Throwing Fruit in a Wild Beer

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by BedetheVenerable, Dec 5, 2012.

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  1. BedetheVenerable

    BedetheVenerable Meyvn (1,023) Sep 5, 2008 Missouri

    Made Northern Brewer's Kinderweisse Berlinerweisse earlier this year; it's gotten EXTREMELY Bretty, fermented down to around 1.010 or 1.009 or so, from 1.031, and is pretty dry. However, at 2.99% abv, there's NO flavor profile other than Bretty funk. That being the case, it's pretty one-dimensional. The lactic sourness may kick in eventually, but as per reviews of the beer, it may not. To make this more interesting, I thought about racking it onto fruit. I have 2-3 pounds of frozen, store-bought (i.e. prepped) whole strawberries and a pound or two of sour raspberries (frozen) from my parents' garden. I've never used fruit in a beer. Do I just dump the fruit in a carboy and rack the beer over? Any advice would be much appreciated!

    MMAJYK Defender (650) Jun 26, 2007 Georgia
    Industry Beer Trader

    Just thaw the fruit and toss it in, then rack on top. It's that easy.
  3. nicholasb

    nicholasb Initiate (142) Nov 13, 2005 Michigan

    Raspberries (and thimbleberries) work best. I wouldn't use the strawberries. Use 1-1.5 pound raspberries per gal. Thaw them in a sanitized bucket overnight and then rack on top of them. Give it some time. I've made wildberry saisons that I've conditioned for 6 months and they turn out great. Rack to tertiary before kegging if you want to clear it out. Bottling a fruit beer is a gamble.
  4. BedetheVenerable

    BedetheVenerable Meyvn (1,023) Sep 5, 2008 Missouri

    Thanks for the info! Just for my own curiosity: 1) why would you not use strawberries, and 2) what could go wrong with bottling a fruit beer? (the only 'kegging' system I have is a tap-a-draft which I don't want to infect).
  5. Brandonbrew

    Brandonbrew Initiate (0) Apr 6, 2011 Tennessee

    That's only 67% attenuation... Have you tried warming the carboy up and giving it a bit of a swirl? You should atleast be at 85%. I'm assuming you used the Wyeast Berliner Blend?

    Personally I'm not a fan of strawberries in beer. They get weird and rubbery IMO. If we are talking a 5 gallon batch I'd use about 3 to 3.5lbs of raspberries....but try to get that gravity on the base beer down a little more.
    TrinidadJ likes this.
  6. reverseapachemaster

    reverseapachemaster Aspirant (244) Sep 21, 2012 Texas
    Beer Trader

    Strawberries are tricky in beer. They usually don't develop good flavor because it's not an acidic fruit so when you ferment out the sugar and leave it in an acidic environment it just tastes sort of generic berry.

    I'm not familiar with the kit. Did it come with brett and not lactobacillus? You should have a lot of acidity and very little or no brett character. Unfortunately there's not a way to undo it and I would not expect lactobacillus to come back around and sour the beer after brett finishes eating everything. Your best bet at this point would be to add some very acidic fruit, like rhubarb, or dose the beer with lactic acid.

    There are no problems bottling fruit beers. The sugars in fruit are simple sugars easily fermented down to 1.000.
  7. BedetheVenerable

    BedetheVenerable Meyvn (1,023) Sep 5, 2008 Missouri

    Yup; it was in a room who's ambient temp moved between the upper sixties and mid seventies, and it's been in there for several months, and at least 3-4 weeks without having dropped any at all...I figured that meant it was done...not so?
  8. BedetheVenerable

    BedetheVenerable Meyvn (1,023) Sep 5, 2008 Missouri

    The Wyeast blend is listed as a neutral German ale strain, lactic acid bacteria, and a Brett strain from a now-defunct German brewery. I did read a review or two somewhere, however, that said that even after like 8-9 months in the secondary, there was NO sourness at all...he added lactic acid. The Brett is overpowering here, like a really, REALLY aged Matilda or something like that, except that at this meagre gravity, there's nothing BUT's like Bretty water...I'm trying to decide how to save this, or if there's any way.
  9. reverseapachemaster

    reverseapachemaster Aspirant (244) Sep 21, 2012 Texas
    Beer Trader

    After I posted I realized that's probably what they sold you. I really wish Wyeast would quit selling that blend. It's just not making good beer outside their labs.

    There's not an easy fix to un-brett a beer because brett consumes almost everything, even ethanol. You could stabilize the beer and add more beer to it with more lactobacillus but that's a lot of work and you could just end up with even more beer you aren't happy with. If you're a fairly new brewer it's probably more complicated than you want to get.

