Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Brew Day - Berry Beer

So now that we're through the holidays and through January, I figure it’s time to plan a few different batches of beer for spring.  I started with Chilort's Raspberry & Blackberry Beer and modified based on the ingredients that I have available here. The goal here is something light, refreshing and tasty that we’ll have for those days in spring when Mrs. Thirsty and I are sitting on the balcony in the sun. 
Berry Beer
Batch Size: 10.25L             Type: Extract / Partial Boil             Boil Size: 6.7L             Boil Time: 60min

Calculated OG: 1.064      Measured OG: 1.061            Calculated FG: 1.013       Bitterness: 18.1IBUs

Yummy baby Berry Beer in the Carboy

Grain Bill
1.75 kg Rice Syrup - Boil for 60min
0.70 kg Raspberries, Frozen - Boil for 10min
0.30 kg Blackberries, Frozen - Boil for 10min
0.30 kg Caramelized Wildflower Honey - Flameout
0.60 kg Mixed Berries, Frozen – Added to secondary for 7 days

Hop Schedule
10.00 g Tettnang [4,50 %] - Boil 60,0min
10.00 g Tettnang [4,50 %] - Boil 30,0min
10.00 g Tettnang [4,50 %] - Boil 15,0min

0.5 pkg SafBrew Ale (DCL/Fermentis #S-33)

So I started with the honey, adding it to a small pot with 1 tablespoon of water and about half a teaspoon of lemon juice. I put this over low heat, constantly stirring until it started simmering. I let it simmer for 10 minutes before removing it from the heat and setting it to the side.

Early in the Fermentation process, notice how light it is

Following the timing identified in the Grain Bill/Hop Schedule, the boil was rather easy. My stove top doesn't seem to be hot enough to maintain a full, hard boil of that much water without a top on the kettle so I generally keep the top about 75% on the kettle and just be cautious of boil over.  Even with that caution, there were two times the wort beat me and it boiled over onto the stovetop, though the smell wasn’t terrible, almost like cotton candy.
When I added the berries, I paused the boil timer and let the kettle come back to a hard boil before I continued.   I’ve read and been told that by adding the berries to the boil, I’ve introduced the naturally occurring Pectin in the berries to my beer.  Pectin is a gelling agent that is used when making jams and jellies, that helps the product set.  Pectin is found in high concentrations in hard fruit (like apples and pears) and citrus fruit but in much lower concentrations in the berries I used.  The problem with pectin is that it is insoluble in alcohol, so as the alcohol content in the beer increases, the more the pectin will appear, making the beer cloudy.  Now, I’m willing to accept a little cloudiness, though if my order for Pectolytic Enzyme shows up before I bottle, I’ll toss some in and see what happens.

A sample of the berries I plan on using in secondary.
Raspberries, Blackberries, Blue Berries & Red Currents

I chilled the whole batch in the snow outside for about 40 minutes, poured it through a strainer into the carboy, topped off with boiled/cooled water and withdrew a hydrometer sample. I set this aside to come to room temp and pitched the yeast. The yeast was rehydrated in about 250ml of warm water, starting when the wort was put out to chill.
When I checked the next morning the airlock was burbling nicely at about 2 bubbles per second and some of the hops had floated up to the top. It’s a really deep pink colour and is definitely not clear but hopefully it’ll settle out over the next couple weeks.  After 2 weeks I plan to rack this on top of some more berries for a weeks before bottling.

Well, here comes the waiting game, damn I wish I was more patient.
Photos courtesy of Mrs. Thirsty