Thursday, April 29, 2010

Batch 90, Prickly Pear Beer

I read that Widmer made a Prickly Pear beer this spring. I still had a bunch of prickly pears that I'd picked last fall in the freezer. I'd intended to make another batch of the mead I made a while back, but I never got around to buying the honey. I made up this recipe after doing some research on the internet. Widmer hasn't posted their recipe anywhere, and I haven't tried their version, so I have no idea if this is similar or not. Obviously, I wasn't going for a clone. I just wanted to use the pears before they went bad.

This recipe is for a 10 gallon batch.

8 lbs Canadian 2-row (Gambrinus)
Mash at 155F for 1 hour. Collect 11 gallons. This was hard, my equipment really isn't set up to do small loads of grain. It was a cold and windy day, 45F at mash in, so it was some work to keep the mash at a consistent temp.

1.5 oz Willamette, added at 60 minutes.
6 lbs honey
8 lbs prickly pears. These are about 11% fermentable, or equivalent to 0.9 lbs sugar.

I did a 60 minute boil, or somewhat less... It was cold outside, so I brought the prickly pears into the house to warm them up. I'd thawed them out last weekend and ran them through the food processor, then put them in a bucket in the beer fridge waiting for brew day. Since it was cold outside and the pears had been in the fridge at 37F, I didn't want to just dump them in the boil kettle and have to wait to get the boil back. I put them in a big pot and warmed them on the stove in the house. I added the honey directly to the pears. I got a little scorching on the bottom, but not enough to matter. I dumped the pears and honey mixture into the boil kettle at about 20 minutes, then turned up the heat to get the boil back. It didn't take too long, although afterwards I found out that I should have stirred faster since I did have some scorching in the bottom. Once back to boil, I let it go for about 5 more minutes, then turned off the heat. Standard CFC procedure into the big fermenter.

Wyeast 1272 from batch 87. Just 1 quart. That's enough.

OG: 1.054 actual
ABV: 4.8%
SRM: I'm going to guess 5 or 6 or 7. I have no idea what the pears add to the color. The pears are a deep red on the outside, but greenish on the inside, so the end result is sort of a rhubarb color, more green than red. The slop at the bottom of the brew kettle is mostly green, part hops and part prickly pears, so most of the red color went into the beer. The hydrometer sample was quite tasty, not red at all, sort of smoky flavored. This might be a real interesting beer.

Here's a brew day picture. It was windy, and usually I put a fireplace screen around the active burner to keep Mikki away from the flames. He's been known to stick his head under the burner to lick up some spilled wort or grain and singe his hair. This is a masterpiece of duct tape and aluminum foil.

Update, Oct 8, 2010: I bottled the second keg of this. The first keg is on tap, and the smoke flavor has dissipated somewhat, making this a drinkable but "interesting" beer. I'm hoping that by letting the bottles age a while, the smoke flavor will dissipate even more.

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