Back to the Garden
Traditionally fruit was used to sweeten sour beer, i.e.: raspberry syrup in a Berliner Weisse or add flavor and balance to sour beer i.e.: Krieks, Framboise, Peche, and Cassis. Nowaday, there are many fruit and vegetable beers. Here’s a list to get your creative juices flowing:
· Winter Squash
· Sweet Potatoes
· Grapes (Red & White Wine varieties juice)
· Paw Paw
· Husk Cherries
· Citrus (Orange, Grapefruit, Lime, Lemon, Kumquats, Clementine’s, etc.)
One way to get natural fruit flavor in your beer is by adding the fruit into the primary fermenter. The stronger the flesh of the fruit the easier it is to use in the brewing process. Since sanitation is so important you don’t want to introduce wild yeast from the fruit into the beer. Clean and rinse the fruit then soak it in a very light sanitizer solution for a couple minutes. You could buy pasteurized canned fruit, but I’m assuming everyone here wants to make real fruit beer. It does take around a pound of fruit per gallon, but it’s worth it. After sanitizing the fruit you want to freeze it to break down the pectin in the fruit. If you don’t want to freeze the fruit, you don’t have to. Your beer may have a pectin haze. To avoid a haze use a pectic enzyme. By freezing the fruit it allows you to use the fruit whenever you’re ready to brew it. You just add the frozen fruit into happen. Allow to ferment as usual. In a couple weeks rack your beer into a conditioning tank. Most of the fruit will float on top of the beer in primary after fermentation making it kind of easy to rack the beer and leave behind the fruit. With whole fruit fermentation it’s good to rack to a secondary conditioning vessel to allow the beer to clear up.
You can use the juice and zest of all citrus fruit. You can add juice and zest at the end of boil. Hill Farmstead is creating delicious citrus beer using lots of fresh citrus juice and zest. Paired with citrusy hop varieties these beers can be a tropical paradise.
Brewing with vegetables beyond the pumpkin. The most brewed vegetable every year is a pumpkin ale. Though much of the flavor of those beers come from the spices used. Creating more of a pumpkin pie beer than a pumpkin beer. Most vegetables are prepared the same way before being added to the beer. Most likely cut, de-seed, and peel the vegetables. Then you’ll need roast the vegetables in the oven until their cooked through. Add the cooked vegetable either to the mash or near the end of boil. In the mash for all grain makes it easy to clean. End of boil works well for extract brewing and provides better flavor to the finished beer, but can be a pain to clean up. If you are adding the vegetable with five to ten minutes left in the boil take the cooked vegetable and puree or mash it up best you can before adding to the kettle.
Other vegetables can be juiced. Carrot juice works great in earthy Saison’s and Belgian style beers. Cucumber juice or cucumber slices into secondary works well. Just clean and sanitize the outside of the vegetable before adding it to your beer.
Spices & Herbs
Before there was beer brewed with hops, there was Gruit, a grain based fermented beverage brewed with a mix of bittering and flavorful herbs and spices. Traditional gruit spices are mugwort, wormwood, myrica gale, black henbane and yarrow. Hops weren’t used with popularity until the late 17th century. Hopped beer is a recent trend in fermented malt beverages. Pierre Celis a renowned brewer famous for the revival of the Belgian style White Hoegaarden. This style is brewed with a focus on spices (orange peel and coriander) overs hops and sheds a light on what pre-hopped ales might have tasted like. Spices and herbs are fun to play around with, walk through the spice aisle and imagine the possibilities. Start conservative with amounts added at end of boil. Start with a teaspoon or two. You can always add more later, but you can’t take it out once it’s in there. Here’s a short list of possibilities:
· Orange Peel (bitter and sweet)
· Coffee (cold infusion)
· Chocolate (nibs, powder)
· Cinnamon (or use Meadowsweet)
· Vanilla (pod, extract)
· Juniper Berry
· Grains of Paradise
· Smoked Paprika
· Fennel Seeds
· Heather (traditional in Scottish ales)
· Ginger (raw, crystallized)
· Black/Green Tea
· Spruce (new growth tips)
· Hot Chilies
· Lemon/Lime Peel
· Star Anise
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