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-   -   Strawberry beer help! (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/strawberry-beer-help-395505/)

salb29 03-06-2013 04:29 PM

Strawberry beer help!
 
I want to rack my imperial blonde ale on top of strawberries in a secondary, so here are my questions...

Should I buy the strawberries frozen? Or fresh?

If fresh how would I sanitize them? And I'm guessing I would cut them up??

If frozen, do I cut them up frozen and then put in secondary frozen? Or thaw them out cut them up and put in the secondary?

Do I need to put in a painters strainer bag or put them in without meaning they will be in there loosely?

Also it's a 5 gal batch how many lbs should I use??

Thanks for any help you can give

ApothecaryBrewing 03-06-2013 06:19 PM

wrong

weirdboy 03-06-2013 06:27 PM

I disagree with almost everything apothecarybrewing says, and have years of actual experience using fresh strawberries in my gold medal-winning beers to back it up.


I have been brewing with fresh strawberries for a number of years and never had any infection issues. You need to clean and inspect the fruit, though, and you need to be careful about keeping it in a sanitized container. He is also wrong about using frozen fruit. Freezing the fruit also helps break open the cell walls, which actually gives you MORE color, aroma, and flavor. My process is detailed in the recipe in my drop-down under my name entitled "Strawberry Alarm Clock".

Store-bought frozen fruit is a perfectly good substitute, and in fact is likely to be fresher than getting the "fresh" fruit in stores in many parts of the country. However, I live in CA and we have fresh and cheaply available fruits straight from the farm throughout the spring and summer, so I tend to get that because it's actually cheaper than buying the stuff from the freezer case in the store.


I do agree with using a bag to control the debris. Not so much worried about clarity, but with strawberries in particular you get all these little tiny bits of fruit that are tough to manage. I use a 5 gallon mesh paint strainer bag typically, and do primary and secondary fermentation in buckets to help keep things easy to rack and clean up.

alers22 03-06-2013 06:33 PM

I wouldn't think you want to boil them because it will affect the flavor and usable characteristics of the strawberries. You dont need to soak them in alcohol either.

What I do is wash whole fresh strawberries, pack them into an aluminum pie pan and put them in the freezer (you can cut large ones in half too). Freezing will kill anything that could harm your beer. When you are ready to use, simply pull out of the freezer and insert the frozen strawberry puck into a large hop bag, place into your bucket and rack your beer on top. I think i actually used 2 frozen pie pans full of strawberries(about 5 pounds for 5 gallons)

It works for me every time.

nsrooen 03-06-2013 06:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ApothecaryBrewing (Post 4977715)
Not sure on how many pounds you should use, but they should definitely be boiled for 5 minutes or soaked in vodka to kill any creepy crawlies.

Pitching fresh fruit straight out of the carton or bag is a good way to get some sort of infection in your beer. I personally would boil the amount for 5 minutes then strain them and dump them in. If you happen to make a nice strawberry slurry from boiling them just pitch it all in, the amount of water won't have too much of an effect on your gravity or flavor unless it is approaching half a gallon.

Depending on how easy you want them to be to remove I would bag them. If you rack on to them without a bag you will likely be left with pretty hazy beer.

And I would use fresh if you can get them. Frozen won't have the pop and zing of a fresh berry.

Not sure I agree with the majority of this. I have used frozen fruit in the secondary numerous times with great success. I generally use a sanitized mesh bag to contain any pulp / loose fruit. No need to boil or sanitize the fruit itself. The amount of alcohol present after fermentation is enough to keep any nasties at bay. - This of course is my experience after probably two dozen fruit beers done using this method.

salb29 03-06-2013 06:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by alers22
I wouldn't think you want to boil them because it will affect the flavor and usable characteristics of the strawberries. You dont need to soak them in alcohol either.

What I do is wash whole fresh strawberries, pack them into an aluminum pie pan and put them in the freezer (you can cut large ones in half too). Freezing will kill anything that could harm your beer. When you are ready to use, simply pull out of the freezer and insert the frozen strawberry puck into a large hop bag, place into your bucket and rack your beer on top. I think i actually used 2 frozen pie pans full of strawberries(about 5 pounds for 5 gallons)

It works for me every time.

My secondary is a carboy, seems like it would be hard to put 5 lbs of strawberries down that small hole while keeping them in a bag, any suggestions?

weirdboy 03-06-2013 06:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by salb29 (Post 4977762)
My secondary is a carboy, seems like it would be hard to put 5 lbs of strawberries down that small hole while keeping them in a bag, any suggestions?

How big is the carboy?

If it is a typical 5 gallon carboy, it's too small anyway and you need another vessel. You need to account for the additional volume of the fruit, in addition to the fact that you'll see an actual secondary fermentation due to the sugars in the fruit, which is going to give you a massive foamy buildup and likely result in a strawberry-flavored beer explosion at some point. I know this from first-hand experience, and I'm stupid, so it actually took me TWO tries using my carboy to reach the conclusion that it's an ill-fated plan. Trust me, you do NOT want to spend your free time cleaning bits of strawberry off your ceiling.


I recommend getting a 6.5-7 gallon bucket for your secondary for this and other fruit beers.

salb29 03-06-2013 06:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by weirdboy

How big is the carboy?

If it is a typical 5 gallon carboy, it's too small anyway and you need another vessel. You need to account for the additional volume of the fruit, in addition to the fact that you'll see an actual secondary fermentation due to the sugars in the fruit, which is going to give you a massive foamy buildup and likely result in a strawberry-flavored beer explosion at some point. I know this from first-hand experience, and I'm stupid, so it actually took me TWO tries using my carboy to reach the conclusion that it's an ill-fated plan.

I recommend getting a 6.5-7 gallon bucket for your secondary for this and other fruit beers.

My carboy is 6.5 gallons

weirdboy 03-06-2013 07:09 PM

OK, well with a carboy you are basically stuck with jamming the strawberries through the tiny orifice at the top, and then getting the beer out will be tricky to rack without getting bits of strawberry in there, because some of the bits will float, and others will sink, and others will be somewhere in between. I have tried various methods of filtering out the bits with some success, but the filters tend to get clogged as you go along. Cleaning out the carboy will also be a bit tricky...getting the strawberry goop out that is left over after this will probably take a bit of shaking.

Again, for this type of beer I cannot really recommend the bucket enough. It makes everything SO much easier.

salb29 03-06-2013 07:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by weirdboy
OK, well with a carboy you are basically stuck with jamming the strawberries through the tiny orifice at the top, and then getting the beer out will be tricky to rack without getting bits of strawberry in there, because some of the bits will float, and others will sink, and others will be somewhere in between. I have tried various methods of filtering out the bits with some success, but the filters tend to get clogged as you go along. Cleaning out the carboy will also be a bit tricky...getting the strawberry goop out that is left over after this will probably take a bit of shaking.

Again, for this type of beer I cannot really recommend the bucket enough. It makes everything SO much easier.

The more I think about it the more I'm thinking about a bucket now, after secondary did you move it to another bucket to cold crash it or did u just go straight to bottling bucket?


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