This is based on the Cherry Fever Stout recipe in Charlie Papazian’s The Complete Joy of Homebreweing. Page 218 in the 3rd edition.
5 gallon batch
12 lbs. 2 row pale malt
1.0 lb. crystal malt 60L
0.5 lb. roasted barley (I used English for a dryer feel)
0.5 lb. black patent malt
0.5 lb. flaked oats
1.5 oz. Northern Brewer 8.8% AA (60 mins, Boiling)
1.0 oz. Ahtanum 4.5% AA (15 mins, Finishing)
5 lbs. sweet cherries
64 fl. oz. Organic Tart Cherry Juice (2x 32 fl. oz. bottles from Whole Foods)
Irish Ale Type Yeast (use a starter):
White Labs WLP004 or Wyeast 1084
4.0 tsp calcium carbonate
0.5 tsp Irish moss
O.G.: 1.070 – 1.075 (expected approximate)
F.G.: 1.018 – 1.030 (expected approximate)
I’ve been a homebrewer for only about 6 months with two extract batches made previous to this one. I did research on what I’d like to do next and decided to make the jump to all-grain (AG), albeit Brew in a Bag (BIAB) because I focused on acquiring the 10g Boilermaker for longevity’s sake. It’s a wonderful tool and served me well with this batch.
A few notes on the original recipe from The Complete Joy of Homebrewing:
Charlie P. called for 3 lbs. of sour cherries and 2 lbs. of sweet cherries. I live in Arizona and sour/tart cherries are near impossible to find so I opted for the organic tart cherry juice.
He also never called for flaked oats, but I wanted to bring a nice mouthfeel to the final beer, so I thought this was appropriate. Could have gone with a full pound of flaked oats, depending upon personal preference.
I opted for a full ounce of Ahtanum instead of 0.5 oz. of Willamette that was called for in the original recipe. This was based on inspiration from looking at other stout recipes that I liked and used Ahtanum, more or less, as a finishing hop variety.
Let’s get started.
Boil around 7 gallons of water, let it cool down while doing other prep work. Crush cherries and place them in a large mixing bowl. I originally took the bags of cherries, froze them in the freezer to burst the cells, and took them out to defrost/crush them. After crushing, I added a 32 fl. oz. bottle of tart cherry juice to the bowl and placed it back in the freezer. More info on why I did this later. Right now, I also plan on using the other bottle in secondary.
Prepare your grain bag and fill it with the grain bill. We’re aiming for a mash temperature of 154 degrees F. You might have to do some calculations to get the temperature of the grain and mash water to equalize to this value. Steep for 60 mins. Mash out at 168 degrees F for 7 – 10 minutes. Remove bag and discard spent grains.
Heat the wort for boiling. Add calcium carbonate at this time. Total boil time is 60 minutes. It might be nice to put your hops in muslin/cheesecloth bags to make it easier to remove them later. Add a little bit of the Northern Brewer hops just before the boil to get the wort acclimated. At boil, add the rest of the Norther Brewer. 15 minutes left in the boil, add the Ahtanum hops and Irish moss. After the boil is finished, kill the heat.
Get the bowl of crushed cherries with juice from the freezer and add to the wort. In theory, according to Charlie P., this should cool the wort to around 160-180 degrees F at which time the cherries need to steep at this temperature range for 15 minutes to pasteurize the cherried wort. Being in Arizona with 100+ degree F temps outside where I had my brewpot and burner set up, I wanted to make sure the temp got down to that range, hence the freezing. After 15 mins of steeping, cool the wort with your immersion/plate chiller.
Transfer to a 5 gallon sanitized plastic fermenter with all the cherries included. Aerate/oxygenate your cooled wort and pitch your yeast. After 5 – 7 days rack to sanitized secondary while getting as little of the spent cherry sediment, hops, and trub as possible. Prior to racking to secondary, you can add the other bottle of tart cherry juice to the carboy. (I’m contemplating adding two bottles instead of one for a more intense cherry flavor.) Take sanitary precautions with adding this juice to secondary. Boiling the juice in a saucepan beforehand would be just fine.
Wait until there are signs of clarity in the secondary before bottling. Charlie P. never specified a time period for this, but I anticipate this could take anywhere from 2 – 4 weeks. After bottling, I would recommend bottle-conditioning for at least 3 weeks. This beer should age quite well.
I hope people find interest in making this. I’d love to hear any critiques or suggestions on my methods for making it better.
What I wanted from this beer was a nice balance between cherry tartness, a malty full-bodied mid-palate, and a dryish, slightly hoppy finish while using Irish ale yeast strains. A sample taken 3 days after pitching tasted absolutely fantastic. I was really happy with how the hops came through in the flavor profile, and the cherry flavor was just subtle enough to let you know it’s there. I think the additional cherry juice during secondary is exactly what’s needed to help balance out this beer to meet my expectations.