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Adding cherries late to secondary?

Hi. My daughter is coming to visit me for the 4th of July, and I made the Wheaton Saison for her (she really likes that). But she also really likes cherry wheat and has asked me to add cherries to it. Well, it’s already brewed and has been setting in secondary for a couple weeks and is ready to go into the keg this weekend for carbonation. There’s still time before she gets here, so I’m wondering if it would mess it up to add the cherries and let it set in secondary for another couple of weeks.

So if the consensus is that would be ok, my thought was to get 5lbs of cherries, wash them thoroughly, freeze them, thaw them, mash them a bit, and add them until 6/28, then transfer to keg and slow carb until the 4th. My thought is that would also let the beer condition a bit more. Will that give it enough cherry flavoring? Should I use puree? I’ve got some extract my daughter gave me, but I’ve read that flavor comes off as a bit more artificial. Thoughts? Thanks.

I’m an advocate of using extract in situations where you are trying to emulate commercially availible fruit beers such as Cherry Wheat, #9, the various blueberry beers, etc. My rule of thumb is that if the beer your daughter likes isn’t pink/red in color, then use extract. This also means you don’t have to worry about the beer fermenting the fruit sugars, you can just add it to the keg.

I’ll disagree with Wahoo, stay away from extracts; they do lend a chemical flavor.

Your idea with the fresh cherries will work, but not in the timeframe you have. When I add fruit to a beer, it is almost always late in the secondary. And yes, it does start a secondary fermentation that will take some time to play out (more than you might think, due to the slow extraction of the sugars from the pulp). But more importantly, on rare occasions you can get an infection that way. I’ve had this 2 or 3 times, and it doesn’t ruin the beer, but it does give it a lambic-like twang. And you should give any bugs that might have hitched a ride in enough time to finish what they are doing before you bottle or keg the beer. I’ll set aside at least a month for that.

For the situation you have, I’d go with the puree, but still give it as much time as you can before kegging.

Ok. I think I’m just going to avoid this round. She’ll just have to live with my ‘normal’ brew. Thanks.

You know, the puree will work fine even in this time frame. Just keg a few days before she is due to arrive and force carbonate the keg (after purging, place it sideways on your lap and shake the bejezus out of it until you can no longer hear the gas bubbling in).

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