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Old 02-16-2008, 06:25 PM   #1
SteveM
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Default Raspberry Ale

Raspberry Ale

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Recipe Type: Extract
Yeast: Nottingham Dry Ale
Yeast Starter: None
Additional Yeast or Yeast Starter: None
Batch Size (Gallons): 5
Original Gravity: Unknown
Final Gravity: Unknown
IBU: Unknown
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Color: Pale pink
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 14 days, cool room temp
Additional Fermentation: 14 days, cool room temp
Secondary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 14 days, cool room temp


I've gotten in the habit of making a Raspberry Ale every fall for the holidays. This past year I used black raspberries but red are fine also. Red are much cheaper to buy off-season but they are about the same price when you buy them in season.

I use about 5 3/4 to six gallons of water to start. A lot gets left behind during racking because the product is so cruddy during brewing. This leaves you a decent amount to bottle by the time you are done. Since you really do have two stage fermentation (the fruit sugars will ferment in the second stage) this extra water does not seem to appreciably affect the strength of the beer. I always use spring water but use whatever you prefer.

In the primary, I used 3 lbs of Munton extra light DME and 3 lbs of Carlson dry rice solids. The brands are not important - but to get a nice pale base color that will show the raspberry color you need to use real pale extracts. Rice is about colorless and flavorless, which makes it well suited for this brew.

Therefore also no steeping grains. The lack of steeping grains will keep the color very light but it will also affect head retention. It will take longer for you to get a nice head that holds up a while, but that's OK because for this brew you really need to let it age. Opening one that is a week in the bottle will probably produce disappointment.

I use a light hop load for my raspberry ales (in contrast to most of my brews) because a lot of hoppiness can mask the raspberry flavor. For my last batch I used just 2 oz of Mount Hood 3.8%, half at 15 minutes and half at 45 minutes.

The specific hops chosen is much a matter of personal taste. I just made a red ale using Amarillo hops (along with Williamette) and I have a feeling that Amarillo's strong and fairly distinctive flavor might really complement the raspberries. Next fall, I will probably try this.

I normally use about 3 lbs of fresh raspberries for a five gallon batch. You can buy them fresh in late summer just about anywhere but I like produce stores. They usually have the best prices and the freshest inventory. Grocery stores are usually higher priced. I like fresh but frozen will also work, if you miss the season. I've used more but as I keep piling up those six ounce containers, little dollar signs start spinning in my head. If you are in a place where they grow raspberries they might be cheaper. Black ones will give a more distinctive color but the flavor is about the same either way.

I give the basic brew a week or two in the fermenter, then rack to a secondary and add my fruit. I pasteurize the fruit by putting it into a pot with enough water to cover the fruit and bringing it to about 160F for ten or fifteen minutes. Stir it to keep it from scorching. Then it all goes into the secondary. I use a sanitized wide mouthed funnel to pour this "fruit slurry" (even without boiling it will become semi-mush) into the secondary.

I tried to buy a suitable wide mouth funnel but was not satisfied with anything I found. The handiest one I have can be easily duplicated - I use the top of a two liter soda bottle.

Even with four pounds the raspberry flavor has never been overwhelming. Using real fruit results in a lot more evolution of the flavor over time. Extracts seem to be much more stable in taste but also seem to have an artificial feel in their taste - hard to describe but that's how it felt to me.

Anyway, after a week or two in the secondary, I siphon the carboy out into a third stage to allow it to clear (it will be very cruddy at the end of the second stage). I give it yet another week or two to settle and clear, then bottle.

I have this in fermenters for a total of about five or six weeks. I started my current batch in late September and bottled it in early November. It was acceptable by Thanksgiving but really was in it's prime by Christmas, and is still improving. It takes a good month or six weeks to really hit its stride but the results are great. The raspberry flavor is a presence but not the dominant taste, and the brew is nicely astringent.

