Raspberry Belgian 2021

According to my records, this is the fifth time I’ve made Raspberry Belgian. It is one of my favorite recipes, without a doubt. The process is a fair bit of work, and it’s not the cheapest thing to brew, but WOW, are the results worth it!

My approach to this has morphed considerably over the years, and there are inevitably some variations in ingredients and process. So, every time is different, even if they’re all more or less in the same flavor space.

As before, the key to this recipe is using fresh/frozen raspberries. Tons and tons of raspberries–4.5 pounds, to be precise. I used just frozen ones this time, which I thawed and pureed before adding to the fermenter. Canned purees just don’t “pop” in the same way. For souring, I tried out the Lactobacillus Blend from Omega Labs, which is what the local shop had on-hand. Past versions of the recipe used acidulated malt in the grist, which was a hold-over from the original “bacteria-free” version, and I decided to just ditch that because it was unnecessary.

Raspberry Belgian 2021

  • 6.5 lb. Viking Pilsner Zero Malt
  • 2.5 lb. white wheat malt (Great Western)
  • 1 lb. flaked wheat
  • 0.5 lb. Carapils malt (Briess)
  • 0.5 lb. rice hulls
  • 0.5 oz. Magnum hop pellets (10.1% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. WLN1000 yeast nutrient (White Labs), 10 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Belgian Wit Ale Yeast (WLP400), prepared in 1L vitality starter
  • 1 pkg. Lactobacillus Blend (Omega Labs OYL-605)
  • 72 oz. frozen raspberries, pureed

Target Parameters

  • 1.048 o.g., 1.012 f.g., 18 IBU, 4 SRM, 4.8% abv
  • 154° full-volume mash, 60 minutes
  • Overnight kettle sour
  • Claremont tap water, no adjustment

Procedure

  • Way back in May, I made a starter for Pannotia White IPA using WLP400, but it was suuuuper slow to kick off. Worrying that it was dead, I got some Whiteout (Imperial Yeast), but kept the WLP400 starter going just in case. After a day or two, it was off to the races, and so I harvested the results to save for a later brew–which turned out to be the raspberry brew!
  • I mashed in with 7.25 gallons of water at 160°, and held the mash at 154° for 60 minutes with recirculation. I added 7 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust the mash pH. I raised the temperature to 168° for a 10 minute mash-out, and then removed the grain basket.
  • In total, I collected 6.25 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.038, for 61% mash efficiency. This is a bit low, but that seems to be the case for these adjunct-heavy beers (and my mill seems to be not quite tight enough, after inspection of equipment).
  • Next, I boiled the runnings for 5 minutes, before chilling down to 95°. I added 25 mL of 88% lactic acid, to get the pH down to 4.4, and then added the lacto culture. Because I’m using the Foundry, I just let the runnings in the kettle, and set it to maintain temperature at 90°. I did this step on 14 August 2021.
  • After 25 hours, the pH was down to 3.5, right in my target range. I called this perfect!
  • While getting the soured runnings ready, I made a SNS (shaken-not-stirred) starter for the harvested yeast culture.
  • I boiled the runnings, adding hops and yeast nutrients per the recipe. After 60 minutes, I chilled the wort, transferred to the fermenter, and then chilled down to 66° before pitching the yeast starter.
  • I started primary fermentation on 15 August 2021, holding at 66°.
  • On 19 August 2021, I added 72 oz. of pureed frozen raspberries, and raised the temperature to 68°.
  • On 22 August 2021, I brought the beer out to ambient, around 75° or so, to finish up.
  • I kegged the beer on 28 August 2021. At this point, it had a final gravity of 1.013, which works out to 4.0% abv. With the extra sugars from the fruit, actual abv might be a touch higher.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • The beer is gorgeous! I pours with a pink, frothy, and somewhat persistent head. The beer itself is dark pink, and moderately (but not overly) hazy. I think it’s looking clearer than might be usual, because I’m using a floating dip tube. I wouldn’t mind a little extra haze, if it helped augment the mouthfeel and flavor.
  • Aroma
    • Raspberry is prominent, with a bit of tartness also.
  • Flavor
    • The beer is moderately sour, but not over the top. The sour character is clean (one person who tasted it described it as a sour patch kid–that’s a high compliment in my book!). Bitterness is perceived as low. The raspberry comes through very nicely. There might be a slight wheat flavor, but in general I don’t think the malt is terribly perceptible. I’m a bit surprised that the Belgian yeast character doesn’t come through more, either.
  • Mouthfeel
    • This beer has a light body and effervescent quality, with a tart, modestly sour, and dry finish.
  • Would I Brew This Again?
    • This is a wonderful beer! It’s incredibly drinkable, especially during warm weather. I wouldn’t mind a touch more malt character and a little bit more prominent Belgian yeast character…I would be curious to see if it’s genuinely no Belgian character, or if that is just being covered up by the raspberries. Perhaps I’ll try fermenting at a higher temperature next time, to bring out the phenols more prominently. Those are truly minor issues, and really just in the category of optional tweaks to consider.
  • Overall
    • 9/10

