Author Topic: Apples in Brown Ale  (Read 531 times)

Offline berry_pride

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Apples in Brown Ale
« on: September 15, 2018, 06:05:45 PM »
In the midst of brewing a fall apple brown ale per the wife's request. I am trying to determine what type of apples to use. I plan on slicing, freezing and then adding during the secondary. Has anyone ever brewed with fresh apples before? What type did you use and what method of adding them? Thanks!
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Offline KellerBrauer

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Re: Apples in Brown Ale
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2018, 12:36:06 PM »
While I have never brewed with real fruit, I can tell you that using fruit, particularly in the secondary, will cause fermentation to continue until all the fermentable sugars from the fruit have been fully consumed.  Brewing with fruit can be a tricky endeavor, so I will also will be interested in learning how other brewers use real fruit. ;)
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Apples in Brown Ale
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2018, 12:55:27 PM »
I know several guys who make great cider, which I do as well, and I also make apple ale.  But I don't know anyone who uses whole apple slices in secondary.  We all use juice.  One guy uses his uncle's apples and juices them himself, and it turns out great.  They are various varieties.  I too have juiced my own, based on whatever I have on hand, which has included Cortland, Mac, Honeycrisp, Gravenstein, Wealthy, and many many others.  To be honest I don't think it much matters what varieties they are.  The real point is that you get the freshest juice.  If you are fortunate to live near several orchards as I do, you can pick up a gallon of different ones from several different places, taste the sweet ciders side by side, and there will always be one or two that stand way out from all the others as having a lot more apple flavor, more or less acidity, etc.  I now go to the same guy every year because his juice is always the best and even better than I can juice myself at home, and I've asked which varieties he uses and it's much the same as mentioned above: Cortland, Mac, Gravenstein, etc. because those are popular around here.  Elsewhere in the nation I might get something else but like I say, it doesn't much matter as long as it tastes fantastic.  If you use mediocre juice, you'll get mediocre hard cider.  But let someone else do the dirty work themselves!  Just buy the juice.  If you don't live near an orchard, your grocery store probably has one or two preservative-free juices that you can use.  I know the national brand Simply Apple has no preservatives and is ~pretty good.  I've actually used it a couple times for topping off the fermenter.

In any case, also, be aware that any apples will add quite a bit of tartness to the beer... so I wouldn't choose a very tart apple on purpose because it can turn the beer downright sour.  Try to pick ones that are more on the sweet side if you can.

I know I'm avoiding your question about "yeah but can I use whole slices?" because I don't think it's a great idea.  They'll take up a ton of space, leave a ton of sludge in the beer.  You'll lose like half the batch being unable to separate the beer from the sludge, OR they won't add any flavor at all but just a hint of tartness to the final beer.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2018, 12:57:02 PM by dmtaylor »
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Offline joe_meadmaker

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Re: Apples in Brown Ale
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2018, 02:13:42 PM »
I haven't used apples before, but I've used other fruits multiple times.  There are a couple things to keep in mind.  When adding the fruit you'll want to get maximum surface contact.  You mentioned slicing the apples.  If you go this route, make sure the slices are small and thin.

Another thing is making sure your beer is protected.  You might want to use a campden tablet or two when adding the apples.  This can help prevent oxidation and protect against bacteria or wild yeast if there's anything on the apples.

But I also agree with Dave's comment.  What you're really looking to get from the apples is the juice.  Depending on how much juice you want, it could be a lot of time slicing up apples.  I remember one day I pitted and halved a little over 15 pounds of cherries for a mead.  Two words - never again.  If I was adding apple to a beer, I would definitely do it with a juice or cider.  It will be much easier to control the amount being added.  And definitely be a lot less work.

Offline berry_pride

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Re: Apples in Brown Ale
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2018, 04:34:39 PM »
Thank you for the input. What is your suggestion for the amount of juice use? I am brewing a 5 gallon batch and just trying to figure out a good starting point. Would you add it in before fermentation or add it in after fermentation is complete before bottling or kegging? Thanks.
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Offline joe_meadmaker

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Re: Apples in Brown Ale
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2018, 05:40:29 PM »
In one of your other recent posts (https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=32312.0), Dave posted a link to his apple ale recipe.  Not having done an apple ale before, I would say this is a great starting point for you.  He specifies 1 gallon of cider for a three gallon batch.  So for a 5 gallon batch you would be looking at around 1.6.  The recipe specifies to add the cider at flameout.

Adding it when you rack to secondary would also work.  Just make sure you heat the cider up to pasteurize it and then cool it back down.  Also that the volume of the main batch is small enough that the cider addition will be bringing it up to 5 gallons.

