The original plan for our latest beer was to make a Kriek Lambic, but the circumstances… they didn’t work out so well. First off, I found a good deal on some sweet cherries at a farmer’s market, not the sour Kriek cherries that are intended for the style. Then, our local homebrew shop was all out of lambic yeasts (must be a popular style this time of year – who knew?). So, we’re going to end up with some hybrid style, with a belgian style and cherry adjuncts, but probably not anything like we thought we were going to get when we started.
- 10lb Belgian Pils
- 1.5lb Flaked Wheat
- .5lb Caravienna
We mashed for a little over an hour at our standard temperatures (water temp around 170, about 150 by the time it actually mixes in with the grain) with about 4 gallons. We sparged with 165 degree water, with enough to get us up to 4.5ish total gallons. We let the water keep running out for extra wort, or a second running beer.
We had about 5 gallons of wort that we put into our carboy with a vial of WLP550 Belgian Ale Yeast. The extra wort (about 1 gallon) went into an Ale Pail with a bit more of the yeast We threw it in our brew closet for about a week and half. It developed quite a bit of trub down on the bottom. After about 10 days, we washed and microwaved or cherries to get the sterilized and tossed them into the Ale Pail. We mashed them up as best we could with our paddle, and racked the beer from the carboy to the pail. About a week later we bottled them.
The first thing we noticed when pouring this beer was a very nice, red color, even the head was a nice pinkish cream. There was a little bit of cherry in the nose with some of the ester notes you’d expect from a belgian. The taste is actually a little thin. There isn’t that much cherry flavor or belgian flavor. It is a solid tasting beer with an awesome color that finishes with a hint of the flavors we were going for. This was our first beer using fresh fruit, and, like usual, we learned some stuff. Mainly, you need to really macerate the fruit. Cherries, being a stone fruit, prevented us from using a blender or food processor, so we had to do it with a paddle. A lot of the cherries were completely whole, so didn’t contribute that much flavor to the beer.