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Cranberry Wheat Ale

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 28 February 2017 at 10:52
Cranberry Wheat Ale - Recipe from Brooklyn Brew Shop

On February 16th, 2017, I brewed a Cranberry Wheat Ale, from Brooklyn Brew Shop’s BEER MAKING BOOK. As with all of my "Tips and Advice" threads, this will be a running account of the experience and the things that I learn during the process.

This all-grain, 1-gallon recipe is for an American wheat ale that combines Pale Ale, Pale Wheat and Munich malts, with an addition of cranberries to provide ambience and just a hint of colour. It is described by Brooklyn Brew Shop as “a light wheat beer for a refreshing compliment to [a] holiday spread” At 5% ABV, it sounds great to me, but I’m not specifically making it for any holiday spread in particular; rather, I am making it because The Beautiful Mrs. Tas requested it. Of course, if there is still any around at Easter time, I’m betting that it will be a great addition to the meal!

Brooklyn Brew Shop wanted to add some “citrusy’ highlights to this beer, which uses Chinook hops for bittering and Amarillo hops for flavour and aroma. I considered using a “milder” hop, rather than the Chinook, because I had concerns that the final result might be “resiny.” After thinking about it, however, I decided to go ahead and trust the recipe, so we’ll see how things end up. One thing is for sure, they sure smelled nice! You can learn more about the Chinook hop here:

http://brooklynbrewshop.com/themash/hop-of-the-week-chinook/

The Amarillo hops are ones that I’ve used before, with great results. Their well-known grapefruity characteristics will make an interesting addition to this beer, and I expect them to work well with it. You can learn more about Amarillo hops here:

http://brooklynbrewshop.com/themash/amarillo-hops/

Brooklyn Brew Shop recommends a “fruity” American yeast in general for this beer, and Safale S-05 in particular, which is known for clean fermenting with the potential for fruity characteristics. I do not personally have much experience with it, but I have liked the beers that I’ve brewed with it so far, and I am sure that it will be very fine for this ale. I recently used S-05 for my brew of the original Blue Moon clone, and it seems to have performed nicely, leaving a very clean-looking beer after cold-crashing.

The star of this recipe, of course, is the addition of cranberries for a bit of tartness and a hint of reddish colour. Brooklyn Brew Shop advises to add 1 cup of fresh or frozen cranberries at knock-out; however, I decided to add 1.5 cups, since I can never just leave well enough alone. In my experience, they are a bit conservative with their additions, so I figured that bumping them up a bit wouldn’t hurt too much. It will be interesting to see how they play with the beer, and I’m looking forward to trying this.

For those of you who have followed any of my brewing posts, you know that, for me, the label is an important part of the brew; specifically, I try to find an image that has some relevance to the beer I am brewing at the time, while also having some personal significance to my family, our history, or myself personally. Since I am brewing this beer at my wife’s request, I thought it would be pretty cool for her to choose the image; the funny thing is, we both had pretty much the same general idea for this beer: a winter scene with a bird (or birds). Here is the image that she picked out:



I like it, and I think it will be very appropriate for this beer.

For those who are into stats, I plugged the recipe into Brewer’s Friend and came up with these numbers:

OG - 1.047
FG - 1.008
ABV - 5.08
IBUs - 37.48
SRM - 11.67

Depending on my estimated efficiency, the ABV goes up or down a bit; using the efficiency that I usually assume, the ABV was 5.47...no big deal, either way. The IBUs are a little higher than most beers I brew; but, hey - these are Chinook hops we’re talking about...I’ll try the beer as-written and see how it turns out!

The brew itself went very well. The mash temperatures stayed well within the desired range; the sparge went smoothly with no sticking; the boil, hop additions, chill-down and pitching of the yeast were all textbook, as far as I could tell. I had no troubles or complications, and am thankful for that.

I checked on the wort the next morning, and saw the definite first stages of fermentation, as the yeast was getting churned up and ready to do its thing. On BrewDay+3, I will remove the blow-off tube and replace it with an airlock, and we’ll go from there.

All-in-all, I think that this will be a great beer for late winter, assuming that I do my part. If anyone is interested in trying this recipe, feel free to shoot me a PM and I can email it to you; I am reluctant to post it on the open forum, as it is not “my” recipe. I would also recommend picking up this book, as well as their second book, MAKE SOME BEER. Both of these books have a lot of good information for the beginning homebrewer, with plenty of room to grow; additionally, I find the recipes to be quite inspiring, with interesting creativity and enthusiastic descriptions. I’ve been happy with all of the ones that I’ve tried so far.

As always, I welcome feedback and suggestions with this - I consider myself to be very much a beginning brewer, and batting ideas around is always good for learning new things. Please feel free to chime in, follow along or otherwise participate in the discussion.

More as it happens, etc. &c....

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 February 2017 at 10:55
Quote 20 February 2017 -

The beer is looking good so far; I switched out the blow-off tube for an airlock today. Fermentation activity is slow, but steady, which is exactly the same as when I used S-05 before for my Blue Moon clone. It looks like we're on a good track.


