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Cherry Stout questions

For my second beer ever
I’m making a cherry stout for my girlfriend and the recipe (she picked it from Papazians Joy of Homebrewing) calls for choke cherries and sour cherries. I’m having a really hard time locating some around the area; however, the store has ample supplies of sweet cherries. How much am I’m going destroy/alter the recipe with sweet cherries?

P.S. Hello all. Happy to be posting and brewing.

AND ANOTHER THING! I’m assuming I should do this, but it doesn’t say one way or the other in any cherry stout recipe I’ve looked up. Should I pit the cherries?

You don’t have to pit them, they might give a little woody character to the beer. And you can use sweet cherries, they just won’t give quite the tart flavor of a sour cherry. You can generally buy canned pie cherries in water, they are tart cherries. Or you can buy canned cherry puree from NB. Either way you can blend some of this with fresh sweet cherries and have a nice beer.

NB also sells a cherry stout kit if you’re interested. I think they just supply cherry extract though. You can also get DaVinci syrup in cherry flavor I think, and add that. Or better yet get the syrup and make a regular stout and just have her add syrup to each glass, thats what I do for my wife for fruit beers.

Assuming you live in North America, we haven’t quite hit sour cherry season yet. If you can wait a few weeks, they should get easier to find later this month or in early July.

I want to avoid using syrups only because when my friends have used them in the past they’ve lent a cough syrup-like quality to the brew. Thanks for the advice on the pits! I love the idea of a wood character in there. I figured the cherries would be sweeter rather than tart, but since I haven’t used fresh fruit in brews yet I was worried there was something I didn’t know about the skins or the sugars etc. Very much appreciated the response!


Depends on where you live. Around my neck of the woods tart cherries are hard to find, I think most go to the pie cherry canners. We now have two sour cherry trees in the yard.

I have a sour cherry too, just harvested a couple weeks ago. They’re frozen, awaiting a beer.

she’s in primary fermentation for the next 5 days, but it smells terrific. 5 lbs of sweet cherries and a little extra on the english black malts.

depending on where you live and what kind of grocery stores are around you, but…
Meijer (based out of Michigan) sells a tart cherry concentrate in their produce departments. It seems to be pretty reasonably priced too. FYI, I live in Cincinnati and my local store carries it. It is perishable though.

Thanks for all the responses, guys! I’ve been giving this stout a lot of thought, and I was wondering (what with all the sweets) if it would be a good idea to dry hop it in the secondary. Have you guys tried this with a fruit beer at all? It feels like the right thing to do, and I know there are no rules, but I’d love to draw off of ya’ll’s wisdom.

:frowning: Bump

I’m not really sure why you’d dry hop a stout. With the specialty grains and fruit, I don’t think you’ll get any aroma from the hops…and I don’t think it is really appropriate for the style.

I’ve read about people dry hopping stouts from time to time to help combat sweetness. Maybe I’m crazy :smiley:

Well, I see you already brewed this. I have no idea if hops would combat sweetness. I don’t see how they possibly could, since the hops are only releasing oils for the aroma…but I could be wrong.
If you end up adding fruit, fruit puree, etc, then you should probably expect to have an additional fermentation. So, if your base beer finishes fermenting at 1.014 for example then your finished beer w/cherries may finish lower at 1.010…drying it out.

yeah, haha, still pretty new to this. Obviously, I’m getting way ahead of myself, and will save the dry hopping for conventional purposes until I know the actual results from a tasting. Thanks a ton man.

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