26 July 2008

strawberry ale

The last week of June, with strawberries abound and more coming, I decided to try a go at making a strawberry wheatbeer. I started with a 2 gallon batch of wheat beer (in a 3 gallon carboy). It included: 1 pound Munton's light malted barley, 2 pounds Munton's wheat malt and a pound of unmalted wheat flakes. It is lightly hopped. I let it cool, overnight, protected by cheesecloth — hoping to excite and invite the various microflora of my neighborhood.

I've read that strawberry ales need to be enjoyed young, and that strawberries do poorly with fermentation — with all that activity and release of CO2 the strawberryness escapes. So I brewed that for a week and then added maybe 4 pounds of strawberries — whole and crushed — for a second fermentation for two-and-a-half weeks.

It then spent a week in the bottle with some more light malt for a final fermentation/conditioning.

And it's wonderful. It has a nice berry tartness with a slight acetic tartness — nothing overwhelming, nowhere near a wild-fermented cider —, it's light and it has an aroma that really is of fresh strawberries. The carbonation is light and has the fine bubbles of a sparling wine. And the tartness with that is magnificent.

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