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Old 03-19-2013, 04:44 AM   #1
pentirei
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Default Crafting my first Recipe - Strawberry Basil Wheat

As of right now I've only brewed one batch of beer, and my second is coming up, but as spring and summer are just around the corner, I want to have something refreshing ready to brew once I get my upcoming batch racked into my secondary.

Conversations with friends led me to the idea of making a strawberry basil beer, which I immediately thought would work best in a wheat beer. I want this brew to be simultaneously quaffable and interesting. Soooo, as I am new at this, I wanted to get some feedback on my (very tentative) extract recipe.

Here's what I'm thinking, for a 5 gallon batch.

.5 lb Cara 20L
.5 lb Carapils
6 lb Wheat LME
1 lb Golden Light DME
1 oz Cascade hops (boil 60 minutes)
.5 oz Belma hops (boil 30 minutes)
.5 oz Belma hops (aroma)*
1 oz fresh basil at flameout
2 pkgs rehydrated US-05 yeast**

Primary fermentation 3 weeks
Rack onto 6 lb strawberries***
Secondary fermentation 2 weeks

Rack into bottling bucket, prime with 5 oz corn sugar and bottle.

* Toying with the idea of dry hopping with another ounce of Belma. Whatcha think?

** I chose US-05 because it tends to ferment "clean," and also because it's apparently relatively more forgiving of temperature variations. Keeping my carboy a steady temp in my tiny Manhattan apartment without sophisticated temp control equipment isn't easy. Any thoughts on a more appropriate yeast strain?

*** The threads I've read about adding strawberries are many and varied. Because of the basil I want to make sure that the strawberry tastes/smells really fresh in the final product. Any consensus on the best way to go about doing this? Freeze them? Sanitize them? Puree?

Any other suggestions/tips/general wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 03-21-2013, 12:40 AM   #2
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This sounds CRAZY delicious, so please keep me updated on how it goes! Unfortunately, i don't have much experience in this area to share with you, but I might suggest that if you are concerned about the strawberry flavoring, you might consider adding a wee bit of lemon or lime. A bit of citrus will help brighten up the strawberry. :-D

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Old 03-21-2013, 01:17 AM   #3
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The 05 should work well and let the berry basil flavor shine. Not sure about the basil, but the consensus I've seen is 1-2 pounds per gallon fresh strawberries in the secondary. I guess it depends how much fruit flavor you want. you could always taste test and add some extract before bottling. to prep the berries, One option is to freeze them which breaks down the cell walls. Or you could just mash em fresh, and putting them in a nylon bag works well for extracting the fruit gunk. Either way, you might consider racking to a third vessel to allow the fruit crap to clear. Personally, i would sterilize the berries, either dunk them in starsan with the baggie before freezing or pasteurize by holding at 170 in a double boiler. Ive heard people just throw m in, but why risk an infection? .Let us know how it turns out!

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Old 03-21-2013, 02:19 AM   #4
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May I ask why you are considering the basil at flameout? I would be worried that I would "cook" the basil in the wort at that temperature (but I've never tried anything like that either). Would putting it in secondary be an option too?

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Old 03-21-2013, 04:09 AM   #5
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Basil is very delicate, and the heat of the boil will drive out the complexities of the flavor.

I would do a basil chiffonade (you might even do well crushing it in a mortar and pestle) and put it in a hop bag with a couple of sanitized marbles. Place that in secondary

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Old 03-21-2013, 03:32 PM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback! I was a little concerned about cooked basil, too, but I was worried that with the extra fermentables from the strawberries already present in the secondary, "dry basiling" would be another risk for contamination. Do you think I have anything to worry about there? When exactly should I add it to the secondary?

Thanks again! I'll definitely let you know how this turns out, but it's a plan still in the pipeline so it may be awhile before I can report back on it.

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Old 03-22-2013, 03:12 AM   #7
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I'd make 2.5 gals just in case it isn't so good. You can soak the basil in a little vodka to sanitize and extract the flavor, dump it all in secondary. I made a cilantro-lime Pale Ale that turned out well and "dry cilantro'd" in secondary with the vodka method.

For temp control, just put the fermenter in a tub 'o water. Control temp as needed with ice bottles.

You can primary a half batch in whatever your normal primary fermenter is, then get a 3 gal better bottle to secondary half batches.

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Old 04-17-2013, 05:56 AM   #8
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Quick update:

Brewed this today, with a few tweaks. OG was 1.052, right on target.

Only had a half pound of DME so I ended up throwing in a half pound of honey to compensate as the wort was chilling. I also used Citra instead of Belma as it was easier to get a hold of. The wort is too bitter, thanks to me checking the alpha % on Beersmith and not on the package beforehand (doh!), but I'll survive. Since I'm using more strawberries than initially planned, I've added some lactose to compensate for the inevitable tartness that will accompany them.

I'm using the Succulent Strawberry Blonde method of simply racking onto 7 lbs of frozen organic strawberries from Trader Joe's, and one fresh ounce of fresh basil that I'll soak briefly (around an hour) in vodka before tossing into the beer.

Keeping my fingers crossed. The wort really is significantly more bitter than I anticipated, so I hope that doesn't mess up the finished product.

So the recipe is therefore amended to:

.5 lb Cara 20L
.5 lb Carapils
6 lb Wheat LME
.5 lb Golden Light DME
.5 lb clover honey
1 oz Cascade hops (boil 60 minutes)
.5 oz Citra hops (boil 30 minutes)
.5 oz Citra hops (aroma)
.5 lb lactose
2 pkg US-05 yeast

After primary fermentation is complete, rack into secondary onto:

7 lbs frozen strawberries
1 oz fresh basil soaked in vodka

Let infuse 1 week. Afterwards rack to tertiary, wait for beer to settle/clear, then add 5 oz priming sugar and bottle!

Thanks for your suggestions, everyone -- keep your fingers crossed for me.

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Old 04-17-2013, 12:54 PM   #9
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I've only brewed a few batches but I've ALWAYS found that the wort is way more bitter than "I want it to be" but by the time it ferments and conditions that bitterness tones down to where it should be. I wouldn't be worried about it too much until you get fermentation going. Sounds good. Let us know how it goes!

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Old 04-17-2013, 01:03 PM   #10
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Don't even think about boiling basil. You'll destroy the aroma.

I don't know that plain old vodka has enough sanitizing power at 80 proof. You need 66% abv to kill bacteria. It might give you peace of mind, but I don't know that it is even doing anything at all. I personally wouldn't worry about it because it's not like the basil is covered with dirt & bugs, and you're adding it to the secondary, which is no longer easily infectable, sugary wort.

Give it a soak/rinse with ice cold water, then chiffonade (roll into a cigar shape and slice fine on a diagonal into thin strips with a sharp knife). Be careful not to bruise it, smash it, or coarsely chop it. You don't want it to turn black or release any bitter flavors. I would consider upping it to 2.5 to 3 oz.

The frozen strawberries will also release more flavor if pureed before pitching into secondary. If using a secondary, rack your beer on top of the strawberries and basil; not the other way around, which can aerate your beer. In the same line of advice, this is only your 2nd batch so I would try to limit racking to a minimum as to avoid oxygenation. Tertiary is a little overboard. It would be a shame after all of this hard work you had an oxygenated beer that tasted like wet cardboard and cheap sherry.

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