Monday, November 1, 2010

Adding Fruit: Figs and Dates

 My Belgium Dubbel turned out pretty well, at least for my first time brewing this style. However it is a bit high on the banana ester. I think with the WLP 500 Chimay yeast you get this flavor when you ferment in the low 60s. It is not over powering but more than I like in a Dubbel. For me, a good Dubbel is a complex malt lover's dream. I like to taste a bit of biscuit, a touch of toast, a hint of chocolate and a pretty good dose of dried dark fruits. And this beer did not have enough of that complex malt profile. I thought for this batch I might as well experiment with adding some fruit to boost those flavors.
Convenitely a follow QUAFF member was offering fresh figs from his tree. So I traded a few homebrews for a few lbs of very ripe figs. I am not sure the type of fig (so if you know from the pictures please leave me a comment) but they tasted great. I divided them up into smaller quantities to be used in future batches (any ideas?). It is a pretty strong flavor so I figured that .5 lb in 2.5 gals should help build up that dried fruit flavor.
I was also at the produce store and saw some delicious dates so I thought those would round out the complexity. Another .5 lb of dates should work.I put all the fruit in a bag and froze and re-froze it a few times to really break down the fruit. And then it was easy to mash up while still in the bag. Next thing was to cook up this mush and bring out the dried, caramelized flavors. I added a few cups of water and then let the mixture simmer for a few hours on low until the smell was just right. The whole house smelled like fresh baked Fig Newtons. I put the lid on the pan and let it cool in the sink. And simply poured the fig/date paste into the corny keg. I'll check the pressure on the keg over the next week but this should also prove as a nice way to carb up the beer.

Side Note:
I also dried some in the oven on the lowest setting (mine 170F) in convection mode. They were pretty dry in 10-12 hours. Next time I will save the gas and wait for a hot day and have sun dried figs.(I forgot to take a final pic, just imagine more wrinkles)

 1/21/11 Update
Dubbel with Black Mission Figs and Dates Tasting


  1. look like black mission figs to me, but I'm an east coaster, so my knowledge is limited to what we see shipped over to us.

    also looks like they had a nice healthy dusting of yeast on their didn't try to start up a culture from them, did you?

  2. I looked up Black Mission Figs and I think you're right.
    The figs did have a nice cropping of yeast on them. I actually have been out collecting quite a bit this past summer and fall. I have tried a few starters with wild grapes and some other berries. None of them turned out very well.
    I think the trick is like what you did and bring vials out to the field. Because I have too much handling and that contaminates the good cultures.
    I will hopefully get a setup more like yours so I can just keep a few sterile vials in my pack when I go out.

  3. the jury is still out on the flavor profiles on the mixed cultures, but I just bottled up some, so I should know in ~3-4 weeks. technique is quite important (samples need to go mostly anaerobic sooner vs. later), as is a heaping portion of luck, I'm guessing. preparing small vials to take in to the field is the way to go, but handling of the cultures after innoculation is probably equally important.


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