Working with Fruits in BeerSmith 3

by Brad Smith on September 19, 2021 · 1 comment

This week I cover some of the basic concepts of using fruit in BeerSmith for making beer, wine, cider or meads.

Fruit Basics

BeerSmith 3 supports the use of fruit juice, purees, honey and whole fruits natively when making beer, mead, wine and cider recipes. Typically most fruits are added during primary or secondary fermentation. Keep in mind that adding fruit to a beer will often lower your final gravity because fruit consists of highly fermentable sugars which will ferment to alcohol which has a final gravity below 1.000. So adding fruit often lowers rather than increases the final gravity.

There are a number of practical considerations when working with fruit I won’t attempt to cover in detail here, but here are some tips. Fruit juice and honey is generally the easiest to work with as they may be added directly to the primary or secondary fermenter. For juice, you want to pick brands that are pasteurized but have no preservatives as many preservatives can inhibit fermentation.

Whole fruit and purees are more difficult to work with because it can be difficult to separate the fruit from the beverage when fermentation is complete. For whole fruit I will often wash and freeze the fruit first which helps open up the cellular structure, and then thaw and crush or dice it before adding to the fermenter. I also prefer to use a grain bag with the fruit to make it easier to separate the fruit. I often bag purees and wine bases as well though some purees are thin enough to escape the bag.

Fruits, Honey and Juice in BeerSmith

Starting with BeerSmith 3 and BeerSmith Web, the program now natively supports honey, juice and fruits as fermentable types. A number of these are included with the default BeerSmith 3 (or higher) programs, and you can access additional fruit, honey, cider and wine ingredients from the Add-on button on the desktop or the “Manage Preloaded” button on the new web version of BeerSmith. Both of these can be found from Ingredients->Fermentables view.

While the preloaded ingredients are a good place to start, you often will need to adjust the sugar content of the specific juice of fruit you are working with. This is easy to do if you have a hydrometer available. Simply pour out a small sample of the fruit juice (or crush a bit of fruit into a puree) and then use the hydrometer to measure the gravity. If your hydrometer has a Brix scale you can use the Brix reading directly in BeerSmith by double clicking on the juice or fruit ingredient and entering the Brix value you measured with the hydrometer.

If your hydrometer does not have a Brix scale you can use the Plato scale as the degrees Plato and Brix match to within a tiny fraction of 1%. Alternately you can enter the specific gravity measured instead. Both the Sugar Content in Brix/plato and the Specific Gravity readings can be found under the Yield/Sugar Content heading for any fermentable where you have the type set to fruit. For honey, most honey has a brix reading of around 82% sugar which corresponds to a specific gravity of 1.440.

While editing the fruit ingredient, you can also specify the use. I typically will add fruit most often as part of the primary fermentation, though some brewers prefer to add it in the secondary to maximize fruit aroma.

Fruit and Juice Colors

The other item to consider modifying when working with fruit or juice is the color. The color of many items is set to zero by default simply because fruit and juice comes in a wide variety of colors and many of these colors are not the typical brown/blonde variants we see from beer malt. You can choose to estimate the color of the item itself or simply estimate the color of the beer without the fruit first and then mentally estimate how much it might change with a fruit addition.

Custom Fruit and Juices

You can of course create your own custom fruit, juice and honey entries. To do so go to Ingredients->Fermentables and click on the add button. Choose the correct type (fruit, juice, honey) which will hide the fields not relevant to your selection. At this point you need to enter the sugar content and color estimate plus any notes.

How Fruit Affects your Recipe

Adding fruit, juice or honey to the primary will change your original gravity and estimated final gravity, so it is perhaps easiest to determine the effect of fruit by adding it up front. Fruit added in the secondary won’t affect the original gravity (OG) estimate because OG is defined as the gravity before fermentation. This can throw off the estimated alcohol percentage estimate which is done based on OG and final gravity. As I mentioned earlier the fruit added in the secondary won’t significantly raise your final gravity either as fruit is primarily simple sugars that rapidly ferment to alcohol and the net change in FG is often close to zero. They will add substantial alcohol in either case which will thin the beer out overall. This is something you need to consider when designing a beer with fruit.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s article from the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Please subscribe for regular weekly delivery, and don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send this article to a friend.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Lucas Silvestre Cordeiro October 6, 2021 at 1:43 pm

Hello, I have a question. For instance, if I have 20 L of a 10ºBr wort and I pour in primary fermentation 5L of a 5ºBr juice/fruit, my OG would be lower than 10ºBr, but for some reason the software says that it would be higher, I think it doesn’t consider the volume of the fruit itself, and consider it like a grain, am I right? Or are there other things to consider?
Thanks, Lucas.

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