Friday, May 25, 2007

Raspberry Puree

As the weather warms, requests for Raspberry Hefewiezen begin to pepper the bartenders.

Now, to their relief, and our customers, they can respond with a cool pint of Raz Hefe.

The Raz stands out in the Schlafly lineup, not only for its light tart note and its raspberry hue, but as the only fruit beer brewed by Schlafly.

As beers go, it's a straightforward affair. Not overly complex, but the addition of fruit contributes new layers to the beer.

The Raspberry Hefeweizen begins its life similar to the Schlafly Hefeweizen. Schlafly's Hefeveizen is a light, unfiltered wheat ale based on traditional german-style wheat ales, but fermented with our house ale yeast that minimizes the banana and clove character that are a signature of the traditional style. The result is a light-bodied beer drier than its forbearers with a wheat malt finish.

Apart from the tart and sweetness of the raspberry, malt is a dominant flavor character of the Raspberry Hefeweizen. The malt base comes from a mix of 2-row pale malt and wheat malt.

Hops are not a major player in wheat ales, but are added to balance the malt. A dose of Polish marynka hops are added for flavor and a few tettnanger just before the end of boil for aroma.

The signature of the Raz Hefe is the red raspberry puree which is added directly into the fermenter before the wort is pumped in from the kettle. The puree, supplied by family-owned Oregon Fruit Products and made from berries grown in Northwestern Oregon, adds flavor, color and even a bit of additional sugar to the beer.

Though the puree gives up a bit of its own sugar it does little to budge the beer's 9.7° Plato (approximately 1.039 for you specific gravity folks) starting gravity, which is a measure of relative level of sugar in the wort.

Fermentation takes a two to three days depending on the yeast's performance. The yeast converts the sugars in the wort into carbon dioxide (CO2, which is vented from the tank) and alcohol. Upon reaching he target gravity of 2.7° Plato, the tank's vent is closed, trapping some of the the CO2 which provides a base level of carbonation and an approximate ABV of 3.9%.

Before bottling or kegging, we rough-filter the Raspberry to reduce, but not eliminate, its yeast content. While it is an unfiltered beer we don't want the yeast to play as great a role as it does in the Hefeweizen.

The Raspberry Hefewiezen (or Raz) is available at the Schlafly Bottleworks, the Schlafly Taproom and stores throughout our distribution area. Raspberry Hef has been available on draft since 1994 and in bottles since 2004.
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