Quote 24 February 2017 -

I took a peek at this beer last night, and it looks as though everything is on schedule.

It does indeed have just a hint of red mixed in with the normal colour expected from a wheat beer, but it's just a smidgen...adding a "blush" to the look of it.

Best of all, it smelled absolutely amazing - I can't even describe it, but it was incredible. Not really "wheaty," and not even "cranberry-y," but at some wonderful point in-between.

I'll most likely bottle it the first weekend in March - maybe the weekend after; at that time, I'll probably have a little left over for a sample, and we can get an idea of what we're ending up with.
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Here is the label that I put together for this beer -

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 March 2017 at 09:36
Quote 4 March 2017 -

I put this beer in to cold crash Saturday evening, 4 March 2017. It's probably not necessary with this wheat beer, but I do like to compact the sediment down in order to get that last little bit out of the fermenter.

I will try to bottle it tonight or tomorrow, and will hopefully get a wee sample at that time.


Quote 9 March 2017 -

I bottled this beer last night, 8 March 2017, and I believe that I am on to something pretty good with it.

The beer looked really nice, with a very slight tinge of red; more of a blush, I would say. It was clearer than I expected, but I managed to muck that up by sucking up a little more trub than I should have. This will settle in the bottle, of course, and I hope that it stays there when I open and pour the finished beer.

The aroma was pretty interesting - the combination of Chinook and Amarillo must be a good one. The main impressions I got were malty, citrusy, maybe a bit floral, and a bit fruity, but I must stress that I am not good at coming up with these types of descriptors; mainly, it simply smelled really good!

I decided to try the Fermentor's Favorite "Fizz Drops" for carbonating this beer. I'm a pretty big fan of Brewer's Best Carbonation Tablets, which allow you to control your level of carbonation a bit, but decided that these others might be worth a try.

I was just able to get 9 bottles from this batch, with about a half-cup left over for sampling. It was good - better than expected! It had a nice, clean maltiness that I liked, well-balanced by the hops. There was a freshness to the over-all impression that provided a pretty nice support for the citrusy hops and slight tartness from the cranberries. It might have been my imagination, but there seemed to be an almost cherry-like quality to it; then again, it was only a very small sample (which I split with my #2 son), and I might not have been able to get an accurate impression. Carbonation, bottle conditioning, and simple time will be the final determining factors, but it certainly made a very good first impression.

One thing that surprised me was the lack of harshness in the bitterness. This is, as far as I can recall, the highest-IBU beer that I have brewed, including some porters and stouts, but it didn't hit me like I thought it would. The experience has inspired me to look more into the balancing relationships between malts and hops.

In two or three weeks, we'll see what we have....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 April 2017 at 08:48
I sampled this finished beer for the first time this past Saturday, 1 April 2017, and it was very good!

The beer poured very well, with a nice, bubbly head that lingered pretty well. It seemed to me that it was a little under-developed, but not by much, and I am guessing it will improve a little more over time. If not, it's pretty darn nice, now. The appearance was pretty clear for a wheat beer, and had a nice, darkish tinge to it that looked great - almost, but not quite orangeish. The smell was bright and fresh. The taste was also really nice. I definitely caught some tartness from the cranberries, and the Chinook/Amarillo combination was wonderful - slightly citrusy. The bitterness was right on point for my tastes, and the malts were in great balance.

I know that we associate cranberries with Thanksgiving and Christmas, as the wind starts howling and the snow starts falling - but this seemed to be a slice of Spring, to me, not to mention the promise of summer. I could easily be enjoying this on the shores of the lake with a fishing pole in one hand. Then again, it would be just as good while decorating a Christmas tree, to be honest.

This was a first taste, so I was too busy reacting to it to be more specific than that. In all, it was excellent, and I would happily brew this one again. My dad also enjoyed it very much, which was music to my ears.

If you've been thinking about giving this a try, please do so. No need to wait until fall or winter - it seems to me that now is a great time to enjoy it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 April 2017 at 13:09
Here's a photo, from 1 April 2017:

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 April 2017 at 15:57


I tried another one over the weekend, and it was very good, improved in almost every way.

The head was more developed, and just about right, with lacing that looked really nice. The aroma was great - the cranberries came through very well with a some pleasant fruitiness and a bit of citrus, perhaps. This transferred to the flavor, which was fresh and fairly well-balanced. It's unique, and it's good.

The best thing about this was that The Beautiful Mrs. Tas, who inspired my brewing of this beer, tried it and liked it. This is quite an accomplishment, because she is not a beer drinker in the least, and she has only tolerated a couple of my previous brews. On this one, she said beforehand that she would let me know if she didn't like it, so that I could get an honest assessment, but after trying it, she was impressed.

The more I try this, the more it seems like a really good beer for any time of the year. I might back the hops off a small bit the next time I make this, but it would be a personal preference only; it's probably right where it "should" be.
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