My wife and I did a little night cap comparison recently between my zinfandel oak-aged imperial chocolate cherry stout with New Glarus’s cherry stout. Dan Carey, New Glarus’s owner/brewer is a magician. He makes consistently amazing beers, especially his thumbprint series brews. This cherry stout of his incorporates the same fruit infusion method as does his Wisconsin Belgian Red and Raspberry Tart. I can tell. Now, exactly how he gets fruit into his beers is something he keeps secret, as his fruit beers have won him awards all over the world.
My wife loved New Glarus’s Cherry Stout and so did I. My own choco-cherry stout didn’t really compare (chocolate, roast, oak and zinfandel aren’t in New Glarus’s version). Though I wasn’t shooting to make a normal strength cherry stout, I can say I’m still getting too many tanic notes due to the high fermentation temp I accidentally employed when brewing my version. I’ve got about 1/3 of that batch set aside to age for a year or two under oxygen barrier caps so hopefully it calms down in time.
New Glarus’s Cherry Stout was an absolutely delicious dessert beer and would also be tasty with duck and cranberry sauce. Not too much roast in this stout, mostly caramel. Any food emphasizing fruit and caramelized onions or meats would do well with this. (more…)
Back on 10/23 (16 days after brew day), I took Snot Snout, my imperial chocolate stout, and transferred it to another primary fermenter. Awaiting in that second vessel were six full pounds of pasteurized, pitted and thawed cherries. Just like with my raspberry wheat batch from last spring, I just used the frozen fruit bags you can easily find at the grocery store. Even if cherries were in season and I would have had to freeze and thaw them before adding to the beer. Buying frozen saves me a step in the process.
One issue I had with the raspberries earlier this year was that they got mushed into a sludge when I heated them up to 170* for 15 min. to pasteurize them. In order to prevent that from happening to the cherries, I took the advice of my buddy Dave who said I should put the cherries into a kettle and then drop that kettle into a larger kettle of water, then boil that water. The cherries were able to heat to the proper temperature while generally maintaining their structural integrity. Good suggestion Dave!
To promote further complexity with Snot Snout, a week after dropping the batch on the cherries I took about 1/3rd cup of french oak chips and soaked them in a cup of California Zinfandel for an hour. Then I poured the Zin/oak mix into another fermenter and transferred the batch over to that vessel. As of this posting, the batch has been aging on the oak chips for a week. I’ll probably let it sit there for another two weeks before bottling. That’ll give it five weeks in the bottle prior to the Christmas release date.