Cranberry Sour Red Ale

Cranberries are one of only three fruits that originated on North American soil, along with blueberries and concord grapes.  Cranberries are usually only served as a side dish at Thanksgiving, but I enjoy cooking with cranberries year round. A few years ago I used cranberries for a different sort of holiday ale inspired from an orange ginger cranberry sauce recipe. I've been wanting to brew a sour beer with cranberries because the natural tartness of cranberries should complement the sour flavors in a Flemish inspired red ale very well. So, I'm going to add a copious amount of whole cranberries and cranberry juice for a deep ruby color and a lip smacking tart flavor.

Cascade Brewing in Oregon made a sour cranberry ale and New Belgium did as well as part of their Lips of Faith series. This home brew Gose with cranberries sounds good too.

In this batch I'm using whole cranberries from Vermont Cranberry Company and (100%) cranberry juice for a deep cranberry color and flavor. The whole cranberries were added with ten minutes left in the boil, while the juice was added to the fermentor.

Recipe: Pale malt, Aromatic malt, Honey malt, Caramunich 60, Melanoidin malt, and chocolate malt. Mash warm. Lightly hopped. A pound of fresh cranberries, half a gallon of juice. Fermented with Wyeast 3628 Roeselare Yeast Blend.


  1. This looks delicious. When the holidays came around last year, and cranberries by the ton were in all the grocery stores, I wanted to do a sour cranberry beer, but never found the time. I look forward to hearing how this one turns out. Cheers.

  2. I'll be interested to hear how the cranberry flavor comes through. I used .5 lb in 2 gals and didn't get much flavor at all.
    Sounds like a good flavor combination.

  3. you forgot about crabapples, strawberries, huckleberries, blackberries, plums, raspberries. they all have native US species.

    but more importantly, how'd this beer turning out?? Im cueious about the combo of acid and tannin from the fruit

  4. You need to use Massachusetts cranberries son! We got cranberry bogs up the wazoo.

  5. I brewed a cranberry & Brett sour ale - turned out OK, but not great. I think the cranberries added too much tannic dryness and I feel like there needs to be some sweetness in there to balance it out. I had big hopes for my experiment, but was not overjoyed by the result. I will use local (Massachusetts!) cranberries again, but I am now thinking they would be good in a non-sour beer with some residual sweetness/body. Maybe a cranberry brown ale. (BTW details of my first attempt at using cranberries can be read on my blog if anyone is interested)