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Suggestions for adding cherries to wort

Hey all,

I just made my first Belgian Strong Ale and am planning to add fresh cherries and oak cubes to the secondary. I was wondering what your thoughts were for adding the cherries without going overboard. My plan was to buy fresh organic cherries and make a puree. But I also know that Cantillon adds whole cherries to their kriek. Has anyone ever attempted either of these before?

I haven’t tried it myself, but I’ve seen others who have. I don’t think I personally puree them, maybe crush them somewhat to expose the flesh without later having issues with transferring.

Haven’t tried it but I’ve also seen suggestions to freeze them first which helps macerate them. That is my plan when I get around to making my 2nd kriek but using fresh sour cherries.

I would be interest on some info on this as well. As soon as my Consecration finished up, I want to brew a sour with cherries added. I am very curious on what quantity is recommended as well.

I made a cherry wheat beer a few months back. Put 6 lbs of pureed and frozen cherries in the secondary. It has a bit of cherry flavor without any sweetness. Don’t know if that is what you are after. If I were to brew it again, I think I would go with 8 lbs instead.

So I can give you an idea on what NOT to do.
We made a hefe and added Cherry Puree directly to the primary. The cherry’s natural sugars fermented out, leaving something recognizable as cherry flavor, but it’s just wrong. I’m not sure if age is improving it, or if I’m just acquiring a taste for it, but my impressions all along were that it needs to be sweeter or made into a sour.

The color is terrible too. Not pink, but brown with some red in it. Like a blood stain.

It was fun to play with the recipe, but but it taught me just how little I actually know.

If I do cherry puree again, I’d use a different base recipe and try to get a way to replace the sweetness, maybe steep some caramel malt

This is good. Judging from the replys and other research I’ve done, freezing then unfreezing, then pitting and mashing seems the way to go. And I was going for just a hint of cherry flavor. I want my Belgian strong and Trappist yeast to be the stars. And really!? 6 lbs seems like a lot but you’re not the first person to say that. Thank you!

You need sour cherries. Sweet cherries ferment out too clean. Sour cherries can be hard to find fresh, except during the limited harvest season (usually the end of July, from what I can tell). If fresh aren’t available try puree or concentrate.

Each year, I make 3 wheat beers back to back, starting with 5 gallons of honey wheat, followed by raspberry wheat, then black cherry wheat. Formally, I added a pint of fresh honey at flameout, but last year I used a whole quart. It was incredible! (but about 8%). For the fruit beers, I add 2 pounds of frozen bags of raspberries or cherries about 5 minutes before flameout, cool the wort and then add one more frozen bag to the primary fermenter. Since I’m reusing the yeast from the previous batch, it’s fresh and strong and starts right away. I’ve never had a problem with infections or off flavors. It’s got fruit essence, but not overly sweet-fruity. It’s a big hit around the house and I have to be careful about inviting friends over or it will be gone in a weekend.

So the fruit is still frozen when you do the additions? or are you allowing them some time to thaw before going into the wort? and are you doing anything to break them up, or does the fermentation time get the flavors out like a stew?

I suspected from my beer being too dark that I needed to dial back the amount of cherry, it seems like you’re doing about half of what I did. Your picture is exactly what I was hoping mine would look like.

used cherries many of times.
Add anywhere from 1lb to 2.5lb per gallon depending on what your going for.
Whats the point of puree just add them and rack on top

[quote=“grainbelt”]used cherries many of times.
Add anywhere from 1lb to 2.5lb per gallon depending on what your going for.
Whats the point of puree just add them and rack on top[/quote]

Thanks for the advice, I take it 1lb per gallon would deliver a subtle flavor and 2.5lb per gallon a very strong flavor?

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