Blackberry Saison (over 2 lbs blackberries per gallon)

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Push_the_limits, Jul 30, 2019.

  1. Push_the_limits

    Push_the_limits Initiate (42) Feb 8, 2018 Antarctica

    This thread will chronicle my experience making a blackberry saison. I hope it helps someone decide how to go about their own fruit beer.

    2 days ago I brewed up the wort and added the yeast. In 2-3 days I will add 11.5 lbs freshly-picked, locally-growing blackberries to the primary fermenter for about 10+ days. They are at the peak of their ripeness. I will freeze, thaw, and re-freeze these a few times to break the cells, then I will crush them a bit by hand through the bag. Next, I will put them in a mesh bag and add them to the primary. I do not plan to sanitize or sterilize them via heat, campden tablets, or other.

    According to this calculator, I determined that 11.5 lbs of blackberries might add about 0.5 - 0.6 % ABV in my 5.7 gallon brew. Seems low to me but we'll see.

    The recipe (5.7 gallons) has a target OG of 1.040. It's a partial mash recipe:

    ~Bill (mashed at 149 - 151 F for 60 mins and rested at 170 for about 5 minutes)
    3.5 lb Dry Pilsner Malt Extract (added at flameout)
    1 lb Abbey
    1 lb Ashburn Mild
    1 lb 6-row

    1 oz CTZ (Columbus-Tomahawk-Zeus) @ 65 mins
    1 oz Hallertau Blanc @ 10
    1 oz Hull Melon @ 5
    1 oz Pekko @ 5

    ~Yeast: French Saison WY3711 Pitched @ 72 F

    ~Blackberries: 11.5 lbs to be added after the major segment of fermentation has subsided.

    The measured OG ended up being 1.041. The wort, which was created using local spring water (I don't know the chemistry but it makes good beer), was quickly cooled and brought up to 5.7 gallons with near-freezing water. The WY3711 yeast was added and by morning the airlock had activity.

    Here is a photo of the 11.5 lbs of blackberries. (The bottom left side of the bag shows some frost because I froze the first round of picking.)


    Please stay tuned for the outcome.
    #1 Push_the_limits, Jul 30, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2019
  2. Granitebeard

    Granitebeard Initiate (110) Aug 24, 2016 Maine

    Will be interested to see what you say you get for flavor. I used about 1lb per gallon last year in a wheat and got subtle blackberry flavor. I added at secondary and had fermentation kick back off. My wheat dried right out with them too. I just used US-05 and finished around 1.004. More than I wanted. This year I will mash higher and pick the blackberries a little later as mine came out far to tart for my liking.
  3. Push_the_limits

    Push_the_limits Initiate (42) Feb 8, 2018 Antarctica

    Interesting. Considering I mashed at a fairly low temp and am using 3711, this should be a very dry one.

    Did you sanitize the blackberries at all? If not, you had no noticeable wild yeast?
  4. Granitebeard

    Granitebeard Initiate (110) Aug 24, 2016 Maine

    Yeah, I don't do saisons, but know they are supposed to be dry and you might be very dry.

    I did similar to you, I froze them and then allowed them to thaw, but then I heated them, holding them between 150 and 170 degrees, for about 15 minutes. Then I froze them again with all the liquid. I allowed them to come to room temp next to the bucket before racking the beer on top of them.
    Push_the_limits and riptorn like this.
  5. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (1,553) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    I don't know about that calculator, but adding any amount of blackberries is going to decrease the ABV of your beer. The juice from blackberries has a gravity of about 1.044 (which may be something like what the calculator is using), but they are about about 88% water and <5% sugar. So roughly half the gravity is coming from unfermentable stuff.
  6. minderbender

    minderbender Aspirant (222) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    Wait, really? So if I fermented blackberry juice into wine I would get an FG of around 1.022? I'm not saying you're wrong, this just seems surprisingly high.
  7. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (159) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    Will the low mash temperature have a significant impact on dryness, considering 3# was 'brewer-mashed' and 3.5# was DME?
    If my cipherin’ is correct, about 35% of the grain bill was OP mashed.
    Push_the_limits likes this.
  8. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (1,553) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Let's say exactly half of the 44 points is fermentable sugar (it's not, but close enough). So, 22 points that are completely fermentable. That's 100% actual attenuation of those points. 100% actual attenuation means about 122% apparent attenuation. 22 points x 122% = 27 points apparently attenuated. So the expected FG would be 1.044 - .027 = 1.017.

    Grapes, OTOH have less water, and a lot more sugar.
  9. Mongrel

    Mongrel Crusader (749) Feb 14, 2013 Maryland

    Will be excited to follow this one as I'm also gathering wild blackberries and planning a saison!
    Push_the_limits likes this.
  10. Push_the_limits

    Push_the_limits Initiate (42) Feb 8, 2018 Antarctica

    Last night, a little under 24 hours ago, I added all 11.5 lbs of blackberries. The fermentor really filled up, but luckily none spilled and there was enough room for fermentation. But just barely.

    Before adding the blackberries:
    Very slow bubbles in the airlock @ 65 F. SG = 1.007 (that's already 83% apparent attenuation after roughly 100 hours, with more to go...3711 for ya). Light golden yellow color, see picture. Definitely a Saison taste. Would have been a nice beer if left as is.

    Adding the blackberries:
    After freezing and thawing twice, the bag of blackberries was really juicy, and then even more so when I pressed them by hand through the bag. As planned, I added them to a mesh bag in the fermentor.

    Medium speed bubbles in the airlock within 1 hour. No gravity taken because it probably wouldn't have meant much. Sample was blood red, see picture. A significant flavor change, as expected. Kind of like an authentic Italian ice soda (not the fake corn syrup kind).

    Now, after almost 24 hours, there is no sign of contamination (yet). Flavor is really nice. I really don't think I would pinpoint blackberries if I didn't know, but it's still early in the game. However, it leaves a really nice and fresh juicy aftertaste -- very interesting. The blood red color has curiously mellowed out (see picture).
    riptorn and Eggman20 like this.
  11. Granitebeard

    Granitebeard Initiate (110) Aug 24, 2016 Maine

    Yeah my wheat was a peach, or what crayola might call a flesh color.

    And on the flavor, I noticed blackberry on the back end, but it might be different in the saison.
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  12. mikehayz

    mikehayz Initiate (67) Aug 11, 2012 Virginia

    May get a good bit of tannins from the blackberries. I usually let my blackberry saison bottle condition for at least four weeks and it's much better by then.
    Push_the_limits likes this.
  13. Push_the_limits

    Push_the_limits Initiate (42) Feb 8, 2018 Antarctica

    The Blackberry Saison was kegged yesterday. FG = 1.001!

    (photo is not intended to show the FG)

    The blackberries were sitting in the fermenting beer for over 10 days, and the beer itself fermented for over 15 days.

    It has an undeniable flavor and aroma contribution from the blackberries. It's peculiar and interesting, although hard to place. It's not exactly fruity or juicy, but it's complex and unique. As you can see from the picture, it's a purplish-pink. So far I'm happy with how this is turning out. It's not tart or tannic at this point, although it's pretty dry. But it doesn't dry out your mouth. The blackberries I picked weren't tart at all, so I'm not surprised there is no tartness. They key was picking really ripe and plump ones. I can't wait to try it when it's cold and bubbly.

    I'll get a picture up in several days when it's in the glass.

    By the way, the corny keg filled all the way and I had enough left over to bottle four 12oz and three 22oz. I can use these to compare any difference in the kegged vs the bottled beer.