Author Topic: Fruit beer base  (Read 10235 times)

Offline gmac

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Fruit beer base
« on: June 20, 2011, 09:57:03 AM »
I think I've got some sort of Brewer's Block.  I just don't know what to brew next so I thought I'd take a stab at a fruit beer for those hot days in August.  Here's what I'm thinking.  Please tell me if this will work.
Since I don't usually drink fruit beers except for the odd Kreik lambic (when I can find it), I thought that I'd take a stab at a few different types.  I was thinking of brewing a standard base and then splitting that into two or three different carboys and adding different fruit to each.  Do you think this is a good idea or that it will work the way I think it will? 

If it seems like a reasonable approach, can you give me some advice on a base brew to start with?  I'm thinking of doing something with a decent level of sweetness and light body to show off the fruit colour and flavours.  My initial thought is:
5 lbs Pilsner malt
2 lbs Vienna malt
1 lb Crystal 45
I am expecting some additional fermentation from the sugars in the fruit so I thought I'd tone down the malt content to try to end around 1.050 - 1.055.  For hops I'm thinking of using only 1 oz of Cascade FWH with no flavour or aroma hops.  I assume that there won't be much flavour from the Cascade but what there is should be citrus and mesh with fruit.  My fruit thoughts are:
Rhubarb, Cherries and TBD (Mango?  Dried Apricot? Suggestions?)

Offline EHall

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Re: Fruit beer base
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2011, 10:35:48 AM »
For me personally... I use either pils or pale malt with a little bit of C10 or C20. If I'm using some lighter flavored fruit like peaches or strawberries, I use pils malt, for other stronger fruits, I use pale. Mash around 150-152.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Fruit beer base
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2011, 10:57:29 AM »
havn't brewed a fruit beer myself but I agree with EHall that you wouldn't want much in the way of specialty malts. I would keep it to pale or pils and I am not sure I would even use crystal but perhaps for some sweetness. When I am experimenting with an unussual ingredient (heather tips for instance, or maple syrup) I like to keep the malt bill super simple. Maybe even just base malt. I did a Barley wine with maple syrup that was just two row and ivenhoe hops. I like the idea of a light hand with the hops for this fruit experiment though. just enough bitterness to balance but no hop aroma or flavour to compete with the fruit.
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Online tschmidlin

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Re: Fruit beer base
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2011, 11:20:02 AM »
I had a rhubarb blonde at the NHC.  He said he used 5 lbs of rhubarb for the last 15 minutes of the boil.  It had a distinct rhubarb flavor.  At first I thought maybe he should use less next time, but as I drank it the rhubarb wasn't quite as obvious.
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Fruit beer base
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2011, 01:08:55 PM »
I tasted a great IPA with mango and apricots (IIRC) on the beer BOS table at the NHC.  I think there are a couple people here that might be able to help you out with that one. HINT HINT.  (Translation: I'd like the recipe too!!)
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Offline gmac

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Re: Fruit beer base
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2011, 02:26:40 PM »
I had a rhubarb blonde at the NHC.  He said he used 5 lbs of rhubarb for the last 15 minutes of the boil.  It had a distinct rhubarb flavor.  At first I thought maybe he should use less next time, but as I drank it the rhubarb wasn't quite as obvious.
Interesting.  I would have thought that putting it in the secondary would have been better.  That's why I was going to split 5 gals.  Given that rhubarb is so tart, what was the beer like?  I was thinking of the Vienna, Crystal and Pilsner malts to give a level of sweetness that would counteract the tartness a bit.  

I was thinking 2 lbs of rhubarb in 2 gals of fermented beer as a starting point.  Not sure about cherries.  But, maybe I will go with all rhubarb in 5 gals.  

Am I wrong about needing some sweetness?  Most of the replies have been advocating pale malt only which is fine if that's the way to go.  

Offline johnf

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Re: Fruit beer base
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2011, 02:37:31 PM »
I tasted a great IPA with mango and apricots (IIRC) on the beer BOS table at the NHC.  I think there are a couple people here that might be able to help you out with that one. HINT HINT.  (Translation: I'd like the recipe too!!)

I appreciate the compliment.

Here is the base beer which is simply an IIPA. We weren't setting out to make a fruit beer per se. The 1272 does leave a bit of sweetness that 1056 doesn't and I think that made it a better base for a fruit beer than a bone dry IIPA.

