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American Wheat + Fruit

I am going to be brewing an American Wheat soon and want to experiment with a fruit addition. My wife really enjoyed an wheat & apricot brew, so I would like to try the same. I have read many different ways to do fruit additions, but will not use syrups, but the real fresh fruit. Could some of you with experience in this area please lend some advice on what has worked for you? We have an excellent farmer’s market in our area, so want to take advantage of their offerings.

Cheers!

I’ve done a bunch of fruit beers, many of them with wheat, so I think I can help somewhat. I have not done one with apricots, so I can’t help with the quantity to use; you’ll have to figure that one yourself.

First off, reconsider getting the fruit at the fruit market. Frozen fruit from the grocery store is usually picked when it is ripe, not earlier as it doesn’t have to travel for some days to get to the consumer. So not only is it cheaper, the flavor is usually better. It is also mushy from the freezing process, which breaks apart cell walls. That is an advantage for a brewer as the juice and flavor is released better. If you do decide to use fresh fruit, freeze and thaw it before adding it to the beer. Also, remove the pits, as I seem to remember that they can have some nasty tasting chemicals in them which can get leached into the beer by the alcohol.

The best time to add fruit is once primary fermentation has wound down. Adding it sooner results in a lot of the aromatic compounds being blown away with the CO2 from the yeast. Just dump the fruit in another sanitized bucket (put it in a sanitized nylon mesh sack if you want), then rack the beer onto it. Then leave it for a month. It is rare, but it is possible for some microbe to get into the beer with the fruit. I’ve had this happen a couple of times. It doesn’t ruin the beer, but it will give it a lambic-like twang. If it happens, giving it a month will allow whatever is there to finish it’s work and thus avoid the risk of bottle bombs.

Thank you for the reply and great information rebuilt. That makes a lot of sense. Once I get to the point of transferring to keg, would I just leave the mesh bag of fruit behind or potentially transfer this to the keg as well? I want to make sure we get the best possible flavors of the fruit pulling through.

I did an American wheat with frozen cranberries a couple months ago. Crushed frozen cranberries and heated to 180 deg then cooled put In a mesh bag and put in the secondary for three weeks. Then bottled. The beer tasted good but to carbonated and foamy. I don’t think it was done fermenting. If I do it again I would try throwing the fruit in the keg not the fermentor

I’ve done watermelon and strawberry. I let it ferment for a week and add the fruit.

It can take a while for the fermentation to finish when you add fruit, as some of the sugars take time to work their way out of the pulp. I would not recommend putting fruit into a keg; sounds like a recipe for a big mess.

Leave the bag of fruit behind, you’ll have plenty of flavor already in the beer.

The more fruit you use, the more flavor you’ll get, but beware that fruit adds acid as well. That is typically what I find to be the limiting issue in how much to use.

Great information, everyone. I will keep you posted on what I do and how things turn out.

Cheers!

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