Raspberry English Brown Ale

My recent brews have been off-centric, including a Butternut/Hubbard squash ale and a Coconut Porter. This next beer is an English Brown ale with a  secondary fermentation on raspberries. I made two past raspberry beers with good success, Biere a la Framboise d’ ete (raspberry summer beer) and Raspberry Dubbel Trouble. The dubbel was one of the earliest brews that I made and remember the beer being very fruity for a Belgian ale (no fermentation control) and one-dimensional with too much raspberry. The raspberry summer beer was brewed for my wedding in 2010 and was a blend between a Belgian Wit and a Blond Ale. This beer was better as the raspberry was complex and subtle with the pilsner malt clearly coming through.


This time I tried a different base beer, an English Brown ale. Malts, hops, and yeast are strictly British, and I only used two pounds of raspberries. Like my previous brews I bought fresh raspberries and froze them to break apart the fruit. I’ve never found contamination from the fruit to be a problem  as the high pitching rate, alcohol, and anti-microbial properties of the hops limit microbial growth. I did not rack the beer to secondary, but added the fruit after three weeks in primary. It then spent another two weeks re-fermenting.

Recipe (6 gallons):

  • 12 pounds of Maris Otter Pale Malt (Thomas Fawcett)
  • 1/2 pound of Crystal 20
  • 1/2 pound of Crystal 60
  • 1/2 pound of Crystal 120
  • 1/2 pound of Chocolate Malt (Thomas Fawcett)

Mashed in with 1.3 qts of water per pound of malt at 158F and it went down to 152F after 30 minutes (target mash was 154F). Reheated to 158F and did not touch the mash until mash out. Raised temp to 168F and vorlaufed as usual. Did not check the first runnings. Sparged with 5.06 gallons of and collected 7.65 gallons of 1.054 wort and heated to 190F to pasteurize and left overnight. Boiled for 60 minutes:

  • 2 ounces of Challenger (7.5% AA) at 60 minutes.
  • 1 whirlfloc tablet and yeast nutrient at 20 minutes.

Cooled wort to 65F and pitched a one liter starter of WYeast 1335 (British Ale II).


Appearance: Pours a ruddy brown with a two finger head that dissipates to a thin lace that clings to the glass. Slight ruby highlights, but nothing compared to the previous beer which was a wit. Crystal clear with no visible yeast in suspension.


Smell: Raspberries in the nose, but not as fresh I would expect. Somewhat synthetic and muted, not freshly ripened fruit. Malt is nonexistent, but the yeast makes it presence known with some fruity esters of pear and strawberry.

Taste: Similar to the nose, the raspberry is one-dimensional. The flavor reminds of raspberry flavored candy, or raspberry flavoring as opposed to picked raspberries. Malt carries through nicely with toffee, biscuit, and toasted bread. Yeast flavors are also there but manifest as slight bubble gum. Mouthfeel and carbonation is medium.

Overall: Good but not great. The key difference between this beer and past brews was the selected raspberries. For the blended wit/blond ale, I grabbed local organic raspberries from a farmers market that were ripe. For this beer I bought run of the mill raspberries from my local supermarket. The beer actually reminds me of Sam Smith’s Organic Raspberry Ale, which I’m not a fan. The raspberry flavor itself  is not that dominant and tastes as if someone poured raspberry syrup in my beer. For the future I might try a different base beer and go back to local organic fruit.


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7 responses to “Raspberry English Brown Ale

  1. Does freezing the fruit also help prevent infection? Can spoilage microbes easily survive freezing temperatures?

    • If they didn’t survive, you wouldn’t have to cook food that had been frozen. Its certainly not good for them, but it doesn’t knock their numbers down nearly enough. Its really just the pH and alcohol levels which brewer’s yeast can tolerate and other things not so much. Hops help a bit, too, by coating their cell walls and starving them.
      – Dennis, Life Fermented Blog

      • Good points Dennis. Also, I’m not sure if I’m interpreting this correctly but you don’t have to cook the fruit before pitch it. As you mentioned, pH and EtOH would be enough to stop spoilage organisms. Cooking the fruit would release pectins and cause hazing issues in the beer.


      • Right you are. My above comment was a bit ambiguous- cooking the fruit is generally a bad idea. It’s actually a pretty amazing feature of brewers yeast that they can tolerate such conditions considering most other single-cellers can’t tolerate anything above a small fraction of a percent of alcohol.

    • Yes, spoilage organisms can survive freezing temps, especially if they are spore form. I’m sure it helps a bit.

      It’s important to know that beer itself (post-fermentation) is quite antispeptic with the alcohol and anti-microbial compounds from hops.

      I’ve brewed three raspberry beers now – never a problem with contamination.


  2. Matt Houser

    Last night I drank the second of two bottles of Raspberry ESB that you gave me in October. Absolutely fantastic. A well-balanced, yet assertive raspberry flavor. The fruit was obvious but did not detract from the beer as it does in so many fruit beers. Nicely done!

    • Matt!!

      Good to hear from you and glad you liked the beer! I just recently drank the last bottle of this beer and it gets better with a bit of age on it.

      How have you been? I will send you an email soon.


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