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05/06/10 10:05 PM  
Tart cherries - seeking input
AlB and I spent some time tonight at the grocery store, looking for unsweetened dried tart cherries or juice concentrate for beery applications. Ended up buying a bunch of cans of Oregon red tart unsw. cherries - in water.

Just now I found several internet sources of concentrate and dried (unsweetened) tart cherries: Traverse Bay, Eden, King Orchards. Most specify Montmorency.

Anyone ever use these? Any recommended brands?

tom sawyer
05/07/10 08:04 AM  
Re: Tart cherries - seeking input
I've only used Oregon products, they've done well for me. There were two cans of puree in my kriek kit. I think your cherries in water should work great. Are they pitted?

Honestly, I've recently tasted gueuze and my opinion is that the cherries don't change the flavor of the beer all that much if you let them ferment out all the way. It does change the color.

05/07/10 08:42 AM  
Re: Tart cherries - seeking input
I have not used dried/puree, but I have used Montmorency cherries in a kriek and really like them. I added about 2lbs per gallon in two separate doses (ie 1lb/gallon twice) one early to ferment all the way out and one later to hopefully leave some cherry flavor. Mine were picked fresh and then frozen (door county, Wisconsin) and added whole with the pits.

I really like the way these work whole, so I tend to brew around getting the fruit - I have 10 gallons waiting for this year's harvest later this summer. I just have to remember to leave enough headspace as the fermentation was quite vigorous when I added in the cherries.

05/07/10 10:48 AM  
Re: Tart cherries - seeking input
I had a cherry saison by Longmont brewery in Longmont CO.

It was so over the top cherry I could not believe the intensity. I contacted the brewer and he informed me that

the flavor was derived from fruit he gets delivered from

SYSCO (wholesale supplier) Tart Cherries in water. He said

they come in plastic buckets @ 30#. He adds a gallon of

the liquid and 2 cups sugar along with the fruit. NICE.

You may try to hook up with a commercial resaturant supply

like Sysco...

05/07/10 11:23 AM  
Re: Tart cherries - seeking input
I've used tart/montmorency cherry concentrate many, many times. Mostly in sac cherry beers or beers with sac and lacto only. For some reason, I only used the real fruit in conjunction with brett. Probably cuz I like seeing the fruit float and get eaten up in the long term storage. But I think the concentrates work well.

I've noticed slight taste differences from brand to brand. Don't remember the name, but the brand that I get at the local health food store is much darker in color than the brands I've ordered over the internet. It says its 100% montmorency cherries, but like I said its darker and has more of a black cherry flavor to it. I liked the internet brands better, but that's just personal preference and quality wise they were all good.

tom sawyer
05/07/10 11:32 AM  
Re: Tart cherries - seeking input
I have a North Star cherry tree that bears pretty well, this year I'm going to use them in a kriek. Its a very nice tree, dwarf and self-pollinating. I think I got a crop in the tree's third year.

I read that 95% of the tart cherries sold in the US are Montmorency.

05/07/10 02:16 PM  
Re: Tart cherries - seeking input
I have 11 gallons of sour beer in 3 batches (5+5+1) which are ~1.5 years old or so... I was planning on blending/bottling/cherry-ing in some manner this early summer when tart pie cherries are in harvest at the local orchard here.

Is 2#/gallon a good quanitity to shoot for? And head space - if I just pick them whole, freeze, stuff in carboys and rack on top, it really takes off huh? Will I want to rack over a lot of the gunk in the bottom of the primary? I don't know yet how much pLambic I will be adding to cherries, my first priority is to get the best non-fruit blend, and then put the rest on cherries. In the 5G primary glass carboy the ferment seemed to blow off until the liquid was down to where the surface area is about max - everything in the top-portion/neck was gone. Is that enough headspace to leave?

