Author Topic: Using sweet cherries  (Read 2274 times)

Offline jmwrightmegg

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Using sweet cherries
« on: October 08, 2012, 05:31:20 PM »
OK, I know cherries are the subject of many threads, but I haven't seen a good answer to this question:
"I have a lot of sweet bing cherries in my freezer and want to make a cherry beer without waiting the requisite year for a lambic or other long-production style.  What can I do with them (12 pounds)?  Is it a waste of beautiful sweet cherries to try to make a quicker beer?  Should I just make cherry pie?"

Offline mpietropaoli

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Re: Using sweet cherries
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2012, 05:44:25 PM »
I would certainly reserve some for a pie! 

Jamil said in one of the podcasts (I think on Baltic Porter) that cherries are one of the harder fruits to work with.  You either have the problem of driving off too many volatiles by adding during the late stages of primary fermentation, or if you add them too late, they can sometimes just taste funny.  What many say works best with fruit is too add them after primary fermentation has completed, and to SUPPLEMENT with the same fruit extract at bottling/kegging, or slightly before.  If I were you, I would do the following:

Select a style -- I believe that american wheats and porters are several styles that work better than others with cherries.  I'm not sure if its sour or sweet (or if it matters).  Add 6 lbs of them to your batch of whatever you make after primary fermentation.  If you can puree them after thawing, do that to add surface area and pulverize the skins (sanitize your blender/food processor, though the alcohol in the beer at that point will be helpful in staving off bugs/bacteria from taking hold/multiplying).  Wait another few weeks (order some cherry extract in the meantime), let them ferment out and taste it. 

This is the best part:  draw about 8 ounces of the beer, and separate into 4 glasses.  Dose each one with increasing amounts of the extract and taste each one, clearing your palette in between (it helps to have some additional palettes/pieholes around).  Then scale it up to the amount of beer remaining prior to kegging/bottling. 

Then, once its carbed, send me a six pack.
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Offline jmwrightmegg

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Re: Using sweet cherries
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2012, 06:14:09 PM »
I would certainly reserve some for a pie! 

Jamil said in one of the podcasts (I think on Baltic Porter) that cherries are one of the harder fruits to work with.  You either have the problem of driving off too many volatiles by adding during the late stages of primary fermentation, or if you add them too late, they can sometimes just taste funny.  What many say works best with fruit is too add them after primary fermentation has completed, and to SUPPLEMENT with the same fruit extract at bottling/kegging, or slightly before.  If I were you, I would do the following:

Select a style -- I believe that american wheats and porters are several styles that work better than others with cherries.  I'm not sure if its sour or sweet (or if it matters).  Add 6 lbs of them to your batch of whatever you make after primary fermentation.  If you can puree them after thawing, do that to add surface area and pulverize the skins (sanitize your blender/food processor, though the alcohol in the beer at that point will be helpful in staving off bugs/bacteria from taking hold/multiplying).  Wait another few weeks (order some cherry extract in the meantime), let them ferment out and taste it. 

This is the best part:  draw about 8 ounces of the beer, and separate into 4 glasses.  Dose each one with increasing amounts of the extract and taste each one, clearing your palette in between (it helps to have some additional palettes/pieholes around).  Then scale it up to the amount of beer remaining prior to kegging/bottling. 

Then, once its carbed, send me a six pack.

I'm just concerned that I am wasting my expensive cherries.  I don't know if there is much character extracted from them.  Maybe adding fresh cherries is just a really expensive way of adding sugar to a recipe.  Would I get approximately the same result just using extract?

Offline corkybstewart

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Re: Using sweet cherries
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2012, 06:40:09 PM »
I added 2 pounds of cherries to a Belgian Blonde in secondary and let them sit several months, the cherry taste is there but it is thin and watery,  I added crabapples to the other 5 gallons of that batch, it made a wonderful tart, apple tasting beer, far better than the cherry version.  I'd save your cherries for pies.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2012, 07:12:34 PM by corkybstewart »
I'd really just rather be brewing in sunny Carlsbad New Mexico

Offline lornemagill

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Re: Using sweet cherries
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2012, 06:43:50 PM »
cherry pits add their own flavor and astringency.  the pits can be poisonous in large amount due to cyanide, they taste almond like.  so no not just a sugar addition.

Offline snowtiger87

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Re: Using sweet cherries
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2012, 12:18:18 PM »
I have made a sweet cherry Imperial Stout a few times now. It is my wife's favorite beer. 12 lbs would be about right for 5 gallons. They give a good base cherry flavor. I would freeze them, thaw them out, then add to the secondary. I also suppliment the cherry flavor with extract to taste before packaging.
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Offline tom

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Re: Using sweet cherries
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2012, 12:52:51 PM »
how about a mead?
Brew on

Offline mihalybaci

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Re: Using sweet cherries
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2012, 01:14:48 PM »
Bell's Brewing in Michigan makes a pretty nice cherry stout, so that's one option.