Using Fruit in Beer

Although I only started brewing last year. I’ve done nearly 20 brews now and have not had a failed batch. Everything has come out spot on or better. I’ve been toying around with a few orginal recipes and my friends have been urging me to brew one in particular that includes cherries.

I’m a bit confused as to whether I add them to the boil, the secondary or both? I do not want to use puree’s if I don’t have to and I definitely will not use flavor extracts. I read that if I use real fruit, I need about 10 lbs. for 5 gallons of beer. I definitely want a natural taste and not a sticky, syrupy Kool-Aid like taste or mouthfeel.

So, should I crush or cut up the fruit and add it at flameout or just add whole cherries to the secondary fermentor?

Any and all help will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks and Cheers! :cheers:

Last summer, we brewed a 5 gal batch of pale ale and added 9 pounds of blueberries into the primary. We smashed them up a bit before going in, but we did not puree them. We served it at Christmas and it was gone in a flash.

I usually freeze the fruit first. Thawing it breaks down the cell walls and helps extract flavor. After thawing, I add it to a secondary and rack the beer onto it.

To the OP: despite your desire to not use purees or extracts, you’ll get much more and better flavor of you can find good quality puree or extract.

Limited experience here- two batches of NB ‘Dark Cherry Stout’. Hopefully someone with more experience will chime in. Last year I added 12 oz. dried cherries, this year 1/2 lb frozen cherries. Depitted the cherries before freezing them. Both batches also had 4oz. of cherry extract. Added both to secondary. This year’s addition kicked in the fermentation for 3-4 days more. In last years batch there wasn’t alot of cherry flavor, this years was bottled just last week, so flavor notes will have to wait. I wasn’t looking for alot of cherry flavor, so it was OK to me. If you want more flavor, what I’ve read agrees with you about the 5-10 lbs. And I believe you’ll get better flavor by adding to a secondary, or late primary.

Do 2 lbs. per gallon if you want a pronounced flavor. 1 lb. will give you an almost too subtle note. Leave the pits in for a little extra woody character.

Do 2 lbs. per gallon in the secondary if you want a pronounced flavor. 1 lb. will give you an almost too subtle note. Leave the pits in for a little extra woody character.

I don’t necessarily have a preference between puree and fresh cherries. I’ve done both several times, and both are fine (so is concentrate). If you’re brewing in season, and can get fresh cherries, go for it. But if you’re out of season or the cherries are prohibitively expensive, use the puree or concentrate.

What’s more important is the type of cherries. You need to use sour cherries if you want any flavor to remain. Sweet cherries ferment too clean.

Awesome! Thank you everyone for your input and help. It is much appreciated and will definitely help me out a lot.

I look forward to trying this out. I know here on Northern Brewer they sell cans of fruit puree. I think they come in 3 lb. 1 oz. sized cans. If I were to add strictly puree to 5 gallons in the secondary, how much should I add or how many cans would roughly be enough?

Thanks again.
Cheers! :cheers:

1 or 2 cans, depending on how much cherry flavor you want.

Also don’t tell the Germans what you’re doing.

They don’t care… :wink:

Couple things I have picked up about fruit in brews.

Frozen does break down cell walls and can get a good flavor and it also helps keep out some contamination. Adding anything not sterile is going to run the risk of contamination.

Fresh, slightly crushed fruit in the secondary just a few days before bottling will have a fresher taste but probably won’t last as long due to risk of contamination.

Some flavor extracts are fine as a boost, just not as the only flavor. I can’t handle cherry extract, tastes just like cough syrup to me. That is the taste I get from Sam Adams Cherry Wheat…I couldn’t even finish one beer.

The options are pretty limitless and there is not really a wrong way. Just know what process you want to try and see it though and take notes.

Not to hijack, but how long do you leave the beer on the fruit before bottling/kegging? A week? Two? Is there another gravity reading involved?

Do you guys use pectic enzyme when you add fruit to your beer (esp. canned puree) to avoid pectic haze?

They don’t care… :wink: [/quote]

They’re too busy trying to keep the eurozone out of the dumper. :stuck_out_tongue: