So I was all set to make a simple American Wheat, but skipping the long sad story, I got roped into incorporating Gooseberries from a friends back yard. You're not interested in all the reasons why I think this is a bad idea. Doesn't matter. The task has been appointed to me despite my repeated protests.
Now I don't mind drinking a good fruit beer, mind you, but I'd rather just buy them. For me, I find the process way more effort than its worth, especially considering I'm only brewing 2.5gal batches.
But my issue isn't so much with the Gooseberries. There are 101 ways to add fresh fruit to a beer...and every way is either right or wrong if you ask enough people. This I have settled. I will unquestionably choose the method that requires the least amount of work on my part. If in the end the fruit flavor does not come through then, underhandedly, 1) I will blame the inferior growing conditions of the bush and/or the incorrect manner and time-frame in which the berries were harvested and therefore 2) will most likely never be asked to brew this again.
No...my issue is with the hops and yeast. I'm convinced that bittering should be kept to a minimum but should the flavor help push the gooseberries forward or get out of the way? I read a description for Nelson Sauvin that states "Distinctive white wine “fruitiness,” gooseberry." Seems like a win if it wasn't for that gnawing feeling that this is the complete wrong approach..that really the hops should just play a minor part and for better or worse, this ought to be the gooseberry's beer. I mean what's the point of adding fruit if you are only going to mask its flavor?
Same for the yeast. This is not a hefe so no banana, and I'm not looking for a sour, that's for sure. But I can't decide if I should throw a little fruity esters at this thing or keep it clean?
So how would you hop and ferment a Gooseberry Wheat? Push the fruitiness "all in", or fold to the gooseberries?