I was really using this beer as a giant über-starter for a Belgian golden strong ale I planned to brew. On an episode of the excellent Basic Brewing Radio podcast (I forget which one) the guest suggested that there were a lot of similarities between the golden strong ale yeast and the hefewizen yeasts and that GSA yeast makes a great wheat beer, so I decided to brew using the Belgian yeast. I was hoping the low bitterness and tartness of this style would let the cherry flavour through. It worked brilliantly! The colour was incredible – a very pale pink with a white ‘moussey’ head. At the low fermentation temperature there weren’t very many esters and phenols, but that was OK because I was going to add fruit anyway.

I served this beer at my 40th birthday party and we went through most of the borrowed keg I put it in.

Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.039 SG
Original Gravity: 1.043 SG
Final Gravity: 1.007 SG
ABV: 5.0%(ish)
Colour: 5 EBC (a delicate pale pink)
BU:GU Ratio: 0.18

Mash water: 17L
Sparge water: 15L

Grain (total: 5kg):
Gladfields Ale Malt 2.5 kg (45%)
Gladfields Wheat Malt 2.5 kg (45%)
Syrup from a jar of cherries preserved in rum 500g (10%)

30g Tettnang 3.1% (9 IBU) @ 60min

Mash at 50°C for 20 mins
Raise to 68°C and rest for 60 mins

Sparge and boil for 60 mins

Ferment at 17°C with WLP570-Belgian Golden Ale.

Rack to secondary and add 1kg of roughly chopped Malborough cherries and 1 vanilla bean. Let it sit for 5 days and then bottle.

I bottled the leftovers from the keg and it lasted well – the cherry flavour stayed intact after a few months. I didn’t sanitise the cherries in any way – I chopped off any blemishes, roughly chopped them, froze them to break the cell walls and then just chucked them in. I didn’t want heat to ruin the fresh cherry flavour. I might have been lucky to get away with it, but I had no issues with infections from the cherries. Having said that, I don’t think this is a cellering beer. It’s a crisp, tart, fruity summer beer and needs to be consumed young.

There were sparging issues with this beer. It was before I really had my crush size optimised for the Grainfather and it just wouldn’t drain through. I ended up dumping the grain into my grain-bag lined chillybin with the sparge water and swooshing it all around before lifting out the grain bag and transferring the ‘second runnings’ to the Grainfather. Thank goodness I still have my old Brew In A Bag kit lying around!

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