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Old 04-19-2010, 12:27 AM   #1
Gofastr1
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Default How much cherry?

I've just brewed my third batch, 10g of an AG stout, and plan to add cherries (no extract flavoring) to at least one of the 5g fermentors. I've searched for some subjective guidance on what kind of cherry to add (fresh/frozen/puree), how much to add, and when (kettle/primary/secondary), but don't find a lot of talk about how much fruit flavor the beer had from X amount of cherry.. so I'm asking.

I have listened to Jamil's bit on fruit beers, and takeaway that a good base is key, more robust beers take more fruit to get flavored, go lower on the IBU, higher ABV beers will express the fruit more, and putting fruit in the primary is least favorable.

My beer deets:
Stout (not sweet, but not sure what to call it), 21% dark grains, ~41 IBU, OG of 1.083, target FG of 1.018, one 5g each fermenting on Wyeast Irish and Pacman ales. I plan to add cherries into the primary, after initial fermentation wanes (which may be on ~day 3, given the rate it's going at 71F on day 1). Then it'll go into secondary on ~ 1/2# cacao nibs and 1&1/2 vanilla beans for about three weeks. Then bottled and (if I can restrain myself) cellared 6-8 months.

I want a smooth chocolate flavor, with just an afterthought of cherry in this stout. If anyone ever had Silver Plume Brewery's (now closed) Raspberry Porter, that's the idea. I've got a 3# can of Oregon sweet cherry puree, and 4# of frozen black cherries.

Share some thoughts/experiences on cherry intensity please!

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Old 04-19-2010, 01:58 AM   #2
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I've made several fruit beers over the years and used real, frozen, puree and juice. For real fruit, for a 5 gallon batch of porter I made, I added 10# of fruit (about the same grain proportions you mention) and I could barely taste the cherries. I typically add about 10# of fruit (real) for a 5 gallon batch. For juice, I would add about 3-4 of the containers that make about 1/2 gallon/5 gallons. Frozen, I add about the same as real. I made a lambic once with puree and added cherry puree at 64 oz/5 gallon (cost of about $20). Looking back, I would have added about double to get a better fruit taste for the lambic.

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Old 04-19-2010, 07:56 PM   #3
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Are we talking about sweet cherries or tart? BIG difference. Last winter I did a 1.070 sweet stout with tart cherries. I had purchased a 10# bucket of frozen cherries from a winery in WI and used half of it, along with the juice. The cherry was not overpowering but stronger than I wanted and much more than what it seems you're talking about. It did settle down after a year but I still think I'd call it more than "an afterthought". As with anything, fruit varies a bit on what exactly you'll get out of it. Err on the side of caution and TASTE as you go along. You can always add more but you can never take away (unless you blend it). Definitely don't start with 10# as suggested above because depending on the cherries, you may regret it.

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Old 04-22-2010, 03:31 PM   #4
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Whatsleftofyou - are you thinking that tart cherries will have stronger effect than sweet?
I guess my original question may be too subjective. Have read posts that rate the cherry flavor as "barely perceptible/subtle hint" for anywhere from 1.5 to 10#, and another that suggested a "pretty strong" flavor from 5#, all in 5 gallons of stout.
Think I'm starting with 2# puree and 2# frozen into each 5g, at day 5 of primary. That'll give me the chance to taste and add if desired when racking to secondary.

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Old 04-22-2010, 07:44 PM   #5
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I tried tart cherry concentrate in a wheat beer recently, it was waaaay too tart, I'd stick to the sweet cherries, especially if you want a subtle flavor.

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Old 04-22-2010, 11:24 PM   #6
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Tart will definitely be more noticeable. Which you use really depends on what you're going for. I agree with what you say about people having differing experiences, which is why I think it varies greatly on the fruit itself and you should start low. I had people telling me to put 10# in my sweet stout. Had I done that, it would've ruined the beer.

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Old 04-23-2010, 12:29 AM   #7
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I made a cream/sweet stout and racked half of the batch (approx. 2 1/2 gallons) onto one can of the Oregon pureed cherries - it was perfect, just an undertone of cherry tart flavors. The fermentation that started up ate up all the fruit sugars and just left a nice, subtle tart cherry hint.

http://www.singingboysbrewing.com/sweet-stout.html and http://www.singingboysbrewing.com/cherry_stout.html

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Old 04-30-2010, 04:03 AM   #8
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Update - On day 5 in primaries, I added 1/2 can (~1.5#) of Oregon puree on the Pacman (which was 1.020 pre-add) and 2# frozen on the Irish (1.025). Gotta say the Oregon puree looked and tasted a little prune-like, especially compared to the frozen which was bright and sweet. After 5 days on the fruit (10 total in primary), I tasted: barely a hint of cherry in the finish with the Pacman, and an almost medicinal sweetness - but not really cherry - in the Irish.

Figuring I'd lose some cherry and sweetness in both over rest of primary and weeks in secondary, and knowing the cacao nibs to come in secondary will boost bitterness, I added another 1/4 can of Oregon puree to Pacman and 1# frozen to Irish.

More to come on the stouts. Also distracted myself with 10g of American Wheat I brewed a week after the stout. Both 5g ferms spiked with .75# Ohgave! brand agave nectar - one natural honey flavored, one amber.

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Old 08-14-2010, 12:28 PM   #9
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Update #2 - OK so summer got me busy with other stuff...

I transferred these to secondaries on day 15 at 1.018 gravities. The medicinal sweetness of the Irish was gone and cherry was evident; the Pacman had noteable cherry in it - both were really good. In each secondary, I'd added 7oz cacao nibs and 1 & 1/2 vanilla bean (cut in 1/2, split lengthwise).

This is where summer came along, and my planned 3 weeks in secondaries became 8 weeks... oh well! Eventually I kegged the Pacman version and bottled the Irish. Intended to give these 3+ months for that chocolate to mellow... but you all know how that goes.

1.5 months later, the Pacman keg is super chocolatey on top of a nice stout base, the cherry is barely evident; overall the beer is very soft, smooth and complex. It'd be great if the chocolate mellowed a little more with aging.. but we'll see. The Irish (bottled) has a real nice balance of chocolate and evident but not strong, clean cherry flavor. It doesn't seem to have the depth/softness of the Pacman. Most interesting is that the chocolate isn't near as big as in the Pacman keg, given the cacao nib additions were identical.

I'll post once more after another few months for a final verdict, and after a few better experienced brewbuds taste it. If I were to do this again right now, I'd go with fresh cherries and the Pacman yeast..

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Old 08-14-2010, 03:11 PM   #10
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Thanks for the updates.

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