I use a lot of adjuncts in my brewing and there are a ton of ways one can go about adding fruit to their brew. I don’t like to mess with extracts and I don’t really like the way juices work in beer. However adding a little juice to your beer till you get the flavor you want is a good way to test how much you may need to add without spoiling a whole batch. You just want to be sure to use something that doesn’t have added sugars because it will completely through you off.
There are all sorts of considerations when talking about what to do with different fruits but if you’re just looking to get started I have a few recommendations for you.
- Use whole fruits. A lot of the flavors you want from the fruits are in the skin.
- Freeze your fruit first. Freezing burst a lot of the cell walls in the fruit allowing access to more sugars. Whether you’re putting it in the boil or in the fermentor it’s just going to benefit from this. A
- Prepackaged puree/concentrated is just fine. Just don’t get any with added sugars or preservatives.
- If you’re going to add it during fermentation do it in the secondary. The beer environment at this point is a low pH, less oxygen and has alcohol. Which is not a very good environment for other bacteria and yeasts to grow in.
- Don’t squeeze your bags. If you’ve put your juice mush into a muslin bag or similar, just lift and let it drain when you take it out. Squeezing will impart more bitterness than you want to get out of fruit.
- Compliment with hop profiles. I find there are a lot of similarities in hop profiles and fruits. Finding hops that compliment your fruits really help the flavor come across. But don’t overdo your hops!
After a couple of weeks of kicking around some recipe ideas with Chris and finding the best time to brew we finally were able to collaborate on a new batch of beer. I got to brew into the wee hours of the night with Chris on his 2 bbl system to create Navidad Voyage. A recipe I based on a story that compliments some of the fare you’d find on their menu.
The story behind the beer is based on the third voyage of theSanta Maria, which we all know as the first ship in Columbus’ fleet to land in this great country now dubbed the U-S-of-A. Basically Columbus was not happy that he never really got to explore the West Indies like he had intended and wanted to take a crew down there to check it out. Well it just so happened by the time they got there it was Christmas Eve. And like a bunch of good Americans they decided to celebrate by breaking open the ale barrels.
As the crew started to celebrate more and more they were getting past the ability to steer the ship. So the duties passed off to the lower and lower crew mates until eventually the ship was being guided through the sea by the cabin boy. Not being very experienced at steering a ship he ended up running it into some rocks and damaging it beyond repair. The crew woke up to found they had crashed on Haiti and not being able to salvage the boat they decided to strip the timbers and turn it into a fort. He dubbed it La Navidad. And there it lives to this day. The boat that started it all crashed by a bunch of beer drinkers sitting on an island in the Caribbean.
Using this story we came up with a recipe for a standard English Bitter that they would most likely have on board. But decided to add some local flare with some Guava and All Spice. And being that we had so much fruit in the recipe we decide some salt would be a good addition to bring out the sweetness. Knowing that salt is a tricky substance to work with in beer this seemed like a prime opportunity to play around with it.
The beer is chugging along right now and we’re hoping to have it on tap end of the month. But if you’re not busy anyway why not stop by 508 for any of the other delicious brews on tap and come meet Charlie Papazian Oct 28 while you’re at it! If you can’t catch him at 508 head over to his book signing at Bitter & Esters Oct 29.
Chris has an amazing brewing system that he retrofitted in the restaurant basement. Not originally being thought of as a location to brew beer it’s amazing what one can do with a little creative energy. Just like any NYC homebrewer this system is something that’s unique and you wont find similar builds listed on r/homebrewing. I was super excited and lucky to brew on this set up even the cleaning didn’t seem like a chore! Thank you Chris for giving me the opportunity!
I was lucky enough to go check out the 508 Gastrobrewery system the other day. (And more lucky because I’ll be brewing a batch of beer with it in a couple weeks!). It’s a pretty amazing set up. The brewery was kind of an afterthought for the restaurant and what you can find in there right now is little more than what you might expect to find in an overzealous homebrewer’s garage.
In the end it gets the job done and Chris Cuzme knows his setup well. Producing unique beers like THE BACON CHEESEBRÜGER. Where they actually smoke the malt over some delicious bacon burgers. Unfortunately they were out of the beer when I came in so I never had a chance to enjoy it but I’m sure it was delightful.
