Grape pomace in primary?

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Zwerg

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I have a friend who is a winemaker. I am considering asking him to set aside a small amount of pomace and using it in a beer - my thinking is it might be nice in a Berliner Weisse.

I brew with extract, haven't brewed with fruit before, and generally haven't done secondary fermentations (the one batch I racked to secondary came out with a lot of off flavors so I try to avoid it, but this was also my first brew and I probably screwed up somehow in the racking process).

What are my options here?

1) Assuming I either kettle-sour or pitch the appropriate lacto strain a few days before the yeast, could I just rack the wort from the kettle directly onto the pomace in primary? I know there wouldn't be much fermentable sugar, and that's fine, I would just hope for it to give some character, but I assume there is a reason this generally isn't done. Would this be too long of an exposure to the fruit, or would it interfere with fermentation somehow?

2) Or, should I add the pomace to primary after the main fermentation is complete?

3) Or am I better off just doing a traditional Berliner Weisse and aging it for a long time on the pomace in secondary?

Appreciate any thoughts.
 

Rob2010SS

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Not familiar with "pomace", but I would think the process would be similar to using fruit in general.

What are you fermenting in?

Personally, I've gotten away from traditional kettle souring. I co pitch the lactobacillus and sacch yeast at the same time in the fermenter and it's never failed me to get to 3.2-3.3 pH. That would be my recommendation. Nothing wrong with staggering the pitch but I haven't tried it to see if there's a benefit to it.

To answer your questions....

I wouldn't add the pomace to primary. Fermentation can drive off a lot of flavors. People typically don't add fruit during primary because you'll lose some of that flavor. I just looked up what pomace is and I would imagine that flavor will be somewhat delicate. If you add it during primary, I'd be afraid you'd lose that flavor. I'd wait until fermentation is coming to an end, or complete, and then add it. I typically always wait until fermentation is done and then add fruit. I'll then let it sit for 2-3 weeks on the fruit.
 
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Zwerg

Zwerg

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That makes sense! Thanks for the detailed answer.

Do you think it would be okay to do my option #2 then (i.e. add the fruit to primary, but only after the fermentation has mostly completed)?
 

Rob2010SS

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Yeah, 100% I think that's OK. Again, not sure what you're fermenting in. If you're fermenting in a conical, I'd hook up CO2 to the blow off arm and let that flow slowly while you're adding your fruit. Otherwise, wait until fermentation is coming to and end and slowing down and then add it.
 
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Zwerg

Zwerg

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Just a glass carboy. I'm not set up to use CO2, but hopefully I could just drop it in without risking too much oxidation (at least better than racking to secondary, I hope, although there will be headspace...).

Thanks!
 

Elric

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#2 is how I add fruit to my beers and I’ve been pleased with how they all turned out. The fruit sugars will kick off another smaller round of fermentation after they are added. The one caveat is that you want to make sure your pomace is sterile same with any bag you may choose to use to add it.
 
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Zwerg

Zwerg

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I was wondering about that - might it not be good to have whatever microbes are on the pomace be introduced to the beer? I'm fine with some funky complexity, but am I just risking ruining the batch that way? Would I sterilize by boiling? I don't want to ruin whatever flavors are left in the pomace...
 

Rob2010SS

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Don't boil it. Heat it in a pan to 160F and hold for 30 min. Use either a sauce pan or some kind of double boiler pot if you have one.

You can also kill any wild yeast that may be there by soaking the pomace in water with a camden tablet for 24 hours. You'd have to search for how much camden to use as I don't know that number.
 

Rish

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When I use fruit, whole spices, etc., I soak them a few days in vodka or Everclear. I don't know how much pomace you're adding but you might consider that. Also, you will get tannins from the grape seeds, I believe, so you should taste occasionally to make sure they're not overdone (unless that's what you're looking for 😉).
 
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Zwerg

Zwerg

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Thank you, that's a good idea. And yeah, I imagine there will be a lot of tannins, I'm definitely flying blind here but should be an interesting learning experience
 
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