Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Blueberry Beer

I love fruity beers, and one of my favorites is Wild Blue - a blueberry lager.  I decided to try to make my own blueberry ale (we aren't getting into making the lagers very much yet).  So, to start I used the Raspberry Wheat Beer recipe I've made before from Northern Brewer (which turned out great) and decided to change the fruit to blueberry.  This is an extract batch.  Here is the boiling wort:




The beer racked into the carboy.





The finished blueberry beer!  It was very good - crisp and fruity. 

 

 

Blueberry Beer




  • 2.5 gallons filtered water
  • 6.3 pounds Wheat Malt Syrup
  • 1 ounce Hersbrucker hops
  • Wyeast #3333 German Wheat
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 four ounce container blueberry extract
  • If kegging, 64 ounces of blueberry juice



  • So, to make beer you need a basic brewing setup.

    To start, smack the yeast pack and let it start puffing up.  You will want to do this about three hours before you are ready to start brewing. 

    Bring 2.5 gallons of water to boil in large 5 gallon pot.  Remove the kettle from the burner and stir in the 6.3 pounds of Wheat malt syrup.  Put the kettle back on the burner and bring the mixture to a boil.  The mixture is now called "wort" - the brewers term for unfermented beer.  When the wort is at a nice rolling boil, add 1 ounce Hersbrucker hops and boil for 60 minutes.  Watch closely to prevent boil overs!

    When the 60 minutes is up, cool the wort to about 100 degrees F as quickly as possible.  We use a wort chiller that Charlie made, but you can put the kettle in an ice bath in your sink. 

    While the wort cools, sanitize your fermenting equipment (carboy, vessel to collect water, airlock, funnel, pair of scissors) and yeast pack. 

    Fill sanitized primary fermenter with two gallons of cold water using the sanitized vessel.  Using the funnel, pour in the cooled wort into the carboy, leaving any thick sludge in the bottom of the kettle.  Add more cold water as needed to bring the volume up to five gallons.

    Seal the fermenter and rock back and forth to splash the liquid for a few minutes, or use an aeration system and diffusion stone. 

    I recommend measuring the specific gravity of the wort with a hydrometer and record.  It should be 1.045.

    Add the yeast when the temperature of the wort is 78 degrees F or lower.  Use the sanitized scissors to cut off a corner of the yeast pack, and carefully pour the yeast into the primary fermenter.  Seal your fermenter with your airlock that is filled with about 1 tablespoon sanitized water.  Move to a warm, dark and quiet spot.  If it isn't dark, cover the carboy with a tee shirt or something (it is important to keep the light off of the fermenting beer).

    Active fermenting should begin within 24-48 hours of pitching the yeast.  You will see bubbles coming through the fermentation lock, and a cap of foam will be on the surface of the beer.  Approximately 1-2 weeks after brewing, the active fermentation will end: you will know this when the cap of foam falls back into the new beer, and the bubbling in the airlock slows down or stops.  At this time, transfer the beer to a sanitized secondary fermenter using sanitized siphoning equipment.  Allow the beer to condition in the secondary fermenter for 2-4 weeks.  Timing is now somewhat flexible.

    Now, it is time to either bottle or keg the beer.  We keg the beer and have a CO2 tank to carbonate the beer.  We graduated to this after years of bottling (bottling is a lot more work).

    Since I kegged the beer, I was able to add most of a 64 ounce container of blueberry juice, just to up the fruity-juiciness of the beer.  To do this, rack your beer into the sanitized keg.  Add the blueberry extract to taste (I used all 4 ounces) and top it off with as much as you can of the blueberry juice.  Close it up and rock back and forth to mix.  Proceed as usual, making sure to refrigerate your keg (this will stop the fermentation that the blueberry juice probably would have started). 

    However, if you are going to bottle this beer, you cannot add the blueberry juice.  To do so would restart fermentation in an uncontrolled manner (maybe you could add the juice somehow, but I haven't experimented with it enough to figure out how to do it without blowing up your bottles).  Maybe just add a little extra blueberry extract!  To bottle, sanitize siphoning and bottling equipment.  Mix a priming solution of 2/3 cup priming sugar in 16 ounces of water.  Bring the solution to a boil and pour into the bottling bucket.  Siphon the beer into bottling bucket and add blueberry extract to taste.  Stir gently to mix: don't splash.  Fill and cap bottles.  Condition the bottles at room temperature for 1-2 weeks.  After this point, the bottles can be stored cool or cold.  To serve, pour into a clean glass, being careful to leave the layer of sediment at the bottom of the bottle. 

    Enjoy!  Please feel free to ask questions and I will try to help!

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