Fruit additions: during primary or secondary ferm?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by BoardwalkBock, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. BoardwalkBock

    BoardwalkBock Devotee (484) Aug 18, 2012 New York

    Hey all,

    I’m going to brew a citra wheat ale next week and plan on using 3 lbs of blackberries I saved from my garden this year. I also plan, since my local produce shop just got new shipments, to add carambola to this mix. I’ve always wanted to use carambola in a beer for its slight sweetness and tartness as it is one of my favorite fruits of all time, but the yields are really unpredictable and I never know when they will come around - hard to plan a beer around this!

    My main question is: when should I add the fruit to the beer? Primary fermentation or secondary fermentation? I plan on making a puree for more surface contact with the insides of the fruits. I’ve only used fruit in beer once - blackberries I added to a blonde ale during secondary for a few days. The color was there but the flavor was pretty muted (I also added whole berries, not a puree). Which stage would work best? IMO, adding the puree during primary fermentation would limit the chance for infection, but I want to get the most out of the fruit flavor and wouldn’t want to leave the beer in the primary sitting on the trub/yeast cake for 2-3 weeks. Also, do you think 2-3 weeks is enough time to get a legitimate flavor contribution, or could I shoot for less time?

  2. BoardwalkBock

    BoardwalkBock Devotee (484) Aug 18, 2012 New York

    Also forgot to include potentially adding the puree to the beer for the last 10 mins of the boil? I’ve never done this. Would the flavor really be there? Also, this would add more sugar (albeit glucose) to the wort, correct? Don’t really want this to mess with my gravity.

    Lastly, I could see the puree really clogging my kettles outflow.

    Edit: then again, adding the puree during primary fermentation would also add more sugar...I’ll wait for some responses but I’ve been leaning towards adding to the secondary.

    Edit 2: I should have mentioned I am looking to get the most out of the fruit in terms of flavor. It seems that this would be best acheived post-fermentation. This increases risk of contamination so I would need to pastuerize the fruit. Looking for suggestions on pastuerization!
    #2 BoardwalkBock, Nov 9, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
  3. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,475) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    For the best flavor retention, secondary is the way to go. Regarding pasteurization, I have done many fruit beers, and I have never pasteurized. With fresh fruit I wash, freeze, and thaw. Freezing doesn't kill everything, but it lowers the risk greatly, and the alcohol already in the beer helps too. I've never had an issue this doing it this way, and I know many others who also do it this way with no problems.
    chavinparty, frozyn and BoardwalkBock like this.
  4. BoardwalkBock

    BoardwalkBock Devotee (484) Aug 18, 2012 New York

    Perfect. All my blackberries are already frozen, as I picked them back in August. Fruit flies also tend to lay eggs in blackberries so I usually freeze them in water and when they thaw out, the eggs are removed.

    Now for a follow up: do you think 3 lbs of blackberries for a 5 gallon batch is too much? I saw a table somewhere (can’t remember off the top of my head) which showed 0.5 lb/2 gallons of blackberries/beer. I want the blackberry flavor to show up but not dominate. Looking for it to work in harmony with the citra.
  5. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,475) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    I haven't used blackberries in beer, but my understanding is that they impart significantly less flavor than raspberries, and I can say for sure that 3 lbs of raspberries in 5 gallons would not be too much. So educated guess wouldn't be too much for blackberries.
  6. BoardwalkBock

    BoardwalkBock Devotee (484) Aug 18, 2012 New York

    Haha thanks!
  7. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Aspirant (292) Nov 10, 2010 Virginia

    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  8. secondbase

    secondbase Initiate (55) Jun 3, 2015 Tennessee

    With blackberries really need at least 2#/gallon to come through. In my experience they are subtle and will not dominate like raspberries, cherries and apricots do. I've made a few sours with blackberries and even at 2#/gal I was wanting more blackberry.
  9. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Disciple (398) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    secondary all the way.
  10. BoardwalkBock

    BoardwalkBock Devotee (484) Aug 18, 2012 New York

    I’ve got this beer fermenting away in my FC right now. My OG came in at 1.045 when I expected 1.047. This is definitely due to the fact that my immersion chiller tubing shot open for a few minutes without notice and shot approximately .5 gallons of water into my finished wort. Never had that issue so I need to do some troubleshooting before I brew my belgian tripel next week.

    I’ve got about 3 days left in primary judging on current fermentation levels. I’m going to dry hop in the primary today, and move the beer to secondary on top of the blackberries after the weekend.

    I’ll report back with results.
  11. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,262) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado