Brewmaster's blog

Winter Ale

Our next beer is coming on tap.

I have been pondering about that beer for quite some while.

Can you add fruits to a beer in order to make them blend in with the malt base? Or how could you combine malt and something extra, like for example black currants?

What should the malt base be like? Do you want to end up with a rather dry, semi dry or sweet beer? What kind of flavor or overall feature should the fruits add to the beer?  Hot side/cold side addition? Is the aroma/flavor affected by temperature? What would be the negative side effects or risks? How much is too much and how little is not enough? How does the fruit addition effect the fermentation and its byproducts?

…. no clue!

So, as always or up until now, I went with the gut feeling and just made that beer.

The idea was to have a semi strong beer with a moderately elevated content of residual sugars, juicy mouth feel and slightly tart finish. The aromas should contain fruity berry notes, a strong malt flavor/aroma and hints of chocolate. The berry flavor/aroma was supposed to be somewhere in the background. Recognizable without being obtrusive.

And then you start mixing stuff in your head. It actually took a couple of weeks to bring the idea on paper. But in the end the recipe turned out to be quite good on paper.

When it came to the brew, it was more or less standard. Just the berries worried me, because black currants contain lots of pectin, which might/will lead to a permanent haze when exposed for too long to high temperatures. That might be the reason, why it has generally been used just rarely and I haven’t seen any recipe using it on the hot side. But, what the heck, let’s go for it. And so I added them to the hot side and tried to be extra careful not to extract too much of the pulp.

What is it like after two months?

The degree of fermentation could have been a bit higher. The resulting beer is just a tad sweeter than it should have been. (Edit: had to get another sip from the sales tank, I don’t know, maybe it could have been even sweeter 🙂 ). Malt … yes. Berry flavor/aroma … yes. chocolate … yes. Some alcohol in the nose … a bit.

I find it to be quite a subtle brew with some sort of wine/winey character to it. Must be from the berries! The beer is certainly juicy and leaves a tangy malty aftertaste in your mouth. In the nose you can detect also the aroma hops.

It is constantly changing. First all berries, than the malt, and right now it feels as if it would dry out a bit. And it tasted different when being taken  from the tank and now the sales tank.

What to say, this particular brew really grows on me. Didn’t have and didn’t brew anything like that before.

And as always, you only know, what you’ve got, after you had your first pint from the tap.