I have been wanting to try a tomato beer for a longtime but have never got around to doing one until this fall. This was the fall to make a*beer with tomatoes*as the plants were 10' high in the greenhouse and I am running out of applications for them*while behind on canning.*There isn't a lot of information out there on tomato beer--mostly people making inquiries in chat rooms but no recipes and no follow up. Generally the person is told to make tomato wine or to just add tomato juice to their finished beer, which we call Red Beer out west, but is called tomato beer elsewhere and that complicated my searches. I was on my own to make tomato beer.
My original plan was for a light beer, mostly pils and a little wheat malt with a touch of caramel, but a quick look at my grain stores forced me to change drastically what Tomato Ale would be. I had almost no base malts but I decided to piece together what I did have to make a 3 gallon batch. I mean, who was going to tell me that isn't how you make tomato beer? Mostly I was hoping to luck out. I added a pound of flaked maize to bring up the gravity and to counteract the maltiness from a third of the grain bill*up to that point being Munich and Maris Otter.
I wanted to add the tomatoes at different stages throughout the process to have the best possible chance of imparting tomato flavor and aroma. I picked a bunch of tomatoes, washed them and then set to processing the fruit. I sliced some cherry tomatoes in half and dried them in the dehydrator to make sundried tomatoes which were added to the boil. I par-boiled and peeled some of the cherry tomatoes and soaked them in vodka in the fridge for a garnish for the beer and for bloody mary's. I juiced enough tomatoes*to get 3 1/2 quarts of juice which I let separate with the thicker red juice sinking to the bottom and the clear tomato water rising to the top. I separated the two liquids a few times decanting through a*fine sieve*until all of the tomato water was clear and bright with a slight yellow hue. I ended up with about 1 1/2 quarts of water and 2 quarts of red juice.*The thick red juice I added to the primary fermenter, while I reserved the more delicate and aromatic*tomato water for secondary.*I also roasted a baking sheet full of tomatoes to be added to the boil. Most of the tomatoes used were an assortment of cherry and grape varieties of different colors*with some heirloom*Black Ethiopian thrown in for good measure.
Tomato Beer Recipe:
3 gallon batch
Anticipated OG 1.046
Anticipated TG 1.011
Anticipated SRM 6.79
*OG/TG/SRM all likely higher due to tomato additions
1 lbs. Munich 10L
1 lbs. White Wheat Malt
1 lbs. Flaked Maize
.5 lbs. Pils
.25 lbs. Dark Wheat Malt
.25 lbs. Maris Otter
.5 oz Czech Saaz at 60 minutes
.5 oz Czech Saaz at 30 minutes
.25 oz Czech Saaz at 5 minutes
Apx. 30 Sundried Cherry*Tomatoes at 20 minutes
Apx 40 Roasted Cherry Tomatoes at 40 minutes
1*oz. Dried Chamomile flowers at 5 min
2 qt fresh tomato juice to primary fermenter
1.5 qt fresh tomato water to secondary fermenter
2 sprigs fresh rosemary at flameout
2 oz fresh parsley at flameout
1 tbs fruit pectin to fermenter
Notes: I drew 4 gallons of pre-boil wort and boiled it down to 2.4 gallons in one hour (leaving room in 3 gallon fermenter for juice additions). After cooling I transferred to fermenter on 2 qt. of the fresh red juice, pitched yeast and fruit pectin. After 10 days in primary I transferred to secondary, adding 1.5 qt. of tomato water. After 20 days in secondary*beer was bottled with corn sugar.
Tasting Notes: The beer actually*smells and tastes like*a tomato! I can't*believe this worked so well, especially considering my makeshift grain bill.*The aroma is*the delicate scent of the tomato water that reminds*of the smell of brushing against tomato*plants. There is no presence from the rosemary or parsley.*The beer*is a little acidic but isn't far off from biting into a tomato filled with beer.*Does that sound gross? Well, it's not. I am very pleased with how this beer turned out and the vodka soaked cherry tomatoes add a nice touch.
Although this worked out very well, the next tomato beer I do will have a more traditional grain bill. *I am not sure how important each of the four tomato additions was to the finished beer but I think the tomato water to secondary was the key addition. Another change I might make is to par-boil the tomatoes before juicing to kill*any lacto that might be living on the skins, but so far I don't notice any infection.
If you have brewed a tomato beer or you decide to take one on, let me know how you did it and how it turned out.