Growing up in the Chicago area, it was always the highlight of the summer to go visit my grandparents at their house in northern Wisconsin. When we were younger, my grandpa would take my brother and I down snowmobile and logging trails and look for wild berries. We’d come back with a couple of small buckets and mostly put those berries in our cereal the next few days. While we would also pick some blueberries, the blackberries and raspberries were my favorites. I’ve always felt that blackberries were a bit of an underappreciated fruit, standing in the shadows of the more popular strawberries and cherries. And while raspberries are certainly popular, one of my favorite bites in my cereal would one where I’d get a blackberry and raspberry at once. I always felt they went well together.
Because of my affinity for the blackberry, it was important to me to incorporate blackberries into our future fruit beers instead of relying on the “standard” brewing fruits, such as cherries, raspberries and peaches. I enjoy all those fruits, and have used them all at Joyride at some point, but I was determined that our classic summer fruit beer would have some blackberry in it and just needed to figure out how much.
Back in our homebrewing days, we experimented a bit with brewing some fruit beer. Toward the end of our homebrewing career when the commercial brewery was a reality instead of just a dream, we brewed 10 gallons of Blonde Ale and split it into two 5 gallon carboys. We fruited one with raspberries and the other with blackberries and immediately started playing around with blends. While there were plenty of tasty blends, we ultimately decided that the ideal mix was about 3 parts blackberry, 2 parts raspberry. We’ve kept that percentage fairly constant, with this beer coming in at about 57% blackberry puree vs 43% raspberry puree. We added these purees directly into the fermenters when we were a few degrees Plato above our target terminal gravity. This way we were able to ensure that the yeast was still active and would eat the majority of the fruit sugars to prevent the beer from being too sweet without ripping through them too quickly so that their flavor wouldn’t remain. My main fear in this beer is that it would end up way too cloyingly sweet. I wanted to keep all the fantastic fruit flavors but wanted it to finish dry to maximize it’s sessionability.
The end result is what I was looking for. The berry mix was exactly what I was looking for and the beer finished out at about 1.25 degrees Plato, so it satisfied my desire to keep it dry. It pours an absolutely stunning rich light purple that is super clear. You see this beer get ordered on the other side of the bar and your interest is instantly piqued. It is about as refreshing of a beer as you could ask for and will no doubt be one of our best sellers on hot days.
Black Razz Blonde comes to 5.63% abv, 19 IBU and an SRM of Purple. Purple isn’t a number you say? Well, it is very difficult to determine a number on the SRM scale when you add a significant amount of fruit that changes the color so much. So I’m going with Purple and sticking with it.
We’re going to brew this awesome summer treat one more time after this and are planning on submitting it to the GABF competition, so it should be around for a little while, but come get it while it’s fresh. If you’ve been to Joyride a few times, you already know I have an affinity for puns, so you’ll have to excuse me when I say “It’s berry good!”