    Fruit wouldn't be a bad option but I think you need to get some acidity in there either way, so either some really acidic fruit needs to go in or you need to add lactic acid, which you can buy direct from homebrew shops. Rhubarb is pretty acidic so it's a good choice, especially if you want to blend it with some berries. You could add some fruit plus acid.

    You could feed it starches and/or maltodextrin and some pediococcus and commit to letting it sit for another year or so and hope the pedio gets in there and adds some sourness.

    Either way, it's a lot of work to try to fix a 3% beer. Personally when it comes to brett I find if you don't like the flavor today give it six months and it will probably be something different you like. If not, give it another six months. You probably don't want to commit that much time to either hoping it becomes something you like or adding more bacteria and waiting to see if that helps. I'd say bottle it and try to give it away or use it for blending in the glass with other beers. If you have a friend that's big into brett you'll probably make an even better friend letting him or her down all those bottles. Maybe trade away all that homebrew for some bottles of something you like.
    BedetheVenerable likes this.
  10. BedetheVenerable

    BedetheVenerable Meyvn (1,023) Sep 5, 2008 Missouri

    If the gravity has been stable over this length of time, is it safe to bottle, even considering the low attenuation (especially considering the Brett strain?). I'm still probably going to add some fruit and then a bit of lactic acid maybe, but it's the first time I've ever worked with brettanomyces, so how do I know when it's safe to bottle?
  11. BedetheVenerable

    BedetheVenerable Meyvn (1,023) Sep 5, 2008 Missouri

    I like your suggestion about blending. Since it is SO brett (probably brux?) forward, this would be perfect to blend a few ounces into an Old Ale to see if that whole 'English Stock Ale' thing that sounds so cool would actually suit my palate; thanks for the idea!
  12. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,599) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    Fruit will add some tartness, which may help.

    Another option would be to add some DME to raise the gravity; perhaps you would like the brettyness of the beer if it was higher gravity.

    A third option (and the one that I think might work out best) is to brew a beer and blend it with the brettano-weis (new hybrid style name!). I think this might be best because you could use a sacch strain and really control the ingredients and fermentation. It would require some judgement based on personal sensory perception to figure out what blend would enhance the original beer. I'm currently gearing up to do something along these lines, only in reverse. I have a beer that is higher gravity than I decided I want (a biere de garde) and fairly malty. I'm brewing a half batch of lower gravity Flanders sour brown to blend in with half the bdg. My hope is too dilute the original to a mid gravity, more sessionable drink, and to add some tartness and cherry pie bret flavor.
  13. ColForbinBC

    ColForbinBC Poo-Bah (1,980) Sep 9, 2005 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    I actually just bottled this beer. I split the batch into 5 one gallon batches, and added fruit to four: Mango, Pineapple, Blackberry, and Cranberry. The beer was not sour enough for my liking either. I ended up adding lactic acid at bottling. Mine finished at 1.003 with the 1.031 SG
  14. reverseapachemaster

    reverseapachemaster Aspirant (244) Sep 21, 2012 Texas
    Beer Trader

    The only problem is unless you are blending in a keg that is going to be kept cold, you plan on stabilizing the sour portion, or you plan on blending in your glass, the sour portion is going to chew down the clean portion. It's not a problem if that's your goal but if your goal is to keep some of the malty character of the bdg you won't be able to just mix and bottle.
  15. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,599) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    You are right that fine tuning a bug beer is not necessarily up to the brewer, and you may be right that the bugs will chew down the malty character of the beer I plan to make. They are the real brewers in this type of beer, at least at my skill level and experience (only 4x have I brewed with something other than sacch).

    However, my sour brown was first fermented with a sacch strain and then I added half a pack of rosealare. In 1.5 years, the beer got a little sour, developed some brett cherry character, and still had some residual character from the caramunich that I used in that beer. I suspect that the hop load and cool cellar temps kept the lacto from going to town (the temps may have lept Brett in check too).

    In the beer that I plan on blending, the bdg is pretty thoroughly fermented and has some hops that might suppress the lacto. However, I will be pitching a much bigger dose of bugs into it (think of it as pitching a 3 gallon starter as opposed to a partial smack pack - that's another story); it remains to be seen what they will do with it. I'll sample periodically. When I like the taste, I will bottle. I'll prime cautiously, give it some time to carbonate, then I will store at 32 degrees. In any event, I'm bottling half the bdg straight, so I'm OK with rolling the dice with the bugs.
  16. nicholasb

    nicholasb Initiate (142) Nov 13, 2005 Michigan

    You can bottle it, but you may want to go easy on the priming sugar, so it doesn't over-carbonate or burst. When I have bottled fruit beers I've used the big 25.4oz magnums and Rogue's thick-walled bottled with the wire clasp caps from their imperial series. I haven't had a problem with fruit beers infecting equipment, but maybe I've been fortunate.
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