Verdict and Recipe: Strawberry Rhubarb Saison

I mentioned in a previous post that I was going out on a limb and brewing my first fruit beer: a strawberry rhubarb saison (based on a recipe I read in Zymurgy).

The Process

IMG_4851

Killing bacteria in the strawberry and rhubarb

I brewed the saison on May 25, added the fruit in secondary on June 23, moved it to a tertiary vessel on July 8, and kegged on July 12.  The first process is simple: brew a saison beer and fully ferment it.  I read about different methods for adding fruit to beer, and different times to add it (anytime from the mash, to boil, to secondary), and opted to add all the fruit after fermentation had completed and during the transfer to secondary.  I added frozen fruit as opposed to fresh, and let the fruit soak in water (over 180 degrees) for about 10 minutes to kill any yeast/bacteria.

Chopping the fruit.I then used a food processor to break the fruit up a bit and expose more of it to the beer in secondary.  I added over 3 1/2 lbs strawberry and 2 lbs rhubarb to my secondary vessel and racked the beer on it.  The beer sat in secondary 2 weeks on the fruit, and I then sanitized a strainer and removed the fruit from the beer (at least as much as I could from the top).  I racked the beer to a tertiary tank, leaving as much of the fruit from the bottom of the secondary vessel in the secondary vessel.  You can add a grain/hop bag over your auto siphon to strain out some of this, but may have to pull the auto-siphon out a number of times to clear the fruit from it.  The tertiary tank will allow the beer to sit off the fruit for a few days, and clear a bit (although this is not a clear beer in the end).

The Results

Summer NightsI have to say, the day I kegged this beer I tasted an uncarbed sample and was not happy.  It tasted very tart/sour due to the rhubarb, and the strawberry was not coming through substantially.  But in my experience, if you don’t like a beer let it sit for a bit and certain flavors will fade away, and other flavors will come through.  It’s been in the keg now for a week and I had a glass today, and the tartness had faded substantially and the strawberry is now coming through.  It’s a lighter beer, and I find that the tartness balances the sweetness well and leaves me wanting another sip (especially on a hot day like today).  I’m looking forward to how it tastes in another week or two!  This one came out at a reasonable 6.7% ABV, making it a good session drink.

The Recipe

If you want to give it a shot, I would recommend it as a good summer beer, but there is some complexity in brewing this, which leaves complexity to the taste.  If you have any questions, feel free to comment below!

I mashed at 152 for 60 minutes.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
4 gal 60 min 24.3 IBUs 4.4 SRM 1.056 1.010 6.1 %
Actuals 1.051 1.01 5.4 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pale Malt (2 Row) US 3.75 lbs 27.52
Wheat - Red Malt (Briess) 3.75 lbs 27.52
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L 8 oz 3.67
Fruit - Strawberry 3.625 lbs 26.61
Fruit - Rhubarb 2 lbs 14.68

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Liberty 0.75 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 4.5
Hallertauer 0.25 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 4.1
Liberty 0.25 oz 15 min Boil Pellet 4.5

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
French Saison (3711) Wyeast Labs 80% 65°F - 77°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Mash In 152°F 60 min

 

4 Comments

Add a Comment
  1. Did it get better with time? Would you add less rhubarb next time? Are you a fan of sour beers in general?

    1. It did – the rhubarb seemed to mellow a bit over time and it was a well balanced beer. The issue was filtration after racking to secondary and into the keg! It just takes a bit more work than I’m accustomed to – you want to scoop as much as you can because if you filter your aerate the beer.

    2. By the way – no – not a fan of sour beers at all, so this was a bit different for me. It was surprisingly pleasant, but best enjoyed during warm weather!

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