My cherry beer for this year mixes sweet and sour cherries on a nut-brown base.
The cherries in this recipe don’t stand out like in a Bellevue Kriek, but they create a very balanced beer that is difficult to classify. If you don’t know its a cherry beer, then you probably won’t be able to guess. But if you know what to look for, then both the sweet and sour cherries are evident. I would compare the fruit-beer balance of my cherry nut-brown to Swan’s recent Berry Ale (hope you were lucky enough to try that).
Make the Base Beer
- Mash in at °67 C (°152 F) for 1.5 hours.
- Sparge for 1.25 hours.
- Add hops and boil for 1.5 hours.
- Cool and pitch yeast.
Prepare the Cherries
- Wash the cherries.
- Split the cherries open, keeping the pits.
- Freeze the cherries and pits.
- Defrost the cherries.
When primary fermentation is done or almost done:
Combine Cherries and Base Beer
- Rack the beer to another primary fermenter (you need the headspace when the fruit starts fermenting).
- Add the cherries.
Fermentation will restart. Leave the cherries on the beer for at least two weeks (I’ll try three weeks next time).
- Rack to secondary.
- Refridgerate to clear the beer.
- Bottle or keg as normal.
- 4.5 kgs (10 lbs) 2-Row
- .45 kgs (1 lb) Barley Flakes
- .23 kgs (.5 lbs) Crystal
- .23 kgs (.5 lbs) Wheat Malt
- .23 kgs (.5 lbs) Chocolate Malt
- 28 g (1oz) Northern Brewer (boil)
- Wyeast 1056 American Ale
- 1 kg (2.2 lbs) Sweet Cherries
- .9 kgs (2 lbs) Sour Cherries
OG = 1.048
FG = 1.015
Note: The actual alcohol content is much higher because the sugar from the fruit is not counted in this calculation.
If I had my experimental platform set up when I brewed this, then I probably would have made a small lambic version on the side. I think this recipe would be perfect as a lambic.
You could also make this in to a fruitier beer. I don’t think I would go over 1.4 kgs (3 lbs) of sour cherries because this recipe is pleasantly sour, but I’d be willing to try between 2-3 kgs (4.4-6.6 lbs) of sweet cherries. I’d love to hear from people who have used a larger quantitiy of cherries in their beers.
I don’t advise using fewer cherries. The cherry flavour in this recipe is already quite subtle.