This evening I transformed what started out as a dunkelweizen into Hump’s Berry Weizen. Or at least I set the ball rolling (it isn’t finished yet!).

I tasted the work in progress before adding the fruit. The still-fermenting-but- past-krausening beer was delicious. Long ago I crafted a dunkelweizen recipe, but I will have to update it to be very similar to this one (but without the berries).

It almost seemed sinful to add the fruit. That may sound silly, but I have had some not-so-awesome experiences with fresh fruit and beer. Generally it seems very hard to really capture fresh fruit in the aroma and taste of the beer. It seems one must use a lot of fruit to get noticeable flavors – and then the rapid re-fermentation of fruit juices expels the fruit aroma. I am quite certain that many (probably most) commercially-produced fruit beers are made with fruit extract instead of real, fresh fruit.

But if I can master the use of fresh fruit in the product, I think it will add a lot of great character. After all, authentic Lambics use real fruit – and they are divine!

The last time I used fruit in a recipe was my “Fermented Pancakes” recipe. I used 24 oz. of frozen blueberries in a 4 gallon batch. There was virtually no berry flavor or aroma in the finished product. The only evidence of the use of fruit was that the beer had a slight touch of violet in its color and a touch of pink in the foam. This time I’ve used 48 oz. of frozen berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries) in a 3 gallon batch. That is close to three times the ratio of berries to beer. Hopefully that will provide the right level of berry taste and aroma in the finished product. If not then I’ll have to use even more next time…