Author Topic: Bottling with juice/syrup  (Read 1736 times)

Offline unclebrazzie

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Bottling with juice/syrup
« on: September 29, 2015, 11:23:48 AM »

I have about 1 kg of sea buck thorn in the freezer. I brewed a red ale-ish beer the other day, which I just racked onto about 300g of thawed frozen sea buck thorn berries. I'm giving this a few more weeks to see what the berries contribute to the beer. Possibly dry-hop for the final week with something juicy-fruity; Azacca most likely.

I've always been interested in using alternative sources for bottling sugar. In the past, I experimented with molasses (ok but sluggish and definitely not something for every beer) and citrus-zeste-infused sugar. Now, I intend to use sea buck thorn juice, possibly "syrupified" bu adding extra sugar to the boiling juice.

Anyone have any experience in using juice and/or syrup as a bottling/priming agent? The goal here is two-fold:
  • use a flavouring agent for bottling
  • not end up with berry-flavoured bottle bombs

Assuming the sugar is mostly fructose, and that this will ferment "like" sucrose, I need to determine the SG of the juice, and adjust until I reach the desired number of gravity points as indicated by whatever priming calculator I end up using.

So, assuming I'd normally need 84 grams of sucrose to bring 15 liters of 16°C  beer to 2.2 volumes of CO2, I could use a 1.030 SG juice like this:

84 grams of sucrose at 46 ppg (or 384 pkgl) <=> 32.256 points in a 15 liter batch => 2.15 units of difference to the fermented brew.

Getting those extra 2 units from a supply of 1.030 juice instead of from sugar would come down to 66ml (30 units /1000 ml means 2 units per 66ml).

Does that make any sense at all?
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Bottling with juice/syrup
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2015, 01:22:13 PM »
I've never primed with an alternative sugar source, but I've been considering it for a beer that is in process now, so I'll share some references with you. Hopefully we can figure it out!

Basic Brewing did an experiment with alternative priming sugars in October 2010:

Zot O'Connor did a priming experiment with cider based on the BBR podcast. They tasted the results on BBR in June 2011:

If you can do this in a keg, it is definitely ideal. For my fruited sour beers, I put the fruit in a fine-mesh bag, drop them into a clean/empty keg, purge a few times, and then transfer the beer. You allow residual or priming yeast to ferment the sugars in the fruit, and if you vent excess pressure very slowly, you retain a lot of the fruit aromatics (unlike refermentation in a carboy). After refermentation is complete, you can transfer to another keg and add priming sugar for bottling or force carbonate.

If no keg, a few things to consider:

1. Consider another dose of fruit in the fermentor as opposed to the bottle. Unless you press the fruit, you'll end up with a lot of pulp in the bottle. A cooler conditioning temperature will slow refermentation and allow you to retain more fruit aromatics.

2. I would figure out the sugar content of the juice using a refractometer. Thaw them, juice them, and sample from the juice. Try to minimize oxygen pickup through the process (which is tough).

3. I would make a separate simple syrup solution and blend that with the thawed juice, rather than boiling the juice. Boiling the juice will deteriorate those aromatics you're trying to keep in the beer, and it could cause a permanent pectin haze in the beer. If this is a 'clean' beer (no brett/bacteria), you can sulfite the fruit to reduce the risk of contamination, or just keep it cold and drink it fairly quickly.

4. Use the heavy-duty bottles, just in case you make a math error  :o

5. Have you dry hopped with Azacca before? I don't care for Azacca, personally, and I think the grassy/stemmy quality would highlight the vegetal qualities of the fruit. You might try dry hopping a few of the bottles to test this part of the recipe.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Bottling with juice/syrup
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2015, 02:23:34 PM »
A local brewery here, Logsdon, used pear juice to prime. I vaguely recall an interview with Dave Logsdon where he explained how they do it. The take away that I remember is that most of us prime with a sugary liquid alreay, but we don't think of it as X amount of liquid at a certain gravity, we usually think X weight in X volume. For instance 110 gm corn sugar for 2.5 volumes in 20L of 15C highest finished temp beer. I guess if you could determine the gravity of that you would know what gravity juice you would need, or how much of a different gravity. There's supposed to be a chart out there on the interweb but I've never been able to find it.

