Put Your Spin On Spring

Cabin fever is in full swing here in the land of 10,000 lakes. The frenzy of the holidays is nothing more than a distant memory and our days are filled with a silent (OK, maybe not so silent) yearning for warmer days to come. Chocolate milk stout and winter ale may still be appropriate for the snow-covered wasteland we currently inhabit, but deep in our souls we know better. It’s time to brew for spring.

Being a homebrewer has always meant looking ahead. Anyone can grab a random seasonal beer on the way to the first BBQ of the season, but it takes a true, far-sighted homebrewer to anticipate this joyous moment and arrive with something brewed specifically for the occasion.

These are the kind of deep thoughts that have been concerning me of late, when I should have been plugging away at my latest Excel monstrosity. (Sorry, boss.) What will pair perfectly with that first, true BBQ-worthy weekend of spring? Wheat beers are always a hit. A blonde ale, perhaps? Something a little more challenging…A maibock? So many options, and any one of them would be a great first spring beer. But only one of them will be My Spring Beer.

After a consulting my Personal Beverage Oracle, Laura (a.k.a. my infinitely understanding wife), the verdict was in. I would invoke the true spirit of spring with a brew that celebrates life and can be enjoyed by all. An old college favorite inspired by my days in Duluth and many well-spent hours at Fitger’s Brewhouse. An apricot wheat was to be born.

I know what many of you are thinking. “That’s not HOPPY!” You’re right; It’s not.

“Hello, my name is Nick, and I am not a hop head.” Whew…Glad I was able to get that off my chest.

Over the years, I have often heard the question: What’s the best way to add fruit to a beer? My answer is, generally, it depends. Fruit can be added any number of ways, some ways contributing more fruit flavor than others. The most important thing to remember is that this is YOUR BEER, and that is a thing of beauty. You can do anything you like, because it’s yours.

There are two methods I recommend. The first requires the use of a keg system. I of course recommend the Draft Brewer Keg Systems. The second can be done using conventional bottling, but will result in a less sweet or “fruity” finished product.

Method 1: Using a Keg System (Recommended)

1.) Brew the Northern Brewer American Wheat with no modifications to the instructions.
2.) Allow fermentation to complete. Take a hydrometer reading to confirm.
3.) Add one 3 lb can of Vintner’s Harvest Apricot Puree (You can sub a different type of puree here if you like. Remember, it’s your beer.)
4.) Add ¼ tsp of potassium metabisulphite for 5 gallons of beer. This will stop active fermentation & keep the yeast from eating the sugar in your fruit puree.
5.) Add ½ tsp of potassium sorbate per gallon of beer. This will stop fermentation from beginning again.
6.) Allow to stand for 24 hours to ensure fermentation does not begin again.
7.) Transfer into your keg system and carbonate.
8.) Enjoy!

Method 2 Bottling

1.) Brew the Northern Brewer American Wheat with no modifications to the instructions.
2.) Allow fermentation to complete. Take a hydrometer reading to confirm.
3.) Add one 3 lb can of Vintner’s Harvest Apricot Puree (You can sub a different type of puree here if you like.)
4.) Fermentation will begin again. Allow this to complete fully.
5.) Once secondary fermentation has completed and the beer has cleared, follow standard bottling procedure.
6.) Allow bottles to carbonate about 2-3 weeks
7.) Enjoy!

(Note: Using this method will result in a “dryer” finished product as much of the sugar from the puree will be consumed during fermentation. This is why I really recommend using a keg system for fruit additions.)

So what are you waiting for? Spring is right around the corner, and the BBQs will be heating up all across the northland in a matter of weeks. If apricot wheat beer in not your thing, there are plenty of spring seasonals to choose from. My advice is simply this: Take a beer you love, and make it your own.

Remember: Our brewmasters are here to help. And we’ve got plenty of experience putting our own personal spin on right-out-of-the-box recipe kits. When in doubt, just text us at 651-273-9869 for expert tips on how to make your next brew uniquely your own.


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