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Cranberry cream ale help

I’m planning on brewing cranberry ale using the speckled heifer all grain kit as a base and adding some cranberry blossom honey to the boil plus adding some fresh cranberries to the secondary for a week after two weeks of primary fermination. I did something similar this summer by using the speckled heifer and adding orange blossom honey. That beer turned out great. It was an excellent light beer for a hot day with a nice hint of orange from the honey.

This time I want add the fruit to accentuate it’s flavor in the beer and give it a nice pinkish red color. Does anyone have suggestion about the best way to incorporate the fruit into the beer? Is adding fresh fruit to the beer in secondary a good idea? How much should I add for a 5 gallon batch? Should I do anything to fruit before putting in the carboy?

Any suggestions would be appreciated. I am still a novice homebrewer (this will be my 5th all grain batch.)

For an easy fruit addition, you can add juice once primary fermentation is complete - I’ve had good results with 100% organic pomegranate, cherry, and cranberry, usually cost $5-$7 a quart, which is enough to reliably add a nice fruit character and color to five gallons of beer.

Oregon brand fruit puree is good, since it’s already sanitized. I’ve never used juice, but you now have it on good authority that juice works well. If you want to use fresh fruit, I’d suggest tossing the cranberries in boiling water for 30 seconds to kill any wild yeasts on the skins (the inside of the berries should be sanitary). I would avoid fruit extracts, as they rarely give you a quality end product.

I’ve decided to go with fresh cranberries. I was thinking about washing them and freezing them until use to help break them down. Any thoughts?

A lot of people do that, and it seems to help the berries break down in the beer better. Go ahead.

Thanks for the advice. I’m brewing tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Might not have caught this post in time but I did a cranberry wheat and put 3lbs of fresh puréed cranberries in the secondary for 7 days then racked (& strained) off of them. Beer is pink, bottled, not quite fully carbonated but I did try a bottle and is very good, sour, but very good.

I may not have seen this post in time either, but if you are using whole cranberries that are rock hard, you may need to cook or heat them up first to get them soft. Surly did a cranberry beer a while back and reportedly put the berries in the mash. They apparently started popping like popcorn.


Look here.


Cranberries have been in secondary fermentation for a week now. Tastes really tart, no sweetness. Can’t decide if this is good or not. I was hoping for some more sweetness from the honey…

All the honey fermented out, which would actually make your beer drier. If you want additional sweetness you would need to add an unfermentable sugar.

I just bottled my 2 gallons of cranberry oatmeal stout. Pureed 12oz fresh cranberries in a food processer, then cooked them on the stoved top for about 10 minutes prior to adding to the secondary. The beer has a tart, slight sourness to it, but the heavy malt flavor catches up pretty quickly and provides a nice balance. Should be ready to drink for christmas.

Good point Greg. I should have thought of that, but i’m still a newbie. Is there anything I could add at this point to bring back some sweetness? Could I add unfermentable sugar to the bottling bucket or the carboy?

maltodextrin and lactose are largely unfermentable by brewing yeast, but they’re also largely flavorless. They’d give it more body, but not necessarily more sweetness. If it’s not something you want to drink as is, and you can’t keg it, you could try some experimental procedures (what do you have to lose?). I’d pull out a gallon, heat it up and mash 4# of base malt at 158 or so, boil it, cool it, and add it back to the fermenter. This will give you unfermentable sweet sugars. This is a pretty radical move, but it’s better than dumping the batch, and when you report back, we’ll know how it works out.

If you are kegging, you can just kill the yeast, add some honey in the keg, and carb it. (keep it cold though, so any yeast in the honey doesn’t take hold).

Not radical, blending to add sweetness has been done for hundreds of years. You could use the wort you already have and add more malt as suggested, but heating it up would drive off the alcohol. I’d suggest this approach only if you have limited room in the fermentor. If you have extra room, or can transfer to a larger fermentor, then brew up a small batch of new beer and add it. I’d suggest that you use more than just base malt, and instead also add a bunch of crystal malts, which are less fermentable. I like honey malt and crystal 20 for blending.

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