Strawberry Cream Ale

Continuing the "To Style Series" with an entry for category 20 Fruit Beer. Last summer I brewed a "Farm Fresh Series" featuring locally grown and procured fruits and vegetables from my local farmers market. It was a lot of fun not knowing what I would find each weekend to brew with at the farmers market. Strolling through the season I ended up brewing a Strawberry Cream ale in May. A Tart Cherry Porter and a Blueberry Belgian ale in June and a Mixed Berry Saison in July. As summer was coming to close I brewed a Smoked Pumpkin Porter (with smoked pumpkins and not smoked malt) at the end of August. I really enjoyed coming up with the recipes for each batch based upon accentuating the farm fresh ingredients. I was also experimenting with adding fruit into primary fermentor, where most brewing text recommends adding the fruit to secondary or at bottling. For me, I enjoy my sugars fermented and adding fruit into secondary or later in the process just creates a fruit beer that is too sweet. Adding the fruit to primary fermentor didn't drive off all the delicate fruit flavors. I felt the yeast being in contact with the fruit during fermentation helped to marry the flavors of the fruit and the base beer style and created a properly attenuated beer.

For the Tap Vermont tasting I presented this Strawberry Cream ale as follows, "Strawberry Split: An experimental batch using farm fresh strawberries from my local farmer's market. A traditional style Cream ale brewed with barley malt, flaked maize, and honey malt. The beer is barely hopped allowing the flavor and aroma of fresh strawberries to shine through, and it has fruit in it, so, it's good for you". This beer of course went over very well with the women in attendance but even the guys liked it because it's still a crisp, dry beer with out being overpowered by fruit flavor. 

Strawberry Cream Ale
Briess Two Row    
Flaked Maize       14%
Honey Malt           4%

mash 154*f

Celeia   first wort    .3 oz.

13.2*P (1.053sg)
7 lbs. of Fresh Strawberries
3 sliced Bananas
White Labs WLP009 Australian Ale Yeast

#1-Strawberries up front with some banana on the back note. Quite sweet smelling
#2-Initial aroma of strawberry and banana. Light hay, straw, and meal malt. No hops or fruity esters. Clean
#3-Strawberry is the dominant aroma but banana does emerge. Very light malt character, to be expected from a cream ale.

#1-Crystal clear amber orange, not much head.
#2-Clear. Orange with light ruby notes. Small, fizzy head. Short to no retention
#3-Brilliantly clear. Pours low head fades fast. Light copper with reddish hue

#1-Slightly tart banana like malt followed quickly by a wave of strawberry. Slight dryness and tartness in the finish.
#2-Hay, straw, and meal malt with lightly tart strawberries. Faint banana flavor. Light to no hop flavor or bitterness. Fully fermented with no residual sugar. Dry finish
#3-Clean, crisp with a dry finish. Nice strawberry fruit flavor balancing light malt and low hop character. Banana is very subtle and if not cited may not have noticed.

#1-Medium bodied, medium carbonation
#2-Light body. Medium-low carbonation. No warmth. Medium Creaminess.
#3-Light body with medium carbonation and overall crisp.

Overall Impression
#1-I enjoyed this. Needs a bit more maltiness from the beer to really bring some complexity. Strawberry and banana were well balanced but needs a little more to bring it together.
#2-Nice beer. This could be better with more mouthfeel, and a persistent head.
#3-Very refreshing. Fruity & crisp a nice balance between strawberry and a light cream ale. Unfortunately banana got lost. Still, a well made beer.

#1-Recognized 32/50
#2-Certified     31/50
#3-Certified     32/50

Overall 31.6/50---Very Good (30-37)

3rd Place in Category

After brewing the same seasonal beer twice in a row I really feel I'm starting to dial in this seasonal one off. The head retention issue is most likely from the pectins present in the fruit. I could use a pectic enzyme to breakdown the pectins that destroy the head but I'll probably try adding Weyermann Carafoam next time. Also, I add the bananas not for flavor per say but as a strawberry flavor enhancer and to add a creaminess to the body. This is a trick I learned from a friend, former co-worker and master mead maker Jon Talkington of Brimming Horn Meadery where the banana adds body and boosts other fruity flavors present in the liquid whether it be mead, wine, beer, melomel , or cyser's. Thus I didn't mention bananas at the Tap Vermont tasting. I've found if something is in a batch and it's not a dominate flavor then it's better to just not mention it's presence.  Keep it as a your brewer secret ingredient adding complexity and a depth to a batch. One judges comment in flavor section sums it up as, "Banana is very subtle and if not cited may not have noticed". Next up in the To Style Series is an Oatmeal Stout that I entered as a Dry Stout and an Oatmeal Stout with interesting feedback.

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