You don't want to add it right before bottling/kegging.  The cider will contain sugars and your fermentation should pick back up again for a little bit.

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Apples in Brown Ale
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2018, 06:13:11 PM »
In one of your other recent posts (https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=32312.0), Dave posted a link to his apple ale recipe.  Not having done an apple ale before, I would say this is a great starting point for you.  He specifies 1 gallon of cider for a three gallon batch.  So for a 5 gallon batch you would be looking at around 1.6.  The recipe specifies to add the cider at flameout.

Adding it when you rack to secondary would also work.  Just make sure you heat the cider up to pasteurize it and then cool it back down.  Also that the volume of the main batch is small enough that the cider addition will be bringing it up to 5 gallons.

You don't want to add it right before bottling/kegging.  The cider will contain sugars and your fermentation should pick back up again for a little bit.

Yeah, what he said.  :)
Dave

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Offline berry_pride

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Re: Apples in Brown Ale
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2018, 11:12:53 AM »
In one of your other recent posts (https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=32312.0), Dave posted a link to his apple ale recipe.  Not having done an apple ale before, I would say this is a great starting point for you.  He specifies 1 gallon of cider for a three gallon batch.  So for a 5 gallon batch you would be looking at around 1.6.  The recipe specifies to add the cider at flameout.

Adding it when you rack to secondary would also work.  Just make sure you heat the cider up to pasteurize it and then cool it back down.  Also that the volume of the main batch is small enough that the cider addition will be bringing it up to 5 gallons.


You don't want to add it right before bottling/kegging.  The cider will contain sugars and your fermentation should pick back up again for a little bit.

Great! Thanks for sharing and the feedback. Ill let everyone know how it pans out.
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Offline Lazy Ant Brewing

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Re: Apples in Brown Ale
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2018, 01:13:22 PM »
Dave, what would be the difference between adding cider and adding apple juice?

Many years ago my Dad had an apple orchard and access to a cider press and we made cider.  We didn't add anything to preserve so it would ferment from the local yeast and the bugs in the cider mill, on the apples, and in the air.

I actually liked that naturally fermented cider much better than the hard ciders I have bought or sampled. Eventually it would ferment to vinegar, but before it got to that point I enjoyed it very much. I no longer have access to either the orchard or the cider press.

I do like brown ales however and might consider a small batch of brew with juice or cider added, but would not wish the brown ale itself to taste like the hard ciders that are on the market.

Suggestions please, and thanks for your advice.
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Apples in Brown Ale
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2018, 02:59:25 PM »
Dave, what would be the difference between adding cider and adding apple juice?

Many years ago my Dad had an apple orchard and access to a cider press and we made cider.  We didn't add anything to preserve so it would ferment from the local yeast and the bugs in the cider mill, on the apples, and in the air.

I actually liked that naturally fermented cider much better than the hard ciders I have bought or sampled. Eventually it would ferment to vinegar, but before it got to that point I enjoyed it very much. I no longer have access to either the orchard or the cider press.

I do like brown ales however and might consider a small batch of brew with juice or cider added, but would not wish the brown ale itself to taste like the hard ciders that are on the market.

Suggestions please, and thanks for your advice.

First, let's get this straight:  "Juice" and "Cider" are defined differently by Americans than the rest of the world.

When cidermakers say "juice", they are talking about the brown liquid that comes out when they squeeze apples.  When cidermakers say "cider", they are talking about fermented juice.  I use the cidermakers' terms, not the American terms which lead to confusion.

Meanwhile, Americans refer to "juice" as filtered yellow stuff, typically from concentrate and typically with a lot of preservatives.  Cidermakers usually avoid this type of "juice" because flavor is lost in the processing, and the preservatives can significantly interfere and inhibit proper fermentation.  Americans also use the term "cider" for the brown juice with or without preservatives, and "hard cider" for the fermented product.  The rest of the world thinks we're crazy for changing all these definitions, because, well, we ARE crazy.

All that being said, I shall continue to use the cidermakers' definitions of raw juice with no preservatives, and just plain "cider" for "hard cider".

The difference between adding juice without preservatives vs. the filtered yellow stuff with preservatives is obvious in my opinion.  For the best "hard cider", you'll want to source the freshest juice you can get, from a local orchard with no preservatives if at all possible.  Otherwise, like I said previously above, maybe try the Simply Apple brand which is somehow miraculously sent out to grocery stores all over the nation and is brown and full of appley bits and contains no preservatives but miraculously manages to keep for weeks.  Don't ask me how they do that, I can only guess they've used UV or other proprietary process to kill all the yeast.  If you try any juice with preservatives, you may or may not find success.  I know a lot of people say it works fine.  But personally, I'll stick with the best tasting fresh orchard juice.

