Homebrewing with Fruit
Adding fruit to your homebrew is one way to change its flavor and make something truly unique! Although you can experiment and add fruit at any stage of the brewing process the most common is post boil. Meaning during or after primary fermentation. There are some pros and cons to both and it also depends on what type of fruit product you’re working with. In this article we will primarily focus on fresh fruit and fruit purees, as they are both essentially fresh fruit products. Not to say you shouldn’t use or experiment with fruit extracts. They actually are probably the easiest to work with and offer the biggest bang for the buck. They typically don’t add any extra sugar and the aroma/flavor they add stays consistent over time. But I digress, let’s keep it on the fresh tip!
Let’s start with Fruit Purees, we carry several options found above and they are readily available year round. The other benefit besides being readily available is they have already been pasteurized. This means you don’t have to worry about unwanted bacteria making its way into your beer that was present on the fruit. If you’re looking to add fruit to your beer without much hassle or worry these canned purees are definitely the way to go. I typically use 2 cans in a 5 gallon batch of beer. This will make the fruit pronounced and make it a very fruit forward beer. If you’re looking for a More! subtle fruit addition try using 1 can. The good thing about starting with 1 can is you can always add more if you want. I also typically add the fruit after primary fermentation is finished. The pro to this is you get more fruit flavor the con is you’re adding sugar that has not been fermented, so depending on your process you can and will see some re-fermentation. In a conical fermenter with the ability to crash the temperature, you can drop out all the yeast prior to adding the fruit puree. This doesn’t mean you won’t see some, but it greatly helps.
Ok let’s talk a little bit about using fresh fruit, nothing beats the feeling of picking and using fresh fruit in your beer! Depending on your beer style though you might not want to simply chop up the fresh fruit and add it to your fermenter. That amazing fresh fruit definitely has some equally amazing Brett & Lacto cultures on it. So if you’re not making a mixed ferm sour beer you most likely want to try and kill off any bacteria on the fruit skins prior to adding. You can do this by soaking the fruit in a sanitizer like star san prior to cutting them up. We’ve had good success with this method and allows you to kill a majority of any bacteria present on the fruit skin. While we’re talking about fresh fruit it’s worth mentioned the flavor difference between fresh fruit and pasteurized fruit. Some people actually like pasteurized fruit flavor better as it’s jammier. If you’re looking for that jammy flavor you can even process your own fresh fruit this way by heating it in a pot on your stove top. Be sure not to overheat the fruit though! I typically blend the fruit down and try to keep it around 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 mins stirring it constantly so it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pot. Last but not least let’s talk amount of fresh fruit to use. I typically use about 1 pound per gallon of beer as a starting point. It really depends on the fruit as some have more flavor and aroma than other. For instance strawberries don’t come through easily so I would go 2-3 pounds per gallon, whereas Apricots you should be fine with 1 pound per gallon. Well we hope this helps and if you have any questions about brewing with fruit shoot us an email or call. Cheers!