Raspberry Belgian 2020

I’ve brewed this beer at least three or four times, and I keep coming back to it as one of my very favorite recipes. It’s crisp, it’s low alcohol, it’s flavorful, and it’s well out of my usual brewing styles. I wouldn’t want this year-round, but it sure is a nice treat every once in awhile!

deep pink beer in Belgian wit glass, held aloft against green tree leaves

My personal take on this recipe–which started out as a clone of Funkwerks Raspberry Provincial–has evolved since I first brewed it in 2017. Every batch is a bit different, especially in the souring strain and the type of raspberry puree added. It never fails to be a great beer.

Raspberry Belgian 2020

  • 4.75 lb. pilsner malt (Weyermann)
  • 2.5 lb. pale wheat malt (Weyermann)
  • 1.75 lb. acidulated malt (BestMalz)
  • 0.5 lb. Carapils malt
  • 0.5 lb. flaked oats
  • 0.5 lb. flaked wheat
  • 6 oz. rice hulls
  • 0.35 oz. Magnum hop pellets (13.2% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.5 pkg. (~5 g) of Wildbrew Sour Pitch (Lallemand)
  • 1 pkg. Whiteout Belgian Wit Yeast (Imperial #B44)
  • 36 oz. raspberry puree

Target Parameters

  • 1.048 o.g., 1.013 f.g., 15 IBU, 3 SRM, 4.5% abv
  • 155° full-volume mash, 60 minutes
  • Overnight kettle sour
  • Claremont tap water, no adjustment

Procedure

  • I mashed in with ~8.5 gallons of water at 160°, to hit a 155° mash temperature target. After 60 minutes, I vorlaufed and collected the full volume of runnings.
  • In total, I collected 6.7 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.033. This was way below my target (and only 57% mash efficiency), so I added 0.75 lb. of extra light DME to bring the gravity up to 1.038.
  • I boiled the runnings for 10 minutes and then chilled to 115°. I added 1 tbs. of 88% lactic acid, to bring the pH down to ~4.4.
  • Once the kettle temp was down to 105°, I added 5 g of the Wildbrew Sour Pitch, stirred gently, and left it on a heating pad in a warm garage.
  • I started the souring process at around 10:30 am on 18 July 2020, and it was down to ~3.35 by the next morning. The sour level was right where I wanted it, when I sampled a little.
  • I boiled the beer for an hour, adding hops per the schedule as well as some yeast nutrient.
  • I chilled the wort and put it into my fermenter, bringing the temperature down the rest of the way in my fermentation chamber. I pitched the yeast, and let it ferment at 66°. The starting gravity was 1.046.
  • I pitched the yeast on 19 July 2020, and added fruit puree on 23 July 2020.
    • To make the puree, I took frozen raspberries (purchased fresh a few weeks prior, sorted, and frozen) and thawed them out. I had 72 ounces by mass, which was around 130 ounces by volume of whole raspberries. 12 ounces by weight should make around 6 ounces of puree by volume, so I ended up with around 36 ounces (a quart) of puree. To make the puree, I heated the raspberries in a double boiler, mashing them up. I heated the mixture to between 150° and 170°, with the bowl sitting in near-boiling water. I let it sit for 15 minutes and then chilled in an ice bath, before adding the puree to the fermenter.
  • I kegged the beer on 1 August 2020. Final gravity at that time was 1.020, for 3.3% abv; I wonder if the yeast hadn’t completely fermented out? I usually agitate the fermenter when I’m using the various Belgian wit strains, because they do tend to stall out without babysitting. Oh well…I figure that any final fermentation will hopefully wrap up in the keg.
  • I added 3.2 oz. of corn sugar boiled for ~2 minutes in 1 cup of water, and then sealed up the keg (adding a touch of pressure to make sure the lid was seated).
  • Carbonation level maxed out at around 24 psi at 72°, which is not terribly great as a level of carbonation for this style. That’s only 2.2 or so volumes of CO2, and I was aiming for 3.0 at least. I used my CO2 talk to top things up.
  • On 9 August 2020 (the same day as the tasting), I decarbonated a sample and measured gravity with both hydrometer and refractometer, getting a final gravity of 1.017. This works out to ~3.8% abv, and if I were to guess, around 4% abv when you factor in the sugars from the raspberry.

