Cherry Cheesecake Cream Ale

Cherry Cheesecake Cream Ale

It feels good to be writing about beer again. I've been busy writing about it for others like Food Bloggers of Canada, which has left me, unfortunately, unable to write for my site! Not that I'm complaining at all, it's just the reality of the game. Anyway, Y'all know how much I love beer, and how much I love homebrewing, so I'm excited to be back with a brew I developed for this past year's Christmas beer, Cherry Cheesecake Cream Ale. 

There are no rules when it comes to brewing beer. If you can think it, you can brew it. Of course, learning and brewing great beers that fall into their proper styles is important, but no one is restricting your creative abilities. There is a risk, however, of letting your creativity dictate your recipes; the end product can be less exciting than you expected from your genius idea. One of the most important lessons you'll learn early on is that it's hard to make bad beer. That's good news! But you’ll also learn it's really hard to make great beer and that's bad news. Don't fret, though. It's easy to make mediocre beers. That might sound pretty disheartening, but it shouldn't. Your not-perfect-but-definitely-drinkable beers are still better than drinking one of the big brewers. Further, having these kinds of beers helps you to be self-critical and learn; forcing you to examine it and figure out what went wrong. This Cherry Cheese Cake Cream Ale didn't turn out the way I wanted it to, but my friends were happy to receive and consume their presents. But, maybe, it was because I made them beer? 

The inspiration for this recipe came from my very popular summer brew, Creamsicle Cream Ale, and my favourite dessert my Grandma used to make. I felt confident that if I could turn a dessert like a Creamsicle into a delicious brew, I could surely make Cherry Cheese Cake into one! I was wrong. Instead of producing a sweet cream ale that reminded me of my grandma's house, I produced a sour cherry beer that made you pucker. It wasn't a bad beer, it was just, not what I was aiming for. So where did I go wrong? I'm going to breakdown the recipe and see if I can figure it out. Hold on to your ball locks; this recipe is getting an overhaul! 

Cherry Cheesecake Cream Ale

Grain Bill: 
Canadian 2 Row Brewers Malt, 9lbs
Caramel Malt 20L, 2oz.
Yellow Corn, Flaked, 1lb
Oats, Flaked, 4oz. 

I don't think I did anything wrong here. I wanted to have an ABV of 4.5%, and I achieved that.  I choose the 2 row for my base for a generic malt flavour, Caramel Malt for a little colour and a little caramel flavour, oats for a little creamy mouth feel, and corn for the hell of it. I was hoping to get the graham cracker crust flavour from my grain bill; I was mildly successful? I don't know, maybe next time I'll just add graham crackers to it? Hell, people are making beer out of toast these days, why shouldn't I?

Hop Additions:
Sorachi Ace 10%Alpha
0.5 oz 60 min Boil
0.5 oz 5 min Boil

For my hops, I went with Sorachi Ace because of its lemony-citrusy flavour. I only added one once because this hop adds a lot of bitterness and, to be honest, I wanted as little hop taste as possible. I was going after cherry cheesecake, not Sapporo(Sorachi Ace was the hop variety used in Sapporo for the longest time, they now use a modern hybrid, but I don't know what it's called). Finally, I was also going after a more malt forward beer than hoppy. This amount gave the right amount of bitterness I was looking for. Before I put the beer into secondary, it tasted great. I'll probably make it again without the additions.  

Yeast:
Saflager S-23 Lager Yeast

Traditionally cream ales use a lager yeast strain and fermented at ale temperatures. I did that because of tradition. The yeast performed as expected. Delicious! 

Additions: 
1kg Cherries
1.5 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract

I went wrong here. Man, if I could take it all back(cue Judah and the Lion cause it's my current jam) I would. I rushed getting my ingredients, and I settled on cheaper options than I should have. I picked sour cherries instead of a sweeter variety; big mistake. Sour cherries would have been the right ones to use if I were making a cherry topping for cherry cheesecake. In beer? Wrong! Ya gotta use a sweet variety so it would impart its cherriness but not it's sweetness.  Now, this is what I'm talking about making an ok beer. This beer was a delicious sour beer, not a smooth cream ale. Sigh. If I had just used the right kind of cherries, I probably would have nailed my desired taste profile! Finally, I settled for a cheaper vanilla extract, instead of purchasing something I knew would have better flavour. But, this was a secondary issue compared to my fruit choice blunder. So that's what I did wrong. I regret all my poor life decisions, and I want to take them all back because drinking this beer reminds me of ALL OF THEM. Kidding.  

P.S. save those cherries and made bread out of them! Here's a recipe I developed doing just that! Cherry Cheesecake Cream Ale Bread

Cherry Cheesecake Cream Ale

Cherry Cheesecake Cream Ale

Ingredients:
Grain Bill:

Canadian 2 Row Brewers Malt, 9lbs
Caramel Malt 20L, 2oz.
Yellow Corn, Flaked, 1lb
Oats, Flaked, 4oz. 

Hop Additions: 
Sorachi Ace 10%Alpha
0.5 oz 60 min Boil
0.5 oz 5 min Boil

Yeast:
Saflager S-23 Lager Yeast

Additions: 
1kg of Cherries
1.5 tablespoons of Vanilla Extract
3/4 Cup Priming Sugar (if bottling)

Directions: 
Heat 3.281 gallons of water to 173.F. Add grains to mash tun and pour in heated water, mix well, making sure that there are no lumps of grain. Mash for 1 hour. Heat another 4.834 gallons of water to 179.F for your sparge water. Start to sparge. Once you have collected all your wort begin the boiling process (1 Hour total); Once your wort is boiling add 0.5oz of Sorachi Ace hops into the boil for 60 minutes. At the 5 minute mark of the boil add the other 0.5oz of Sorachi Ace Hops. Stop the boil and cool the wort as fast as humanly possible. 

Once the wort has cooled to 65F, rack into a fermentation chamber and pitch yeast. Let ferment for two weeks. Or until you’ve reached an Alcohol By Volume (ABV) of 4.6%. 

Rack into secondary and add in the Cherries. Let ferment for another one week. 

Once secondary fermentation is finished add in vanilla extract and keg or bottle. Serve when desired carbonation has been reached. 

Bottling Directions:
In a sanitized bottling bucket add ¾ cup of priming sugar (dextrose). Rack beer in bucket and with a sanitized stainless steel spoon stir to mix in sugar. Begin bottling. Use an empty pop bottle to use as your tester to know when the beer has properly carbonated. Once the bottle has reached the same firmness as an unopened pop bottle the beer is ready. Refrigerate and age for 21 days or enjoy as soon as it’s cold!