One more point - using extracts (normally just dumped into the bottling bucket along with your priming sugar) does not give you any kind of unusual coloring in your beer. This is a drawback in my opinion but the process is much easier - I just do two weeks of primary, then bottle. If you use extracts, you would not use extra water (described above). You could use a second stage even with fruit extract if you like to do that - in my experience rice solids result in a "loose" trub and take longer to clear compared to what we are used to with barley malt.

I've used both extract and real fruit and in my opinion the extra work (and cost) in using real fruit is definitely worth it.

Good luck with this - let me know how it turns out.

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Old 09-21-2008, 07:54 PM   #2
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Just wondering if anyone has had a chance to try this one out?

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Old 10-21-2008, 03:48 AM   #3
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I just had a couple of these and it turned out very well. It has the pale pink color and good raspberry flavor that I have not been able to acheive before. The raspberry is definitely the strongest and most noticeable flavor, however it is not like you are drinking fruit juice. Its a blonde ale with raspberry flavor. I will definitely make it again and highly recommend the procedures (even the homemade funnel). Here are some notes:

My fermentation was only 24 days because I really needed the fermenters to start brewing something else.

Observations above are based on only 24 days in the bottle, however it needs to age longer.

OG = 1.036 @80*, FG = 1.009 @70*, 75% attenuation, 3.5% abv.

I used 3lb light DME and 1lb dry rice solid.

I used Wyeast, 1332 Northwest Ale yeast as the store was out of Nottingham.

Hops were Centennial, .5 oz at 50 min and .5 oz at 10 min.

When pasteurizing the fruit, use minimal water. I had too much and the fermenter overflowed.

Next time I will probably add Belgian Candi Sugar to make it sweeter. For comparison, I like Leinenkugel's Berry Weiss or Spanish Peaks Honey Raspberry.

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Old 10-23-2008, 12:09 AM   #4
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Congratulations on taking a shot at this and having such success, and thanks for adding your thoughts. I'm flattered and honored that someone has decided to have a go at this, and pleased that it turned out well.

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Old 12-20-2008, 03:23 PM   #5
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Steve... I am about to make a raspbery beer myself coming up soon. The last two times I have used artificial flavoring and it turned out well. My question is where do you get your raspberries? Do you use frozen? I have seen brewer grade raspberries before but now I am having a hard time finding them. If I use fresh how do I handle sanitizing them? I typically keg but this batch I will probably just bottle to let the raspberry flavor mellow out.

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Old 12-20-2008, 03:29 PM   #6
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I have a Razzberry Ale recipe in my sig... I created it a couple years back, it was a big hit. I used fresh raspberries from my garden... froze them to break the cell walls, then pasteurized at 150F for about 15 minutes. I then dumped them in the secondary and racked the beer on top. Check out the recipe, it explains how I did it there too.

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Old 12-20-2008, 04:29 PM   #7
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Sounds good... I am going to brew this on Monday.

BTW... I love that you have 8 kegs. My wife bought me one and said that is all I needed. over the last year 3 additional kegs have "randomly walked into my house".

I have a christmas spice ale on tap right now myself. Smelled great when I brewed it but the flavors are very subtle unless I am eating at the same time. Food really brings out the flavors for me.

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Old 12-20-2008, 04:33 PM   #8
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Yeah, the Holiday Ales are awesome this time of year. Still trying like heck to kick my Oktoberfest! When I get my electric HERMS conversion complete in the next 4 weeks, I will be able to ge my last two kegs filled!

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Old 12-20-2008, 10:10 PM   #9
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I usually go to produce markets - they are all over the Philly area but I'm not sure if every city has them. A well known chain here is Produce Junction but there are plenty of independents.

Seventh and eighth paragraphs above (i.e., about half way down) discuss acquiring and pasteurizing. That's a lot of paragraphs to describe making a beer!

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Old 12-22-2008, 03:42 AM   #10
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I got mine at Costco. I called ahead of time and they were able to tell me the date they were delivered so I knew they were fresh.

I brewed this on 9/1. Of course I started tasting it early. I would say it really tasted best starting around 12/1, so 3 months time from cooking until its ready.

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