Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Rhubarb Experiment

Before Xmas a friend and I decided to brew up some rhubarb-based beers. The concept was fairly simple: brew a batch of wheat ale, then split it into three beers after primary fermentation. Each of the three would have a rhubarb-something mixture added to it for flavour.

The beer recipe was a simple wheat ale:
Recipe Overview
Pre-Boil Wort Volume: 47.00 l Post-Boil Wort Volume: 40.00 l
Pre-Ferment Batch Volume: 40.00 l
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.046 SG Expected OG: 1.054 SG
Expected FG: 1.013 SG
Expected ABV: 5.3 % Expected ABW: 4.2 %
Expected IBU (using Tinseth): 23.6 IBU Expected Color: 6.7 SRM
Mash Efficiency: 85.0 %
Boil Duration: 60.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 19 degC
Yeast: Alley Kat House Ale Yeast

Ingredient Amount % When
Alley Kat 2-Row Pale 4.30 kg 55.6 % In Mash/Steeped
US White Wheat Malt 3.20 kg 41.4 % In Mash/Steeped
German CaraRed 0.20 kg 2.6 % In Mash/Steeped
UK Black Malt 0.03 kg 0.4 % In Mash/Steeped
The black malt was just to add a slight reddish colour... not that it mattered after adding the rhubarb.

Variety Alpha Amount Form When
US Cascade 6.5 50 g Pelletized Hops All Of Boil
US Cascade 6.5 25 g Pelletized Hops 5 Min From End

So, after fermentation was complete, the following rhubarb solutions were made:
In all cases 2 kg of frozen unsweetened chopped rhubarb was added to a few L of water. (next time only add 1 cup per kg of rhubarb!)

3x28 fl oz of unsweetened apple sauce.
approx 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
approx ½ tsp ground nutmeg
dash of ginger
2 x 341 mL beer cups of dextrose

Brought all to boil then covered and simmered for ~20 min. Put in fridge and cooled to ~55 C. Poured into carboy, racked beer on top, final temp 29 C. Put into fridge for 10 more min. Stirred and added ~125 ml AK yeast slurry.
Gravity of apple solution: 9.3 P
Volue of apple solution: about 8 L
pH of final mixture: 3.4

341 ml Summerland Sweets blueberry syrup
approx 250g frozen wild blueberries
approx 250g frozen saskatoon berries.
Hint of cinnamon
1 x 341 mL beer cup of dextrose

Brought to boil, dumped to carboy, racked beer on top. Final mixture temp 24 C. Added AK ale yeast ~125 ml, stirred.
Gravity of berry solution: 9.2 P
Volume of solution: about 7 L
pH of final mixture: 3.4

28 g dried orange peel
1 tsp ground ginger
About 5 L. No dextrose added. Added to 11 L carboy.

So far, the fermentation completed a long time ago (more than a month, as this was done Dec 22!). We haven't got around to racking the beers off, but they are sitting in a nice temperature controlled room at about 2 degC, so they should be ok.
Lessons learned so far:
-Don't add more that 1 cup of water for the 2 kg of frozen rhubarb, as it contains water as well and makes the beer reallly watery.
-The yeast will ferment the sugars from the rhubarb solutions, and the rhubarb strings will plug up the outlet of your carboy, causing a messy beer explosion...

Anyway, we're going to rack these off tomorrow. Hopefully they taste ok enough. I need to figure out a way to clear up the beer as there is SO much shit in it from the fruits.


Anonymous said...

What did you think of the Rhubarb beer? How did it turn up?

bwestcott said...

It ended up being quite nice an sour, and won a silver medal in the fruit beer category at a home brew competition.

Amy Beaith said...

excellent idea! your recipes sound yummy.