Some things to keep in mind for anyone making cider or apple ale:  The sugars are simple and will tend to ferment out 90-100% by most yeasts, with aim for FG of 0.992-0.994 in a pure cider or low 1.000s in an ale.  AND..... patience is a necessity.  Don't expect fermentation to be complete in a week or two.  Yeast works much more slowly in a simple sugar environment, and it can take many weeks and even months to finish.  Instead of monitoring final gravity over the course of 2-3 days like with beer, try waiting a full week or more in between readings to know when you've hit final gravity.  Those last ~10 gravity points might take weeks to finish up.  If you package too early, you could end up with high carbonation or explosions, not to mention a lot of sulfur.  Sulfur is very common in ciders and apple ales, but is not a concern as it always disappears with age... and by age, I mean several weeks or a month or more.  Patience!!

Cheers all.
Dave

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Offline Lazy Ant Brewing

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Re: Apples in Brown Ale
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2018, 03:37:39 PM »
Dave,

Thanks for your advice but I have one more question that may be hard to state correctly.

Can I brew a brown ale with fresh juice without preservatives and have it taste like brown ale with apple juice as opposed to hard cider with a trace of the taste of brown ale?  I don't like many of the hard ciders I've tasted, but I do like apples and I do like brown ale.

Maybe it's the amount of juice I would add to the recipe.  Thanks for taking the time to answer and especially your tip about the long fermentation time involved.
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Apples in Brown Ale
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2018, 03:46:24 PM »
Dave,

Thanks for your advice but I have one more question that may be hard to state correctly.

Can I brew a brown ale with fresh juice without preservatives and have it taste like brown ale with apple juice as opposed to hard cider with a trace of the taste of brown ale?  I don't like many of the hard ciders I've tasted, but I do like apples and I do like brown ale.

Maybe it's the amount of juice I would add to the recipe.  Thanks for taking the time to answer and especially your tip about the long fermentation time involved.

Even with the very best juice, when apple juice is combined with an ale, the ale flavor heavily overwhelms the apple character.  I find that I have to use a LOT of juice to get much apple flavor out of it at all.... like 2-3 gallons out of a 5-gallon batch.  Otherwise in smaller amounts, the apple juice mostly just adds tartness but not much apple flavor.  So what I recommend is to brew a very small batch of beer, then add the juice to that.  So for 5 gallons, perhaps only brew a 3-gallon batch then add 2 gallons juice to it after the wort is boiled and all is done.  Then you will get the apple character that you seek.  Don't worry.... it will still taste very much like an ale.  Apple flavor is very easily overwhelmed by everything else.  Using an awful lot of it is the only way to get it to show up in the final beverage beyond just tartness.

Yes, be very patient.  My apple ale, which I've made many times, takes a good 4 or 5 weeks, sometimes longer, to reach final gravity.  Just be patient, leave it alone, give it as much time as it wants.

Cheers.
Dave

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Offline Lazy Ant Brewing

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Re: Apples in Brown Ale
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2018, 04:08:25 PM »
Dave,

Cooler weather is coming.  If I controlled the fermentation temp for two  weeks in my beer fridge (I normally store the beer at 37 F) which also has to double as my fermentation chamber and is then set at 62 F ramping gradually to 66 F or 68 for 10 to 14 days) I'm thinking maybe I could then take the fermenter out of the garage and put it inside the house where in the winter time the ambient room temp would rarely exceed 68 F.  If it did get to 72 F or 73 F would that be a problem?

Again thanks for your patience and help.
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Apples in Brown Ale
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2018, 05:18:57 PM »
I don't know that the fermentation temperature is very critical, but I do think it's generally best both for beers and for cider to keep things relatively cool during the first 7 to 10 days, less than 70 F.  Then after a lot of fermentation has occurred, it's relatively safe to warm it up if you like to help the yeast finish up without generating much if any fusel alcohols, which avoids off-flavors and potential headaches.  But it's possible you'll still get a tasty cider or apple ale even if fermented at 70-73 F the whole time.  I guess I'm not entirely sure.  Great question though and maybe worth some experimentation.
Dave

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Offline Lazy Ant Brewing

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Re: Apples in Brown Ale
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2018, 06:02:05 PM »
I plan to keep it cool the first 10 days or so, but then I want to move the fermenter out of the garage fridge to the house.  Then I'll be able to  crank the temp back down to 37 F and use it solely as a beer fridge.

I'm in S. Indiana.  If I brew about the third week in Dec., and let the fermenting wort stay at 66 F through about Jan. 7 before moving the fermenter to the house I should be okay.  I'll let you know how it turns out.  Thanks again.
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