Woah, it’s been a while since anybody has posted anything here! We may have forgotten a bit about the blog, but luckily we haven’t forgotten about brewing. We’ve actually been very busy in that respect over the past year. Recently we brewed with fruit for the first time, brewing up a batch of Strawberry Hefeweizen. A lot of things that I read about using fruit in beer really cautioned against using strawberries. If they aren’t fresh in season you don’t get much flavor out apparently, and it’s also delicate that the beer needs to be drunk while it’s still young or the flavors can age out completely. Lucky for us we hit the peak of the strawberry season 2 months ago, and the beer was so good that it didn’t last long at all!
Here is the recipe for a 10 gallon batch:
- 10.5 lbs 2-row American Malt
- 7 lbs White Wheat
- Infusion Mash, 60m @ 152F
- 1 oz Chinook Hops 60m BKO
- 1 oz Mt. Hood Hops 5m BKO
- WYeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen Yeast
- OG Target – 1.051
- FG Target – 1.014
We then added 6 lbs of Dole Frozen Strawberries to the secondary fermenter. We used frozen strawberries here for a couple reasons. 1- they were cheaper and easier to obtain, but B- they were already pre cut and cleaned, with stems and leaves removed, and III- we brewed in early June, and local strawberries were still a few weeks from being in season. Before adding them to the fermenter we pasteurized them by placing the fruit in a 16 quart stock pot and covering with 160F water for about 20 minutes. The whole pot, including the water, was cooled and added to the fermenter.
At kegging time I tried a little experiment. Since we brew 10 gallons at a time, and then keg into 2, 5 gallon corny kegs, this let us put more fresh fruit in 1 keg, while leaving the other keg without. So, to the first keg we added 2 quarts of the freshest, ripest, locally grown strawberries we could get. We hit the peak strawberry season at exactly the right time for kegging. I had to cut and clean these fresh strawberries, and then I added them to a grain bag and tied it to the top of the dip tube inside the keg. (This proved to be more difficult than I had imagined, those openings are only big enough for 1 hand!) I wanted it suspended so that the fruit wouldn’t sink to the bottom and plug up the dip straw.
Well, the end result of all this work with the fruit really paid off, I think this was one of the best beers 6GB has ever made. The fresh strawberry flavor really worked well with the banana and clove flavors from the hefe yeast, and the white wheat gave the whole beer a bit of a nice creamy mouthfeel. My girlfriend said it tasted like a Strawberry Banana smoothie, or Strawberry Banana yogurt, yum!
As for the experiment with putting more fresh fruit in the keg vs. not, I’m a little torn. BOTH beers were supremely delicious and I think it’s probably down to personal preference. The keg with the extra fresh berries definitely had more strawberry flavor, and a more pinkish color. While the control keg the beer, i.e. the malt and yeast, were allowed to shine through a little more. That second “control” keg was brought out on the 4th of July and we nearly kicked it that day, that’s how quaffable it was!
Brewing with strawberries turned out to be a really simple addition and really gave great results. This definitely won’t be the last time we brew with fruit (I have an idea for an Orange Chocolate Stout that I’m hoping should be wonderful for spicing up cold winter nights)!