Homebrewing is always an adventure. You never know where it will take you…
The batch I brewed up this weekend sent us in search of fresh blueberries. I had heard of a farm on John’s Island where you could pick them yourself relatively inexpensively, and since I needed between 5 and 10 pounds of these little berries, I thought that would be my best bet.
After a 45 minute drive to John’s Island, we stopped at a roadside vegetable stand/museum to ask where we might find this mythological farm. “You ain’t gonna find em here till next May,” was the response I got from the man working the register at the stand. It appears the late frost we had in April pretty much wiped out the blueberry crop this year. Thanks to Nicole, who had scouted out Publix earlier in the week, she knew they had blueberries on sale, 2 pints for $4.
So, instead of freshly picked blueberries from John’s Island, I used 6 pounds of imported New Jersey blueberries. I can just taste the juicy freshness :) (actually, they aren’t bad. I’m sure they’ll be great in the beer.)
This batch is a blueberry wheat. I started with a recipe for a cherry ale and altered it by using a wheat malt extract, a wheat yeast, and blueberries. It’s pretty simple, really. I boiled the malt and bittering hops for an hour, then added crushed blueberries and the flavoring hops for 15 minutes at around 160 degrees for 15 minutes.
As a side note, I have learned that the reason you don’t add fruit to boiling wort is that it will “set the pectin” in the fruit and will create a haziness in the beer. So, in order to pasteurize (sterilize) the fruit, you put it in at the end of the boil for 15 minutes or so and it will kill off any unwanted critters from the fruit. This has been quite an education…
Another twist to this recipe from recipes past is that I did not strain off the beer before putting it in the fermentation bucket. I just dumped the whole mess in there, cooled it, pitched the yeast, and sealed it up, blueberries, hops, and all. This should turn out to be quite an interesting beer when it’s all said and done.