05/07/10 06:53 PM  
Re: Tart cherries - seeking input
New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red is a great commercial example of a beer that highlights Montmorency cherries.
05/07/10 09:11 PM  
Re: Tart cherries - seeking input
i had a ng belgian red for the first time at gabf last year. goddamn that was awesome. dont think ive had anything like it. wish i could get ng beers here!
tom sawyer
05/08/10 08:05 AM  
Re: Tart cherries - seeking input
Is the NG Belgian Red a wild beer? Can the bugs be cultured or is it pasteurized? I'm thinking of scheduling a trip to the New Glarus brewery this summer. They don't seel in this area, although I have heard they do in IA which isn't too far away.
05/08/10 09:22 AM  
Re: Tart cherries - seeking input
The last two batches (pale blond and strong brown/bruin) of 100% brett (C. and L. WY) I brewed I split with half going into kegs plain and other halves getting sour cherries (picked and frozen from last summer, pits and all) and oak.

The pale version is now very sour with the oak fading to the back but adding complexity. The bruin will be sitting on the sour cherries at least until the Thanksgving/X-mas holiday season. I used 2# gallon in each batch. Next time I do this I would blend in some dark sweet cherries along with the sour ones to gain more cherry notes instead of straight sour/tartness I am getting from the sour cherries. I really think with fruit that one can never really add too much...kind of like dry hopping for an IPA/DIPA!

05/08/10 09:44 AM  
Re: Tart cherries - seeking input
Al's done a few brews with sour cherries we've picked or bought. There's a farm near us that offers pick-your-own in June but the window of picking time is so brief (and freezer space at a premium in our house), we were looking for other sources of sour cherry flavor.

TomS - yes, they're pitted. With fresh, we've pitted or not pitted, depending on the end use (brewing, baking, sorbet) and level of motivation.

1vertical - thanks for the restaurant supply tip - I'll check it out!

Thanks for all the great input!

05/10/10 05:48 PM  
Re: Tart cherries - seeking input
TomS- the NG stuff is pasteurized, unfortunately. They supposedly do aat least a certain amount of spontaneous fermentation in the cherry & raspberry beers they produce, but both are very clean tasting (almost no funk, but tons of fruit flavor and a small amount of sourness.)

If you're looking to visit NG, be warned that the tour is "self-guided." I've never driven over there, but others in the area said they enjoyed tours at some of the other southern WI breweries more. That said, if you can't get their beers near you, it's probably still worth the trip to check it out. (Sorry for the brief hijack, Nina. . .)

Do any of you know if any of the internet sour-cherry suppliers offer them *with* pits? We're looking to put a Montmorency tree in, but it'd still be a few years before getting any fruit yield from it.

05/10/10 06:49 PM  
Re: Tart cherries - seeking input
Jaymo Said

<<Do any of you know if any of the internet sour-cherry suppliers offer them *with* pits? We're looking to put a Montmorency tree in, but it'd still be a few years before getting any fruit yield from it.>>

When wanting some cherry pit character to a beer I have taken to adding mahleb, which is a "spice" from middle-eastern markets that is made from the seeds of the St Lucie Cherry, the flavour being similar to a combination of bitter almond and cherry.

05/10/10 09:47 PM  
Re: Tart cherries - seeking input
I never thought of mahleb. Actually have some in the spice cabinet. Can be a little strong - how much do you add Sebastian? Do you use ground or whole?
05/11/10 11:32 AM  
Re: Mahleb
.5 to 2 oz of Mahleb, depending on the noticeability you want, seems to do the trick nicely. I always grind it up before using.

I have found the intensity can vary quite a bit (probably due to the vagaries of the age of the stock at the local market), so some experimentation is in order.

I have only ever used it in Meads and Sours, where I had lots of time to get the intensity right. I suppose a vodka extract might be a more precise way of dialing it in.

05/11/10 01:58 PM  
Re: Tart cherries - seeking input
I just added 1/2 # of Mahleb to a 50 liter batch ....

and 5 gallons of tart cherries...It will be some time

before I know what the result is...but I waded right on in.

I figured that 5 gallons of cherries might just contain

that much pit material...

Rob B
05/11/10 04:30 PM  
Re: Tart cherries - seeking input
I have used the King Orchard brand in a couple brews/meads. I have used both the concentrate and the cherries in water. The concentrate worked well in a melomel I did...ended up dry and very red wine-like. As for the canned montmonrencies, I just drained the water and pitched the cherries in a BDSA aged with brett...nice subtle cherry flavor in the background as I wanted.
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