Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Passion Fruit Sour Wheat Beer

The inside of a passionfruit by Alexander Klink
Attribution: Alexander Klink
The inside of a passionfruit
Creative Commons 3.0 Unported
Passion fruit is one of the few fruits that is almost always used as a flavoring rather than consumed straight; passion fruit mousse being the classic example. This is largely because it has an potent flavor and loads of seeds.

I was at the supermarket a couple months ago and happened to see fresh passion fruit for $3 each. Many brewers (and chefs) skip the actual fruit and opt for purée, but I bought two with no plan of what I'd make with them.

I’m certainly not the first brewer to add passion fruit to beer, I've enjoyed Breakside Passionfruit Sour, Jolly Pumpkin-Maui Brewing Sobrehumano Palena’ole, and Tired Hands’ Such Passion (Simcoe IPA "Conditioned on heaps of passion fruit purée"). J. Wakefield Brewing's neon-pink Dragon Fruit Passion Fruit Berliner gets plenty of hype, although I’ve yet to try it.

When I got home and opened one of them, that pervasive tropical aroma reminded me that I had a gallon of leftover base sour beer from Atomic Apricot. I scooped the pulpy interiors, seeds and all, into the jug for infusion.

Passion Fruit Sour Wheat

Appearance – After a few cloudy but delicious beer reviews, I thought it was time for something a bit more visually transparent. Faint haze, but I’ll take that in exchange for the beautiful head retention (thanks to both wheat flour and pre-acidification of the wort).

Pretty Passion Fruit Sour Wheat!Smell – The passion fruit comes through nicely, although nothing approaching the intensity of the apricot (which was over 2 lbs/gallon). The Brett doesn’t come through distinctly, a hint of rubber behind the fruit. Glad I added the fruit, it shines on a bland canvas.

Taste – Bright lactic-citric acidity, much mellower than the apricot. Nice tropical fruitiness, but I could see doubling it to four passion fruits per gallon. Beyond the fruit and acidity not an especially interesting beer. Maybe a hint of pale maltiness. The ECY Dirty Dozen seems reliable for primary fermentation, but sadly having 12 Brett strains didn't provide 12 times the aromatic complexity.

Mouthfeel – Light and crisp, but not thin and watery as even my favorite Berliners can be. Carbonation could be a notch higher, but I didn’t want to risk gushers.

Drinkability & Notes – A fun gallon of beer, glad I answered the calling of the eternal thought “I could ferment that!” I have the yeast/bacteria I harvested from this batch at work in something resembling a Berliner weisse with oat malt; it will be interested to see how it does as a mixed rather than staggered fermentation. Chad Yakobson's research suggests Brett produces less of several interesting esters when starting at a low pH, so that may account for the blandness.


Gilas said...

Hi Mike, did put the fruit through some sort of sanitation before adding to the beer?

Rye guy said...

Not to speak on MF's behalf but I can almost guarantee the answer is 'no.' No need for sanitation with a sour beer as it is already "contaminated" with the bacteria one would be trying to get rid of on the fruit, not to mention that the fruit is going into a finished beer with alcohol and pH that make it inhospitable for anything nasty to flourish. Just wash it with water and or freeze (or in this case scoop out the pulp which further removes the need for sanitizing).

I'm wondering how long you had the beer conditioning with the passionfruit? It's a little hard to tell from what you wrote if it was 2 months or less?
Thanks : )

Brent said...

What type of vessel are you using for the infusion? I assume that 1 gallon of beer plus 1-2 lbs of fruit would leave you a lot of unwanted headspace in a 3 gallon carboy, but there doesn't seem to be much out there to fill the gap between 1 and 3 gallon fermenters.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Rye Guy is exactly right, sour beers have most of the common spoilage microbes already present, no worries about sanitizing fruit. Even for a clean beer, given that the flesh of the passion fruit is inside, I wouldn't be too worried about adding it directly. Although that is another reason that many craft brewers turn to aseptic purees!

I did a crappy job on notes for this one, as it was a bit of a side-project, but I bottled it a bit shy of two months after adding the fruit.

The beer was aged in a 4L jug. The interiors of two passion fruits can't be more than a few ounces total.

EasternPlains said...

The base beer was soured with a sour mash technique. It has no bugs in the final product. He did add Brett, but no souring bacteria.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

That's not quite correct. I gave the Lacto a head start by 24 hours over the Brett, but didn't pasteurize after souring.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

That's not quite correct. I gave the Lacto a head start by 24 hours over the Brett, but didn't pasteurize after souring.

J. Karanka said...

Is $3 a passionfruit a typo or should you start farming them? :D. In the UK you get a couple for that price but I've also picked them growing over suburban garden fences (and the weather is cold and wet here). I'd assume you could grow them very well in many parts of the USA.