Tasting

deep pink beer in Belgian wit glass
  • Appearance
    • Right now (second day on tap for the keg), this beer has a gorgeous deep pink color, with a prominent haze. It pours with a frothy white head that subsides to a relatively continuous thin blanket.
  • Aroma
    • This beer smells like fresh raspberry. I get maybe a little bit of the citrusy Belgian wit yeast character behind that, but the raspberry is front and center here.
  • Flavor
    • What else? Raspberry! More seriously, the beer has a pleasant (but not over-the-top) tartness, with a berry and citrus character. The malt is pretty subdued, and largely overwhelmed by the fruit and sour notes. But, raspberry definitely dominates.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Crisp and light bodied, with a nice smooth finish. Carbonation is high, which gives a pleasant and spritzy character to the beer, but the heavy amount of suspended yeast and the malt bill keep it from being too thin.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is one of my very favorite summer beer recipes. It has evolved considerably from the original clone recipe, and it has further evolved from my initial few attempts. It’s such an interesting beer, and is a good reward for the above-average amount of effort and above-average ingredient cost. The only minor change I might make would be to ditch the acidulated malt–it’s a holdover from the original recipe, which used this malt alone to get the desired sour character.
  • Overall
    • 9/10

A good use for extra fruit puree

I had about 2 cups of raspberry puree left over from the can I added into my in-progress Raspberry Belgian, and was at a bit of a loss as to what to do with it. I didn’t want to let it go to waste, but it’s also not really the sort of thing you can use that readily (outside of a smoothie, I suppose, but I think fresh fruit is way tastier for a smoothie).

Suddenly…inspiration! With grilling season well at hand here in southern California, I decided to roll the leftover puree into a nice marinade. My intention was to make something slightly smoky/sweet/spicy, and the end result definitely succeeded!

This was somewhat thrown together, so the recipe below is just general proportions. So, you should probably modify to taste. You could probably substitute any reasonably “hot” pepper into this–we just happened to have some jalapeños in the freezer.

Raspberry Jalapeño Marinade

  • 2 cups raspberry puree (Vintner’s Harvest brand)
  • 1/2 grilled and seeded jalapeño pepper
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbs. lime juice
  • 1 tbs. minced garlic
  • salt to taste
  • a dash of paprika

Procedure

  • Combine all ingredients, and thoroughly blend using an immersion blender.
  • This produces enough marinade for around 4 large chicken breasts. I cubed the breasts into pieces around 1 or 2 inches across, and let them marinate in the fridge for a few hours. Then, I put the chicken on skewers and grilled over a medium heat. I drizzled extra marinade over the skewers around midway through cooking.
  • The result was really tasty! Interestingly, the raspberry flavor itself didn’t come through that strongly–it was more as a tart accompaniment to the mild heat of the grilled pepper.

20170709_174059

I had a bit of uncontaminated marinade set aside, perhaps a quarter cup total. I mixed this with about a cup and a half of non-fat yogurt, a teaspoon of garlic, a dash of paprika, and a teaspoon of lime juice, for a really tasty yogurt sauce. This made a nice accompaniment for dipping the grilled chicken (as well as the vegetables I also grilled). We have a bit left over, so I think it will be going onto some fish tacos later this week.