Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Experimenting With Fruit Beer

I promised myself I wouldn't post any more "Beer Photos of the Week" until I got moving on some actual brewing posts. And as I have several to talk about, I decided to go with the fruit beer post today.

Why a fruit beer? Because fruit beer is fun, and I wanted to try something a little different. I've made beer with cherries and strawberries in the past, but wanted to try something different this time. So I chose two tropical fruits that go great together: orange and mango. I would implement them in different ways though. So, here is the recipe:

Fruit Beer - 6 gallons, mini-mash, 1.049 OG, 24 IBU

3.5 lbs Pale Ale Malt
1 lb Vienna Malt
0.5 lb Crystal 20L Malt
2.0 lbs Munton's Ultralight DME
2.0 lbs Breiss Bavarian Wheat DME
Zest of one medium blood orange - 60 min boil
0.75 oz Saaz Pellet Hops, 6.8% AA - 60 min boil
0.75 oz Hallertau Pellet Hops, 3.9% AA - 5 min flavor/aroma
8 lbs Frozen Mango Chunks, pureed (secondary)
Wyeast 1056 American Ale (harvested and re-pitched from IPA)

My goal was to have a basic ale, not too dark (recipe calculated 5.5 SRM, but I got a little darker), without a lot of bitterness or hop character, but what hop character I get should be from noble hops to complement the fruit. Best guess, the base is supposed to be kind of like a German Barley Ale (Alt or Kolsch).

I used the wort chiller for the first time. It was beautiful. 40 min of chilling and the wort was at 72°F. Opened up the lid, saw the beautiful cold break at the bottom of clear wort, and thought "Easy as pie!"

Yeah, right. Racking to primary was a different story. I simply could not prevent the break from racking into the bucket without losing waaay too much beer. I was trying to rack through the spigot at the base of my kettle instead of siphon from the top. So I ended up straining it all into the bucket and sealing it up for 2-3 hours to allow the trub to settle and then rack the beer into a glass primary before the beer could re-absorb the break.

Success! The sample is from the top of the bucket before racking, and you can clearly see the trub left over. As you can see at the top of the post the "new beer" beer is a little darker than 5 SRM, but the color is still great. OG was a touch high - 1.051. So into the primary it went, with a starter of harvested yeast thrown in...

Nearly two weeks later came secondary day - the day to put the beer on the fruit. I was worried about space - where would I put 5 gallons of beer plus 8 lbs or pureed mango? My first thought was to put it all in the bucket and do a secondary in plastic, but on the odd (or not so odd) chance I could not get back to it rapidly, I didn't want the beer spending weeks and weeks in plastic. Yech. So again, I transferred it into the bucket and sealed it HOLD while I cleaned and re-sanitized the carboy and put the pureed fruit in...

That's the harvested yeast in a flask of new wort (to wake it up) on the bucket.

SG of 1.010 equates to about 5.6% ABV. That's the only accurate measurement I'll have to go with.

The new food processor ready to go. It's wet because I sanitized it with Iodophor before commencing.

That's what 8 lbs of pureed mango looks like in a carboy. Now, to rack the beer onto the mango...

We went out to dinner, came home, and lo and behold...

Wakey, wakey! Eggs and bakey- uh, I mean...barley!!! Pitch it into the carboy, put it back in the corner, and 24 hours later...


So I'm leaving it all alone to let the yeast beasties devour the fruit sugars for a couple of weeks or so. Then I'll clarify and bottle, and hopefully when late spring/summer comes, we'll have an awesome fruit beer that will go great with Thai or Indian food...

I love this. It's so "wide-open"!


  1. Fruit Beer? Almost sounds sacriligious. My taste buds puckered and not in a good way. But then I am of simple PBR tastes.

  2. Actually, fruit is used in a lot of beer. You just need the right fruit, and to use it in the correct amount. I actually verified that mango has been used before (you'd be surprised what people brew with!) and checked up on some successful recipes online. Mango is not too acidic, so puckering should not be an outcome. The "formula" of a fairly simple base beer without too complex a character is a proven one, so I'm hoping for good results.

  3. You like to do something new all the time , that's too crazy , interesting .Exceptional !!


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