But what if we think of the juice as weight of sugar per volume? You're a metric guy so you should be able to figure it out if you have a good scale. Clear fruit juice is mostly sugar and water. Since water weighs about a gram per mil, just weigh 100 ml of the juice. If 100 ml weights 150 gm, you have 50 gms sugar per 100 ml juice, I think... Then you do the simple math as to how much volume of juice you need to get the weight of sugar you need.

You are introducing some water though, juice is sugar and water, but not enough to be concerned about. I guess if the juice is really low sugar you could recalculate taking the juice volume into consideration. Since the sugar is displacing some water my idea is probably just a generalization rather than dead balls accurate. I don't have the Steven Hawking brain pan to figure out that.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2015, 02:47:40 PM by klickitat jim »

Offline erockrph

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Re: Bottling with juice/syrup
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2015, 12:11:42 AM »
The rule of thumb to go by is that every gravity point adds approximately 0.5 volumes of CO2. For instance, a typical beer fermentation finishes with the ballpark of 1.0 volumes of CO2 in solution. Typical priming sugar amounts add roughly .003 to the FG, and the beer ends up at 2.5 volumes of CO2.
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Offline unclebrazzie

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Re: Bottling with juice/syrup
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2015, 12:07:35 PM »
Thanks for links, Kyle! I'll have a look-see, but in the meantime:

Yes, kegging is ideal for flavour additions. Just tasted a passionfruit-habanere saison last weekend which would never have been as flavourful if the juice&spice would have been added in secondary instead of bottling.

Assertaining the sugar content of the juice is crucial. Without knowing that, bottle bombs are almost a certainty. My example was hypothetical and can be scaled toward actual values.

I hear you on the syrup, but at the same time, I want to be sure I'm not introducing nasties into the beer. Even frozen/thawed, some bugs will still be present on the berries, and hence also in the juice.

Azacca: nope, not used it before. Going by the descriptions I found on the interwebs, to which I'll now add "grassy/stemmy" :(
I'm looking to accentuate the fruitiness of the seabuck thorn, which I've heard to be likened to Jolly Ranchers and other fruity/sour candies.

yes, metrics will one day rule the world, I'm sure of that.
And yes, thinking of it as "grams of sugar" equivalents will help in the bottling experiment. In which case a simple a Brix reading will reveal the weight of sugar in the juice and will make the whole point/unit thing unnecessarily complex. Thanks for pointing that out.
Depending on the actual amount of juice needed, I will need tol compensate for added volume.

thx for that. I believe those numbers match my example.
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Offline smokeymcb

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Re: Bottling with juice/syrup
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2015, 02:44:52 PM »
A different way to go about it maybe...

Remove enough beer from your finished batch to fill a bottle.  Prime it with the appropriate amount of sugar and take a gravity reading.  Then just keep adding juice to the whole batch till the gravity matches the correctly primed sample bottles gravity.

I could be missing something here but I'm thinking that if the gravity is where it needs to be, the carbonation should be proper?

Edit: Not sure how much oxygen this would drag into the beer...

Edit 2: Maybe a better way would be to pull 2 sample bottles from the main batch and prime one with the correct amount of sugar, test and add juice to the second till the gravity is the same.  Then do math...
« Last Edit: September 30, 2015, 02:48:08 PM by smokeymcb »
Anyone got a lighter??

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Offline unclebrazzie

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Re: Bottling with juice/syrup
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2015, 08:56:26 AM »
Interesting approach. But finnicky and liable in terms of annoying the beer with oxygen and repeated readings and whatnot.

I'm thinking pre-emptive math would prevent all this rummaging....
All truth is fiction.
--Don Quichote