Thursday, June 6, 2013

Mulberry DCambic Tasting

With the mulberry tree in the backyard of my DC home burdened by thousands of deep purple berries, it is time to drink a bottle of the beer I brewed with the fruit I harvested a year ago. I aged this half of my spontaneously fermented “DCambic” on a couple pounds of the often ignored forage-able fruit for nearly five months before bottling in March.

Mulberry DCambic

Appearance – What the white head lacks in retention and lacing, the body redeems with its glowing burgundy hues. Dazzlingly clear. Strikingly similar to my Cabernet sauvignon solera, just a couple shades darker.

Smell – The mulberries are prominent in the aroma, but like the raw fruit, their character isn’t particularly distinct. Jammy stone-fruit, plum especially, slightly cooked, with some earthiness too. The local flora provide some complementary aromatics, hay especially, and some indistinct citrus.

Taste – Like the clean version, the sourness is pleasant, but soft. The fruit flavor provides some sweetness and uniqueness, but also covers much of the character of the “wild” fermentation. The fermentation does show through in the finish with minerals and lemon zest. Some vanilla notes come through, despite not being aged on oak (or vanilla beans), origin unknown.

Mouthfeel – Mildly tannic, helps provide a surprising amount of body to a very low FG (1.002) beer. Solid carbonation, mildly prickly, doesn’t get in the way.

Drinkability & Notes – A really fun beer, more interesting than most of the sours I've brewed, even though you might not agree from drinking it blind. A few weeks ago I had the chance to share a bottle of it with Megan Parisi (of Bluejacket), and she enjoyed it enough to go back for seconds (with a bottle of Southampton Black Raspberry Lambic sitting open). Looking forward to drinking her beers when the brewery opens later this year!

While I enjoy this batch, I think mulberries would work even better in a beer with a more assertive malt character. They can’t carry a beer in the way raspberries or peaches can, but they’d work well at a lower rate to add complexity without overwhelming.


Mark said...

How did you approach priming the bottles for carbonation? Sounds like whatever you did worked well ... so would be interested to hear.

Unknown said...

Visually, that's a great looking beer.

Jeffrey Crane said...

I'll have to bring you a bottle of my sour brown ale with mulberries once you are out in San Diego. The slight earthiness and generic berry flavor really does work well with the bit of toasty malt the beer has.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I added sugar (boiled with a bit of water), luckily the microbes already in the beer took care of the rest. I often will add a couple grams of rehydrated wine yeast, but I wanted to keep this one 100% wild. As always, I continue to update the notes at the bottom of every recipe post to provide the specific details of my process. In this case 1.5 oz of table sugar in 2 gallons.

Looking forward to trying it Jeff!

what we’re drinking said...

Did you freeze the mulberries or toss them in fresh to see if you got any other wild yeast contributions? I can attest that a mulberry wheat beer is not the most copacetic combination.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I froze and then vacuum packed the mulberries for a few months until the base beer was ready. There aren't many "clean" fruited wheat beers I enjoy. Some acidity really helps the fruit flavor comes across nicely.

andy said...

I'm making a sour beer using Persian mulberries from a tree in my yard. These berries are one of the most intense tasting fruits with an incredible mix of super sweet and tart.

Alexicon said...

I tasted the cranberry lambic you were involved in last night at NHC Club Night here in Philly. It was awesome! The DC Homebrewers were my fav club of the night, especially the mosaic/citra pale and Eric's Brett rye Saison (my favorite beer of the night). Was the cranberry lambic part of this batch?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Glad to hear, although I can't think of what beer you could be refering to... never brewed a cranberry lambic. I don't think any of the group brewed sours have involved anyone else in DCHB either. Maybe just someone I gave advice to?