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My AG BIAB version of Charlie P's Cherry Fever Stout

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.


Wow, intense first post. Welcome to the forum. BIAB is as AG as any other method, so kudos for jumping right in. Just FYI, the juice is pasteurized so you don’t need to sanitize it and boiling will drive off some of the aroma compounds. Also, if you want more intense cherry flavor, add the fruit in the secondary rather than to the kettle.

Thank you for the compliments. Been watching BTV for as long as I’ve been brewing and have always aspired to make the step up to all-grain brewing. I’ll always remember the longer brew days and this was a memorable first one, just because it’s summer in Arizona, and I feel like I put a lot of sweat into this one. :slight_smile: I was excited to share this one, and figured this was the best place to do so. I’m sure there are other people wanting to see AG versions of their favorite Charlie P. extract brews.

Thanks for the tip on adding the pasteurized juice to secondary. That’ll definitely save me some time. When consulting with the folks over at Brew Your Own Brew here in Gilbert, AZ, they had also advised that adding the fruit and juice to secondary would be better for an intense cherry flavor. I know that Charlie P. wrote some of those recipes a while ago, so despite the advice, I felt like making an adventure true to his original recipe and erring on the side of getting too little fruit flavor when adding to kettle was a worthwhile once since adding to secondary is still available and a good backup plan as any.

Earlier today was when I took the tasting sample, so I’m glad I got the feedback before secondary racking. Sometime Monday or Tuesday, I’ll rack to secondary then take a sample a few days later and let you know how everything is turning out. Super excited for this one. It’s gonna be great.

I’ll say right now that I did the extract version of this recipe with sweet cherries only (not being able to find sour or tart cherries/syrups), and I was very disappointed with the results. The lack of sour notes made for a very boring and forgettable stout. I’ve asked around with some local homebrewing gurus and they recommended dry-hopping the stout (I know, I know, it’s sacrilege, but they swear by it and the brews I’ve tasted are downright delicious). So, since you’re about to rack to the secondary, the dry hopping is something to consider.

Thanks for sharing the experience of making the original version. It seems as if you’re a big stout admirer as well. I also do feel that having the tart cherry flavor come out is extremely important for making this a memorable stout. I guess if I could perform some sort of “beer breeding”, this one should be a mix of 25% Belgian Red from New Glarus and the rest perhaps Guinness Extra Stout or your favorite easy-drinking dry stout. The secret is finding the right balance.

New Glarus states that their Belgian Red uses over a pound of sour Montmorency cherries per 750 mL bottle. If that were a 5 gallon batch, that would be a minimum of 25 lbs. of cherries, obviously requiring a much larger fermentation vessel. I wouldn’t quite go that far with iterations of this recipe, but it’s nice to know how far one can reasonably go with the cherries.

I’m extremely happy with how the Northern Brewer and Ahtanum hops came through with my recent taste-test. They have a great presence that I anticipate would persist through secondary with the tart cherry juice. Dry-hopping, enticing as it is, I feel would cause too much of an imbalance or perhaps a great enough spread in flavors between aggressive hops and tart cherries that one might forget at it’s core this is an Irish stout. Perhaps, too, that will depend on the hop variety used. I guess I’m just scared to go too big with the hops, despite my love for well-hopped Russian Imperial stouts.

fair enough :cheers:

Congrats on the BIAB batch! I also brewed Papazian’s recipe (it was so highly recommended in his book), but I overdid the cherry flavoring.

I added dried sour cherries to the secondary, but prior to bottling there did not seem like enough cherry flavor, so I added some tart cherry flavoring that I got from the LHBS.

After it carbonated, and aged there was too much cherry flavor, so my advice is to go easy. I still have some in the frig from 6 months ago!

I am a BIAB’er through and through! More and more folks are giving it a try, especially AG newbies who want a less-expensive method to get into AG.

I have put up a few posts on my blog that talk about my setup if anyone is interested. See blog address in my signature below.

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