1.082
6.5 gallons post poil (I use whole hops on a false bottom, this gets about 5 gallons into the keg I dry hop in and 4.5 in the serving keg)

84% Weyermann Pilsner (probably about 1%-2% of this was actually acid malt to adjust the pH, I would have to check my handwritten notes at home)
4% Aromatic
4% Biscuit
8% Orange Blossom Honey at flameout (had this laying around from mead making, not sure it is a huge part of the beer, wouldn't go buy it at Dean and Deluca or anything as sugar would likely work).

RO water with 1 tsp CaCl and 2 tsp CaSO4 per 5 gallons.

2 Northern Brewer HopShots at 60 minutes.
2 oz CTZ, 1.5 oz Amarillo, 1.5 oz Centennial, and 3 oz Simcoe after flameout and hot steeped/whirlpooled for 30 minutes
2 oz Simcoe, 1.5 oz CTZ, 1 oz Amarillo and 1 oz Centennial dry hop at 68-72 F for 7 days. Dry hopping was carried out in a keg which was shaken to agitate the hops whenever it is walked by (a few times a day).

2 Liter stir-plate starter of Wyeast 1272, pitched at 62 and fermented at 68.

So initially how this came about was that we were taking a break from bottling for the first round and I had a glass of the beer above. We had just purchased a product called Mio which is something you squirt into water to make a Kool-Aid or Crystal Light type beverage in the Apricot Peach flavor. We had an extra first round entry (we made a conservatively high number as they were clearly closing out and we weren't quite sure what we were sending yet) that we would otherwise send something pretty marginal in, so we mixed up some of that and sent it. The fruit flavor was pretty artificial and it added too much sweetness, but it wasn't bad. Miraculously, this slipped through what must have been a weak fruit beer category down in Dallas.

We rebrewed the IIPA for the second round. With the reliance on late and dry hops it is pretty aromatic but not very shelf stable. We definitely wanted to do a bit better for the second round. We held onto the option of using actual fruit but also considered other options. After some research online I ordered Peach and Mango extracts from Olive Nation. We experimented with these in other beverages and they add no sweetness and have very natural flavors so we decided to proceed with the extracts.

The extracts were added to taste. Actually my wife did this while I was in Japan so she probably deserves most of the credit as this obviously makes or breaks the beer. It was 5 drops of peach and 12 of Mango in 48 ounces out of a standard drugstore eyedropper.

So the moral of the story is:

1. The base IIPA recipe is pretty good.
2. I am embarrassed about what we entered in the first round and was surprised that it got through and the base beer did not.
3. I am proud of what we entered in the second round and I wholeheartedly recommend the Olive Nation products. I've gotten homebrew shop extracts in the past and I think the character of these is much more like natural fruit.

As for why we used Pilsner malt, we found out we were out of domestic malt on brew day. I will likely continue this in the future as one of the challenges with a really hoppy IIPA is getting malt to come through without just adding a bunch of crystal malt. I think the Pilsner has a richer flavor that cuts through better. I might blend Pilsner with domestic next time (I know Tasty and some other people have been doing this for a while, I am late to the game).

Online tschmidlin

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Re: Fruit beer base
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2011, 02:39:43 PM »
Interesting.  I would have thought that putting it in the secondary would have been better.  That's why I was going to split 5 gals.  Given that rhubarb is so tart, what was the beer like?  I was thinking of the Vienna, Crystal and Pilsner malts to give a level of sweetness that would counteract the tartness a bit. 
I don't know the OG/FG of the beer, but it wasn't very bitter and had a clear rhubarb sourness.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Fruit beer base
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2011, 08:45:07 AM »
Ah, peach not apricot.  That's right.  Similar flavors.  Thanks for the IIPA recipe.  Actually looks fairly similar to mine (including unusual things like the honey and the yeast).  Bitter but not harsh, plus well balanced fruit flavors.  Clean and well crafted.  Try it with all Vienna some time for an interesting change.

Don't worry about how you get a fruit beer, as long as it tastes good.  I blended a mead with a beer, so nothing wrong with fruit extracts.  Some people will whine, but some people whine at anyone who wins a medal.