I did try everything else on the wall and some of my favorites were the M.V.B. and American Wheat Beer that doesn’t really drink like a wheat beer at all. It had a great body with a hint of having a wheat past but really reminded me more of an summer ale. I also really enjoyed the Rice Cream Ale a tribute to “The King of Beers”. So tasty it makes me wonder why Bud can’t get their S together and make a better brew themselves.
Also, Tuesday nights are $5 beer nights and Chris leads a live Jazz session on the sax. A great night to stop by and enjoy some music, great beer and delicious food.
I recently created a beer that included cayenne pepper in the mix. I used about 1.5 ounces for my 5 gallon batch and I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. It didn’t leave the traditional sting on my mouth most oils from other peppers do when I have them in beer.
It may be because I used the powdered version. I did supply some nice heat to the beer but was only present after you had a complete swig of the beer. It was a nice compliment to the sweet flavors coming across in the beer and definitely gave me more hope for future explorations with peppers in my recipes.
I added it at flame out which was plenty of time of it to build into the wort without overpowering everything. What surprised me most is how apparent it was when I tasted the wort, then almost completely gone right before the cold crash. By the final tasting though it was right about where I wanted it to be.
Photo: Pink Sherbet Photography
I don’t need to say much on this one, just check out this post!
The recipe I’m working on with Singlecut is a hop forward ale that’s inspired by Link Ray. Link Ray is famous for the many songs but most notably Rumble and he influenced a TON of rock gods. He also was the first person to really get down and dirty with some distortion and paving the way for the future or rock, grunge and metal.
Link had an amp that he stabbed with a pencil to produce the distorted sound he was looking for in his songs. He called it “fuzz tone”. Link was also a southerner born in North Carolina. It’s these two facts that stood out to me the most about Link and I used for my catalyst to create a recipe.
I originally wanted to create a sour beer but given the time from brew day to the event I really can’t mess around with any Brett (as recommended by Singlecut). So instead we’ll focus on some wheat malts in the recipe to let a funky flavor shine through in the beer, representing what I think as fuzz tone.
And one thing I know about folks from North Carolina is that they love their BBQ and it is very different from other states BBQ. I did a lot of research on different NC style recipes and found they use brown sugar, molasses, cayenne and pepper corn in a lot of their sauces.
I’m going to use the brown sugar and molasses to add some flavor to the beer and make it even more funky but also to increase the ABV. And being that Link was such a trendsetter and really stood out from the other artists of his time I wanted to leverage the spice in NC recipes to make the beer grab your attention with a little kick.
I’ll be working with some Chinook and Citra hops to bitter and bring on a lot of aroma, this is something that Singlecut does with a lot of their beers. It’s going to be a hop forward ale leveraging the yeast from the brewery themselves. I’ve been in many email communications with the brewers themselves over this recipe and we’re all very excited to give this one a whirl.
There will be a follow up post for this after brew day, so stay tuned!
I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I was a lucky son of a gun and was selected to compete in the NY Pro Am Brew PIT. The first step in the process is to be paired with a brewery and then spend some time at their location to learn their process and how the formulate their recipes. From this experience the home brewer is sent off to his respective inspiration zone and create a recipe in the style of the brewery.
The brewery I’ve been paired with is Singlecut Beersmiths. To be honest I was a bad beer fan and had not visited this brewery before even though it’s in an adjacent borough. Same on me. But after spending the day there and learning about the brewery and tasting their delicious beers I realized I’ve done myself a disservice.
Singlecut specializes in unique lagers and hop forward ales that are inspired by rock musicians. The term “singlecut” comes from the style of guitar that has a single cut in the neck and makes it a more difficult instrument to play. And that’s how they approach their brewing. No shortcuts!
This is a great mantra to pair with my home brew and personal style. I’m excited to collaborate on the recipe. Future post to come!
Check out some of the fun photos from the brewery below. Including an elevated stage for the rock shows they have at the brewery, 60 gallon fermentors on their laid on their side for a larger surface area and some photos of the brew that day Neil, an IPA blended in a Stout!