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Old 11-07-2009, 10:31 PM   #1
Bradinator
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Default The proper use of raisins for beer

I am planning on trying my hand at an Oatmeal Raisin stout next weekend, but I am unsure of the best method for adding raisins to the brew. I am looking to give it a hint of raisiny-goodness to the beer. This will be an extract, with specialty grains (ei: the oats, choco-malt, etc).

Do I add the raisins to the oat/malt grain bag? Do I add them at them to the fermentor and filter them out at bottling? Do I pitch it directly into the wort? And if I do that should I blend the raisins into the LME first?

Advice appreciated!

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Old 11-07-2009, 10:43 PM   #2
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Put the raisins in a cake and use 125g of Special-B or CaraAroma malt in your beer.

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Old 11-08-2009, 04:02 AM   #3
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I've actually used raisins and prunes in a holiday brew. I chopped them and put them in the kettle at flame out, staying behind with the spent hops when transferred to the carboy. Sorry to say the brew turned out pretty nasty, tasted like a bad fruit cake. I think if you are conservative and go with an ounce or so you should be safe.

I noticed the mention of oatmeal but nothing about a mash. The oats really need to be converted.

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Old 11-08-2009, 08:00 AM   #4
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I brewed a dark Belgian Strong Ale with 1.5 *pounds* of raisins about 9 years ago. Came out great, actually. Even for that beer, though, I would have cut that in a third at least. Raisins pack a lot of flavor. Dunno with a stout but maybe try 2 oz or something to see how it goes. Don't think it'd overwhelm at that level.

I mixed mine with warm water, let 'em sit for a bit to soften up, then threw them in a blender and made a puree. I brought the puree up to 170 and kept if there for the last 15 minutes or so of the boil (in its own pan, not in the wort), then dumped them into the wort at knockout.

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Old 11-08-2009, 11:18 AM   #5
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I would treat the raisins like any other fruit, which usually means introducing to the beer near the end of fermentation (usually in a secondary container). This is what I would do: After about a week of fermentation, chop up the raisins coarsely. Pour some boiling water over then and let them sit for 10-15 minutes to pasteurize them. Then add them to a secondary container and rack the beer on top of them. They will provide more sugars, so fermentation should kick up a bit. Not sure how much to try, but in my opinion 2 oz seems too little, especially for a stout. Of course, MattHollingsworth's puree method above will probably extract more flavor so you could get away with less.

Also, I would add some Crystal 120/150 or Special B to the grain bill. These dark crystal malts should give you some rasiny flavors.

Lastly, try to get raisins that do not contain sulfur dioxide, which is a preservative and could limit the yeast and possibly a sulfury flavor/aroma). Though the amount you are going to add to this brew is small enough that I imagine it would be of little consequence if you can't find unsulfured raisins.


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Old 11-08-2009, 03:06 PM   #6
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In bowl mixed with nuts and pretzels.

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Old 11-08-2009, 07:10 PM   #7
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I added a half pound of golden raisins to a 1.085 holiday saison that I've got in secondary right now. I added a bit of water to them, carmelized them in a pan for a bit, and added them to the wort in the last 5 minutes of the boil. The beer tastes amazing, but there's definitely a haze to it that I attribute to pectin from the carmelization and boil.

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Old 11-08-2009, 07:10 PM   #8
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I'm not sure if it's proper but for the Belgian quad I'm preparing to do I am to take 1lb of raisins and chop them up and boil them hard in a quart of the first runnings. Then add that to the full boil.

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Old 11-08-2009, 07:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bsquared View Post
I'm not sure if it's proper but for the Belgian quad I'm preparing to do I am to take 1lb of raisins and chop them up and boil them hard in a quart of the first runnings. Then add that to the full boil.
Hahaha! Not proper? Everything we're talking about is *not proper*! Don't know if I'd want to boil off all the aroma like that, but who care's what's proper? Hope yours comes out tasty!
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Old 11-09-2009, 04:48 PM   #10
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Hey thanks everyone for the advice. So the general concenous is either "don't use'em" or "chop'em up and then use them". I like the idea of adding them near the end of the boil.

Quick newb question - What was meant by Converting the oats? How is that different from the specialty grain pre-boil steep?

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