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Cherry beer base

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  • Cherry beer base

    Just wondering if anyone has brewered a cherry beer (successfully!), and what beer style you chose to be the 'base'? For example, a lager or an ale? If so, what? And what important/major beer characteristics were well matched to the final cherry flavours you desired v. obtained?

    Thanks for any help...

  • #2

    I've brewed quite a few beers with cherries over the years. Lagers, ales, Kriek (lambic style), you name it. Cherries seem to go well with everything except very hoppy beers. Some of my favorites are: Porter, stout, Weizen, Kriek, mild. Oh, and Brown.

    How to get the best cherry flavor will most likely spark a lively debate, but I think extract and flavorings do not deliver a very nice cherry flavor, most lack complexity, are over the top sweet, and many leave the lingering suggestion of artificial chemical yuck. For real cherry flavor, go for real cherries. No substitute. Age the beer over whole washed cherries at a rate of at least one pound per barrel for a nice mild complex cherryness.

    Cherry variety, now that is up to you! Personal taste will rule the day, but I prefer tart cherry varieties for a nice refreshing flavor.

    Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
    Dexter, MI


    • #3
      I'm aging a cherry beer currently on toasted French oak. The base was a "golden" ale (2-row,wheat,munich,carapils and hopped with hallertau), which was fermented with WLP001 California Ale. After the fermentation was complete I added sour cherry puree and pitched a blend of two Belgian yeast strains. The beer finished out very dry with a crisp cherry character and some spiciness from the Belgian yeast, with the addition of the oak, it's rounding out it's character nicely.
      Just my two cents.
      Mike Roy
      Franklins Restaurant, Brewery & General Store
      5123 Baltimore Ave
      Hyattsville,MD 20781


      • #4
        Cherry Ale question...


        I just brewed a belgian red, I used a belgian yeast and the grain bill was two row with 25% 70/80 crystals. The color and the beer turned out great, but I want to secondary it with tart cherries. The beer started at 1.050 and its still fermenting, currently at 1.010.

        Unfortunately, there is a tart cherry shortage this year. Has anyone tried pitching cherry juice into the secondary? If so, would you make sure it's pastuerized?

        I was planning on using 100 lbs of cherries for 10 bbls.


        • #5
          If you use whole, unpitted cherries (like many kriek brewers do) the pits will also give an almond taste/aroma. Nice in some styles.
          Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--


          • #6
            I've always liked the aseptic purees from Oregon Fruit. They do offer several cherry varieties and are safe to add directly to your secondary(after pulling all yeast).

            Cheers & I'm out!
            David R. Pierce
            NABC & Bank Street Brewhouse
            POB 343
            New Albany, IN 47151


            • #7
              Second vote For Oregon Fruit!
              Brewmaster, Minocqua Brewing Company
              "Your results may vary"


              • #8

                Best: real whole cherries!
                Second: puree
                And in third place: You can use a juice. You will get cherry flavor, and it can be nice, but the beer will lack a lot of the subtleties and complexity whole fruit can add. Make sure you find a juice that is pure cherry, not some blend of cherry, apple, white grape etc. Juice (for me) tends to work best in a complex beer such a stout or barleywine. Take care not to use too much, or you can create the suggestion of "cough syrup". Not all that great. Most commercial juices should come pasteurized.



                • #9
                  Thanks for the advice...

                  I think I'll try the puree, any advice on amount? My Belgian book suggests a massive amount of berries, but I'd like to keep the berry flavor as more of a subtlety.

                  Im also considering using toasted oak chips, in the secondary, along with the berries. I've never used the chips before. Any advice on amount? Do you guys sterilize them before pitching them?

                  Last edited by Triose; 07-28-2005, 10:52 AM.


                  • #10
                    Pasteurized Juice

                    Take care not to buy juice with sorbate or benzoate. Generally, the pasteurized juice won't contain anti-ferments, but occassionally you find it both past. and AF'd.
                    Ray Sherwood
                    Sherwood Brewing Company
                    Shelby Township, MI


                    • #11
                      Cherry Stout

                      I brew a cherry stout with Oregon Puree at a blend of 3 to 1 Dark sweet to Tart. I believe I used about 130 lbs of dark and 44 tart in a 15 Bbl batch and it was not quite cherry enough so this time Im going to use the same amount in 10 Bbls. I adjusted the final flavor/aroma with a bit of natural extract which has a nice aroma but if overdone just tastes like cough syrup! Remember if you do a stout the combo of tart cherries and roast barley will give you a real bite so dont over do the tart cherries unless thats what you want. The cherry flavor can easily get lost in a dark beer if you dont use enough so have a back up plan (extract or juice to adjust). Good luck!
                      Big Willey
                      "You are what you is." FZ


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the imput!

                        I was planning on using all tart cherries. It's a 15 bbl. batch, but I was only going to cherry half the batch. I was planning on using 120 lbs in the secondary.

                        The beer isn't near as robust as a porter, its an orange/red color with an OG of 1.050. It's quite clean right now with definite belgian phenolics from the yeast.

                        I've never thought about using both tart and sweet. I'd like to stay true to the style yet make a good drinkable beer. Any thoughts?


                        • #13
                          I should mention that when I say that I use sweet cherries, what you are getting is cherry flavor without the tartness of sour cherries. The sugar ferments out so there is no "sweetness" from the sweet cherries unles you crash the beer before it can ferment out the cherries.
                          Big Willey
                          "You are what you is." FZ


                          • #14
                            I think you should always use real cherries.We use sour cherries.They have to be unsweetened.We drop ours in the wort while it is boiling.The flavour in the finished product is amazing.


                            • #15
                              fruit in the boil

                              What kind of fruit were you using? Because cherries will release pectin (as will just about any other fruit) in the boil, and it's a bitch to clarify the beer after that.

                              We generally use a base of Pale, Munich and Caramel malts, lightly hopped - which hops depends on the fruit. All hard fruits (anything with a skin, but not raspberries) we use the very cleanest fruit, then rinse with Oxonia (peroxyacetic acid), freeze, then thaw, crush and add. We always add the cherry pits, especially because we are using sweet dark cherries. Freezing helps kill micro-organisms, and it breaks down skin and cell walls, making the fruit integrate with the beer more quickly.
                              Crannóg Ales
                              Canada's Certified Organic, on-farm microbrewery