons of my Honey-Wheat sour. Originally I was planning on adding some flowers to that batch before bottling, but after waiting 6 months I decided fresh peaches sounded like a much better idea (it is hard to say "no" to beautiful fresh fruit). I have always heard that peaches don't work great in beer, but having tried the delicious Festina Lente from Dogfish Head and the tasty Eric's Ale from New Belgium (and hearing my friend Dyan rave about Lost Abbey's Yellow Bus) I just had to give it a try for myself.

Half of my Lambic 2.0 from last summer has been sitting on a combo of dark cherries and raspberries for the last month or so. I racked the 2.5 gallons of beer onto 18 oz of raspberries and 2 lbs of cherries which had been frozen for about 24 hours. I am hoping that the fruit's acidity and the renewed fermentation from the sugar add a bit more tang since the base beer doesn't have quite enough sourness for my taste. I will be aiming to bottle that one in a couple months depending on how it is tasting and if the gravity drops back down close to 1.000.

Over the weekend I bottled my Cabernet spiked Berliner Weiss. Hopefully it carbonates soon because that is exactly what I should be drinking now that it finally feels like summer here in DC. The beer was a nice deep cranberry-red in the fermenter, but looks decidedly more pale in the sample tube.

I also have 5 lbs of sour cherries vaccu-packed in my freezer. Some of them will go into a portion of the Wine Barrel Flanders Red that should be ready to go in a couple months, and I am thinking about doing another version of my Cuvee Tomme clone in the fall.

I am about to buy a house, so my brewing/posting may not be on quite the pace after the closing later this month. That said, once I get settled in I finally have a yard (plus a basement and a garage), so I'll be brewing outside, and have more room for aging beers, cheese, charcuterie, and other fun projects.


Jeff said...

Congrats on the home, it will make brewing and life so much more enjoyable.

I just racked about 1.5 gallons of a big Golden Strong onto 3# of dark sweet cherries. I really want to make a lambic in the near future and age some with apricots. What do you think of a Bier de Garde with raspberries?

Tim said...

How do you determine the rate of fruit to add? You seem to have a big range of just over 1 lbs/gal to over 2.5 lbs/gal, which exceeds even Cantillon's standard 2.4 lbs/gal. I have 5 gallons of raspberry and plum sour that has 1 lbs/gal. I wanted to add more but the cost would have been too much.

Congratulations on the house. It would be great to have all the brewing and storage space. I'm envious as I'm about to go from a cramped Cambridge apartment to an even more cramped Cambridge apartment.

-- said...

Cheers on the basement and garage upgrade. Scoring a house with a garage let me get more serious about homebrewing.

more space = more brew

Seawolf said...

I forgot to ask when I saw you last, but where is the house you're buying?

Also, what do I have here, in a bottle that reads "OPA"?


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I think raspberries might be too assertive for a beer de garde, I’d be worried they’d cover up that complex earthy/malty base beer. I’m sure it would still be tasty (I would go light, like ~.5 lbs/gallon), but I would lean towards something more subtle like apple or pear.

How much fruit I use is based on a couple of factors. The biggest is the variety of fruit, something like raspberries are much more potent than peaches. The type of beer and my goal for it is another big factor, if you want a powerful fruit character in a big/dark beer you would add a lot more fruit than if you were looking for a hint of fruit in a small/pale beer. Other things to consider include the form of fruit (whole, puree, juice, dried, frozen etc…), quality, and planned exposure time.

If you are making a lot of fruit beer you can add all of the fruit to say 1/3 of the batch, let it ferment out, and then blend it with the plain beer getting exactly the amount of fruit character you are looking for.

OPA – is the oatmeal pale with palisade hops. Thanks again for all the great food/beer at your housewarming.

Thanks for all the “congrats” on the new place, it is in the Takoma Park section of DC. Looking forward to putting all of that space to good use (keggerator, barrels, bottles, fermenters, new gear etc…). I am particularly excited after learning my next door neighbor is Belgian.

Dan said...

The Flander's is going to be ready in a couple months? Hell yeah!

Seawolf said...

We lucked out with our neighbors. On one side, we have a nice Ethiopian family, and on the other, a police officer who happens to be a really nice guy with a nice family, and a great neighbor.

No, thank you for coming and bringing so many great beers! It was great to meet your lady and catch up a bit with you.

I can't believe it's almost been a year since we filled that barrel!! I suppose we should start thinking about our next sour beer.


jemphd said...

House = perpetual project; house + homebrewing = perpetual goodness Congratulations, Mike!

Unknown said...

Making my first Flanders Brown. I have completed the primary fermentation (10 Gal) of a Brown Ale and have racked it into plastic buckets with air locks, added Roselare yeast, which I will keep to 3 months, then transfer to carboys to finish off for the next 7-12 months. I would like to add fruit to 3 gals - when do I add the fruit. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

By the way - I just bought 2 of the beaker/beer shirts. Very Cool

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Cheers! I find it easiest to rack half onto fruit when I bottle the rest. Then 6-10 weeks later you can bottle the fruited portion. That ensures that the fruit flavor is really fresh when you are enjoying the beer!