Yesterday we brewed a very unique Cerveza Artesanal. Living at origin in the tropics we have access to a LOT of ingredients that are not available to those in the warmer northern climates. From tropical fruits to fresh dulce de panela. One we have wanted to try since moving here was fresh coffee cherries. But of course fresh ripe, high grown coffee cherries are only available for a short three months of the year so we had to wait till now to get them and brew a beer with them.
Our goal was to use the coffee cherries as a fermentable and flavor ingredient. And we wanted the coffee cherry flavor to come through without competition. So we brewed a simple American Pale Ale cerveza. We wanted a relatively light beer that would have the body and flavor of the coffee cherries without a lot of competition from the malt or hops.And we wanted a subtle hop flavor so we used noble hops and only a light amount for balance.
Here is the basic recipe:
- O.G. 1.059, FG 1.015, IBU: 20, ABV 5.7%
- Grain Bill:
- Pale Ale malt 60%
- Pilsen Malt 10%
- Cara Amber 40L malt 5%
- Red Bourbon fresh Coffee Cherries 25%
- German Tettnang @ 60min
- Chech Saaz @ 10 min
- German Tettnang @ flameout
- Dry Hopping:
- Will dryhop with dried coffee cascara from Finca San Jose
The tough part was estimated the sugar extraction rate of fresh coffee cherries. If we got it wrong the recipe would be off quite a bit. We went through many versions and finally settled on a somewhat low number that felt right based on our coffee roasting background. Apparently we nailed it because we also nailed the exact OG from the recipe. Beer is equal parts art and science but the science has to be much more tight to be right. Tight is good, science is awesome.
This was also the first beer we brewed with the big stash of malt we brought back from our last trip. We did an all grain brew and everything went pretty well. We only got about 76% extraction from the malt and there was some clogging in the mash tun valve but we know now how to fix that. And with the new larger boil kettle we can get much better results, better evaporation, no boilovers and much better heat saturation. We are so glad that we have been brewing constantly for the last 6 months in El Salvador. There is no substitute for actual brewing experience in the location where you will be brewing. We thought that the months of brewing we had done in the US would translate but there are SO many differences that it was like starting over. We now know that the water in El Salvador makes awesome beer if treated and handled expertly. We know how to manage temperatures, we understand the different evaporation rates, the water hardness, the PH balancing act and the extraction rates.
Experience is a hard but efficient teacher.
The beer is happily fermenting away in our temperature controlled fermenters. We split the wort into two batches to test two more yeasts. A Belgian estery but clean strain and a English Windsor yeast that will be more fruity and less flocculent. Now all we have to do is wait two weks for primary and secondary fermentation and then 2-6 weeks for bottle conditioning.
patience is a virtue we are slowly developing.