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Old 09-15-2010, 12:10 AM   #1
delvec28
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Default Using Chunks of Fruit in Fermenter

Ok guys -

I'm new here, my first post! Me and a buddy of mine who is into craft beer brewed a batch of IPA a couple of weeks ago. He is more into beer than me, so after helping him with this process, I decided to get a Mr. Beer kit to experiment a bit myself.

One of my favorite beers is Magic Hat #9, which is brewed with apricots, so upon receiving the kit with a can of West Coast Pale Ale, I decided it might be a good idea to add fruit to the fermenter to boost the alcohol and give off a hint of fruit flavor. I should note that I also added about a half cup of honey. Using the calculator in the Mr. Beer kit, the ABV should turn out between 5-6%.

However, I've taken a sample or two from the tap to test the progress of fermentation and I have to say there is a strong, somewhat off odor. It's tough to find something to compare it to. When you taste the beer, it tastes decent but from the smell I think something is wrong. It's also been in the fermenter (Mr. Beer Keg) for about 15 days now.

I've read a lot in the past few weeks so I feel more educated now, but I really did wing it when it came to adding this fruit. I bought a packaged bag of dried apricots (although they were a bit spongy, so I'm not sure they were completely dehydrated), and roughly chopped them up. I then added these directly to the fermenter after boiling the booster and added the hopped malt extract. I didn't boil them since I've heard the pectins can add cloudiness to the beer.

Initially, this fruit gathered on the bottom but eventually rose to the top of the fermenter. Now, some of it is exposed to the air. My question is this - is it likely that the exposed fruit could be rotting, causing this off smell? It seems most recipes call for pureed fruit (which I didn't know when I made this batch). Or is it possible that there are preservatives in the fruit which may have affected the fermentation process? Unfortunately I didn't pay much attention to the details of my fruit when I did this ... live and learn

Any input is appreciated, thanks a lot and I hope to become more of a regular here now that I've been hit with the brewing bug!

Oh and I should make it known that my buddy and I bottled the first batch of IPA yesterday and it tasted awesome - at least the 5 gallon batch turned out well! First taste of carbonated homebrew is only a few weeks away

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Old 09-15-2010, 12:58 AM   #2
akthor
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I think you're only supposed to add fruit in secondary?

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Old 09-15-2010, 01:02 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by akthor View Post
I think you're only supposed to add fruit in secondary?
+1 from what I've read.
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Old 09-15-2010, 01:07 AM   #4
lumpher
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you can add fruit anytime, in the boil, primary, or secondary. the main thing is, if you're not going to add frozen fruit (which is nitrogen-packed), you DO need to boil it. if it's fresh, you're probably adding wild yeast, which is what causes the fruit to spoil in the first place

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Old 09-15-2010, 01:15 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by lumpher View Post
you can add fruit anytime, in the boil, primary, or secondary. the main thing is, if you're not going to add frozen fruit (which is nitrogen-packed), you DO need to boil it. if it's fresh, you're probably adding wild yeast, which is what causes the fruit to spoil in the first place
Yes, this is what I've read. Fruit in the primary will ferment out most of the sugar and flavor and you are left with more of a subtle fruit note. Fruit in the secondary is what causes a stronger fruit flavor.

Are you sure about boiling? Another thing I've read is that you should let it sit at 160 degrees or so for 10-15 minutes to kill stray bacteria or yeast, but you don't want to boil since the pectins will affect clarity among other things.

I really need to go back to the grocery store I bought this fruit at to check out the deal with the fruit. It was in clear plastic packaging but I really don't know if it was dehydrated, fresh, preserved or something else. I'm pretty positive we did everything else up to the sanitization standards so my best guess is I probably should dump it and start over.

I am still curious as to whether the floating fruit is a bad thing, though, even if I followed the proper procedures to sanitize it.
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Old 09-15-2010, 01:25 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delvec28 View Post
Fruit in the primary will ferment out most of the sugar and flavor and you are left with more of a subtle fruit note. Fruit in the secondary is what causes a stronger fruit flavor.

you should let it sit at 160 degrees or so for 10-15 minutes to kill stray bacteria or yeast, but you don't want to boil since the pectins will affect clarity among other things.
what you've read is right. i've experienced it. i always secondary ( not boil or primary ) fruit when i add it, since i'm adding it for the fruit flavor, not a hint of it. i don't boil it, since it will leave a waxy haze in the beer, but i do soak it at 170-180 to kill bacteria on it.
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