Farmer’s Market Framboise • Illustration by David Witt

Wild ales + fruit = a beguiling combination. The classic archetype is cherries or raspberries added to a mature lambic to create kriek or framboise, respectively, a sum greater than the whole of its parts. The sourness and earthy fermentation character of the beer harmonize with the fruit’s native tannins and acid, while its bright aromatics and flavors surf over the evolving tides of funk.

This is starting to sound like a Parliament concept album, but what we’re really embarking on here is a protracted fermentation punctuated by a brew day and a trip to the farmer’s market.

If you have a garden or orchard, or know someone who does, even better.

Collect your fruit at the peak of freshness. If the base beer isn’t ready to be fruited when you buy or pick the berries, wash them and store in Ziplocks in the freezer until it is (we’ll need to do this anyway, in order to rupture the fruit cell walls to maximize color and flavor).

The magnificent thing about these beers is that they’re actually quite simple—malted barley and raw wheat, plus good fruit at its peak, plus time. Let’s get on the mothership.

Find more great recipes in Mashmaker

This framboise is one of 64 original, witty all-grain homebrewing recipes found in Michael Dawson’s quintessential Mashmaker: A Citizen’s Guide to Brewing Great Beer at Home. Purchase an e-book version of Mashmaker today for just $15 and start your homebrewing adventure.

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Note: These steps are general guidelines and assume you’re already familiar with the all-grain brewing process—refer to the instructions for your brew system, and adjust as needed based on experience with your own particular equipment.

Except where noted, the recipes in this book are formulated for 5-gallon (19-liter) all-grain batches, calculated at 75% mash efficiency.

Targets: OG: 1.049, IBU: <10, SRM: 3.0-5.0, ABV: <5.0%

SHOPPING LIST

GRAIN: 

  • 6 lbs. Rahr Pilsner malt
  • 3 lbs. flaked wheat

HOPS:

  • 1 oz. low alpha and/or aged hops

YEAST:

  • An all-in-one liquid blend for lambic-style ales—Wyeast 3278, White Labs 655, or equivalent.

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS:

  •  2.5−3 lbs. fresh raspberries

KEY POINTS FOR KEY PINTS

Other fruit? Maybe raspberries aren’t in season, maybe you hate raspberries, maybe you have peaches, grapes, currants, apricots, or cherries at the ready. Adjust the quantity of fruit used based on the intensity of its flavor, acid, and tannin (for example, you’ll need a lot more peaches than you would currants), cut up big fruit as needed, and freeze before use.

Get low-alpha hops, ideally way past their peak: Brewers of traditional lambic use old hops that have had all aromatics and alpha acids aged out of them. We are not after IBUs, so hit up your LHBS for some old inventory. If that’s not an option, then choose a variety based on lowest AA% (like French Strisselspalt, German Hersbrucker, or Czech Saaz.)

Be patient: The microflora that shape the flavors and aromas of lambic are not on a 21st century schedule. Although the Sacch portion of the fermentation will be over in relatively short order, the acid bacteria and Brett will be slow but thorough and reward patience and non-intervention. Let the beer take a full trip around the sun in primary before adding fruit, then give it a bit longer for flavors to marry before packaging.

BREWING

PREP:

  • Mill the grains, then heat strike water to approximately 168°F.

MASH & SPARGE:

  • Mash rest: Add all grains to strike water, mix to 154−156°F, and rest for 60 minutes.
  • Mashout: Heat it to 170°F for 5 minutes.
  • Sparge and collect wort in boil kettle.

BOIL (60 minutes):

  • T-60: 0.75 oz. aged hops.
  • T-0: Cool the wort, transfer to a sanitized fermentor, aerate well, and pitch yeast.

FERMENTATION AND BEYOND

  • Primary fermentation: 68−70°F for approximately 12−18 months. A few days before racking to secondary, wash and freeze the fruit.
  • Secondary fermentation: Add frozen fruit to a sanitized carboy or bucket, and rack beer in on top of it. Leave beer on fruit for another 1−2 months before packaging.
  • Nota bene: If bottle-conditioning, add a bit of fresh ale yeast along with priming sugar to ensure even carbonation.
  • Serving: Chalice, summer twilight, crickets and/or tree frogs.