Homebrew Adventures – Blueberry Wheat

What you see here are the remnants of blueberries and trub at the bottom of my secondary fermenter after bottling a blueberry wheat ale over the weekend. It’s my second fruit-based wheat beer – the watermelon wheat turned out great.

I used a basic wheat beer base for the beer and added 4.5 pounds of blueberries when I moved the beer over to secondary. I bought the blueberries fresh during a sale at my local Whole Foods and froze them to break down the cell walls, making it easier for flavor extraction while the blueberries sat in the fermenting beer. A week before I used them I defrosted them a bit and smashed them up to make sure more juice would be available to seep into the beer. I refroze them and defrosted them again before adding them to the beer.

After I was done bottling I tasted a few of the berries, which didn’t seem to have any of their natural flavor left. They mostly tasted like beer. I took this as a good thing that as much blueberry flavor was taken out as possible.

The one downside to this was during my research for the beer a common theme was how hard it was to get good blueberry flavor by using real blueberries. Most homebrewers seemed to suggest you’d need a 2:1 ratio of berries to beer, meaning I would’ve needed almost 10 pounds of blueberries in my batch to get the best taste. Mine was about 1:1. I think the beer will turn out fine, but the blueberry flavor may just take a backseat to the wheat. We’ll see.

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10 thoughts on “Homebrew Adventures – Blueberry Wheat

  1. My wife says she would like to help me make a blueberry wheat. Not sure when I will get around to it, but if my wife wants it, usually I will eventually brew it, so it will be coming sometime.

    So far, all the fruit beers I have made have used canned fruit puree and/or fruit extract. Think I will go that route again.

    • I made an apricot wheat with canned puree and that turned out great. I had a failed experiment with a fruit extract that was too candy-like for me, so after this brew, I’ll probably sway toward puree too. It seems to offer the right balance of flavor and ease for me.

  2. I haven’t brewed a fruit beer before, mainly because I don’t especially enjoy drinking them, but this has tempted me to try.

    Is there anything to bear in mind when choosing a base recipe? It sounds as though you usually use wheat beers. Is that personal preference or does barley not lend itself as well?

    Hope the beer turns out well.

    • I hope so too! Cheers!

      In my limited experience, I’ve stuck with wheat beers because that backbone has lent itself to an ideal balance with fruit flavor. An evenly balanced pale ale could work as well – think Magic Hat #9. But it’s certainly up to preference.

      I used a blonde ale base for a jalapeno ale because I knew the blonde style would really let the pepper take over. I want to make a fruit – perhaps raspberry – stout because I think the roasted and chocolate flavor would pair well.

      To me, the important thing to focus on is a light(ish) body, low IBU base that will allow for the fruit to shine through. I think that wheat beers help to enhance/supplement the sweetness of fruit flavor, for what it’s worth.

      On the plus side, whatever kind of beer base you decide on, you can start with a little bit of fruit in the secondary and add more until you reach the level you’re looking for.

      • For what it is worth … I like to add Cherries to my annual X-Mas ale, which is (so far) has been a pretty dark / rich / caramelly / malty beer. In this case, fruit is more of a side-note adding depth of character. I don’t even call it a fruit beer, although it contains almost as much fruit as my “fruit beers”.

        So, it doesn’t have to be a light colored / bodies / flavored beer, although most of them are to let the fruit flavor shine through.

  3. That’s a great point, Sheppy, and something I should have mentioned.

    For the fruit beers I’ve made, I purposefully wanted the fruit to be front-and-center. Hence, the wheat base. But there are obviously lots of other styles to use when you want the fruit to be part of the complexity and not just the main attraction. Thanks for bringing this up!

    • These are useful tips – I’ve just added a fruit beer to my ever growing list of next brews.

      Thinking about it now, I’m wondering if cake making is a good starting point when looking for interesting flavour combinations.

      Your stout with raspberries idea reminds me of chocolate cheesecake with a layer of fruit on top, and Sheppy’s Christmas ale sounds as rich and delicious as Christmas cake.

  4. I just brewed a roasted pecan pumpkin ale that smells pretty much like heaven as its fermenting right now 🙂

    Haven’t gotten too crazy with the fruit beers yet, but this post and comments are definitely making me want to try something out this winter. I have a buddy who’s brewed a really nice cherry chocolate stout that I may have to try out…

    • A cherry-chocolate stout was actually the first brew I made about a year ago! Lesson I learned – don’t use artificial flavorings. I added a bottle of cherry flavor at the bottling stage and it was way too much. I liked the flavor I got out of cocoa nibs, but I’d be curious how real cherries would do.

      What has your friend done for adjuncts to flavor?

      • I know he’s used real cherries but not sure exactly how he added them and at what stage, may have added them to the secondary. And yeah it’s really easy to go overboard with the sweet flavors, I’ve always found the tastiest crazy beers like this have subtle hints of the fruit or vegetable. Especially when it comes to pumpkin beers!

        I’ve brewed with cocoa powder (turned out great!) for a few different beers but never nibs, gotta add that to my to brew list!

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