Raspberry Beret Blonde Ale

An all-grain homebrew recipe that uses both fresh raspberries and raspberry flavoring to maximize the fruit character of the beer

Nothing can replace the wonderful flavor and aroma of fresh raspberries, but overdoing it can impart an unpleasant seed flavor. That’s where the fruit flavoring ramps up the raspberry flavor while avoiding that very problem. As a bonus, the raspberry flavoring seems to really make the aroma explode from the glass. With only a few minor tweaks, and an armload of raspberries into the fermentor, this beer is built on the foundation of our Blonde Moment Recipe.

While not the most innovative style to doctor with fruit, there is a good reason it’s been done so many times. The core of any highly desired fruit beer is a great base recipe. We’ve previously posted How To Successfully Clone A Homebrew Recipe to help you adjust it for your brewing equipment and technique.

The Recipe

4 lbs Brewers Malt 2-Row
3 lbs Pilsen Malt
2 lbs Vienna Malt
8.0 oz Caramel Malt – 20L
8.0 oz Wheat, Flaked
0.60 oz Mandarina Bavaria [8.10 %] – Boil 10.0 min 2.1 IBUs
1.0 pkg California Ale (White Labs #WLP001)
3 lbs Frozen Whole Raspberries
2 fl oz Raspberry Fruit Flavoring

Raspberry Beret Blonde Ale BeerSmith

Malt

The 2-row is a fairly obvious starting point, but I found the grainy, husky character a bit overpowering in large quantities. The Pilsner malt softens and sweetens it a bit. The Vienna malt provides some complexity by adding a touch of honey and nutty character.

I’ve tried brewing the base Blonde Ale with several crystal malts ranging from 10 Lovibond to 45, and even without any crystal malt at all. The 5% of crystal 20 seems to add just the right kind of sweetness to round out the base malts. The 5% flaked wheat is in there primarily for head formation and retention. When adapting the recipe to Raspberry Beret I saw no need to remove them, but with all that fruit flavor their purpose is undoubtedly diminished.

Hops

The original Blonde Moment recipe calls for a blend of Willamette and Cascade hops late in the boil. For a beer like this, I prefer to get those character hop additions out of the way and let the fruit do the work. Mandarina Bavaria hops used for bittering add a subtle orange note that plays nicely with the raspberry. This recipe only calls for a modest bittering addition, but if you want a bit more hops with your fruit, try adding a bit later in the boil too. Keep the bittering IBU level on the lower end though. I target around 20 IBUs.

Yeast

The Chico yeast strain is a fairly predictable choice for any Blonde. WLP001 California Ale Yeast happens to be what my local homebrew shop carries, but other versions out there will work well. The strain’s versatility cannot be overstated. Not only can it successfully ferment within a wide range of temperatures and pitching rates, it can be saved and stored for longer periods than most other strains. I regularly save Chico yeast in between batches and it comes right back to life when needed, even after several weeks in the fridge. More delicate strains can’t be saved for more than a few days without seeing a significant impact on yeast viability.

Brewing Technique

Carefully calculate your water volumes. Mashing toward the low end of the saccrification range is best for this recipe. It should be a lighter bodied beer. I target 149°-150°F.  Like any recipe that includes Pilsner malt, it should get at least a 90 minute boil to drive off DMS precursors. Chill all the way to fermentation temp (66°F) before pitching the yeast. That temperature is on the lower end for the yeast, but it will help to limit the fruity ester character. For a more detailed look at how I brew, check out Indoor Homebrewing Brew Day Step By Step.

Ferment for 3-4 days at 66°F. When the krausen drops by two-thirds, raise the temperature to 70-72°F for a diacetyl rest. After a few days, add the frozen raspberries to a secondary fermentor and rack the finished beer on top. Allow the beer to soak on the raspberries for 7 days before slowly dropping it to fridge temperature and racking to a keg. If bottling, don’t drop the temperature and bottle as usual. Add the raspberry fruit flavoring to the bottom of the keg or bottling buckets before racking the beer to make sure it mixes in completely. A mesh screen is helpful in minimizing those pesky raspberry pieces from transferring to the final package.

I hope you give this recipe a shot and let me know how it turns out.

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