If anything, I think that beer could have taken a bit more fruit.  The fruit choices matched the hops/yeast so much, some just thought it was playing up what was already there.  I had it in my top 3, so obviously I felt differently.  We knocked 23 down to 8 or 9 and then picked 1-2-3 from those, so it's hard to say it's final rank.  I'd guess #5 or so.  Thought you'd like to know.
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Offline gmac

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Re: Fruit beer base
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2011, 08:59:06 AM »

Am I wrong about needing some sweetness?  Most of the replies have been advocating pale malt only which is fine if that's the way to go.  

Offline jeffy

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Re: Fruit beer base
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2011, 10:00:58 AM »
You guys who were on the best of show beer panel - what did you think of the brined green olive wheat ale we sent you from the spice/herb/veg category?
I found it really interesting, almost like, "well I ordered a martini but they sent me this" kind of thing.
Not beer-like enough?
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Fruit beer base
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2011, 10:01:20 AM »

Am I wrong about needing some sweetness?  Most of the replies have been advocating pale malt only which is fine if that's the way to go.  

I think this is personal taste issue. I like really dry beers, wines, meads etc. There is a 100% blueberry wine out of vermont that I love, they make a sweet, semisweet and dry version and I like the dry version.

If it were me I would at least start with all pale/pils (pils will get you some sweetness anyway) and if I then thought it was too dry I would add some crystal to the next batch. but that's just me.
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Offline gmac

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Re: Fruit beer base
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2011, 10:23:55 AM »

Am I wrong about needing some sweetness?  Most of the replies have been advocating pale malt only which is fine if that's the way to go.  

I think this is personal taste issue. I like really dry beers, wines, meads etc. There is a 100% blueberry wine out of vermont that I love, they make a sweet, semisweet and dry version and I like the dry version.

If it were me I would at least start with all pale/pils (pils will get you some sweetness anyway) and if I then thought it was too dry I would add some crystal to the next batch. but that's just me.

OK, I'll go with all pale and see how it goes.  I guess I could always add a small amount of simple syrup or something if it was undrinkable because of tartness. 
9 lbs Pale Malt
1 oz Cascade FWH
5 lbs Rhubarb added to secondary (still not sure about boiling it and how I'd get it out of the wort if I did or if it was boiled and then fermented on the rhubarb)
Can't get much simpler than that.

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Fruit beer base
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2011, 10:45:40 AM »
You guys who were on the best of show beer panel - what did you think of the brined green olive wheat ale we sent you from the spice/herb/veg category?
I found it really interesting, almost like, "well I ordered a martini but they sent me this" kind of thing.
Not beer-like enough?

First one to go.  Let's just say one judge had a strongly negative reaction to it and nobody else thought it was worth fighting for.

I thought it was OK but the flavors were pretty subtle.  I would have thrown others first, but it was in my bottom half so I let it go.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline johnf

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Re: Fruit beer base
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2011, 07:51:27 AM »
Ah, peach not apricot.  That's right.  Similar flavors.  Thanks for the IIPA recipe.  Actually looks fairly similar to mine (including unusual things like the honey and the yeast).  Bitter but not harsh, plus well balanced fruit flavors.  Clean and well crafted.  Try it with all Vienna some time for an interesting change.

Don't worry about how you get a fruit beer, as long as it tastes good.  I blended a mead with a beer, so nothing wrong with fruit extracts.  Some people will whine, but some people whine at anyone who wins a medal.

If anything, I think that beer could have taken a bit more fruit.  The fruit choices matched the hops/yeast so much, some just thought it was playing up what was already there.  I had it in my top 3, so obviously I felt differently.  We knocked 23 down to 8 or 9 and then picked 1-2-3 from those, so it's hard to say it's final rank.  I'd guess #5 or so.  Thought you'd like to know.

Thanks. I actually got the honey idea from your article earlier this year on Barleywines. You can't really pick it out but I like to think it adds a little complexity that I can notice since I know it is in there. Either way, since we make mead, its basically free as there is always small amounts of some honey laying around. We did a similar recipe with cane sugar last year and it made the second round as IIPA so clearly the honey isn't making the beer or anything. The 1272 I picked up a while ago as I liked Bells hoppy beers with the ester contribution and 1272 was said to be similar.

When I read your dry hopping article I realized that was similar to how we dry hop too. I'm not sure exactly how I arrived at dry hopping in kegs but it was mostly a result of listening to interviews on TBN and drying to replicate what people were doing at the commercial and home levels with conicals (agitating the hops, low oxygen pickup) without having a conical.

Thanks for the feedback. It's nice to know that a few people liked it well enough to keep on the BOS table that long.