Chris Kwietniowski’s Fruitcake RIS

Editors note: this is a post Chris shared on our forum detailing the brew that won him the True Brewer 2019 title. We thought it so was good (the post and the beer) that we turned it into this blog article. We also formatted and uploaded Chris’ recipe into our recipe database here.

I brewed this April 18th 2018, as a partigyle brew along with a porter. For the porter I added a minimash to help improve it and boost the gravity. I also split the batch and only fruitcaked half of it.

OG 1.090, FG 1.022 (measured on the beer after 8 days… this likely lower for the fruit batch), IBU 80

14# 2-row

2# Simpsons Amber malt

1.25# Weyermann Carafa Special I

1.25# Simpsons Roasted Barley

1# Simpsons Crystal Light (40 – 45L I think?)

1# Weyermann Special W

100 g fancy molasses at flameout (~ 1/3 cup)

Admittedly it is more malts than I like to use in a recipe. The previous iteration was with maris otter instead of 2-row + amber. I think that is better, but it costs more hah. Also it was 2.5# roasted barley before, but I wanted to soften up the roasty bite a bit and make it more chocolatey so I replaced half of it with the carafa.

Hops: Magnum added at FWH to reach 80 IBU (*Calculate it for yourself… I only boiled 30 minutes 😛 )

Yeast: Escarpment Cal Ale. This was an entire yeast cake from an Irish red I kegged 3 weeks prior. I used a swamp chiller, about 16°C before warming at the end (20°C). I used 2 glass carboys for tons of headspace.  For aeration I put in a solid stopper and shook it at 0, 4 and 8 hours with just tin foil over top in between (switched to airlock after 1 day).

Water: Nothing special. Cambridge water with pinch of sodium metabisulfite to get rid of chloramine.

Process:  Mash low so it attenuates well. Pre-boil gravity 1.080. Eventually I bottle conditioned it and then left it alone for a long time.

Fruit/Spice: After 8 days the beer was basically fermented out. To roughly 10L I added 240g dried tart montmorency cherries and 260 g thompson raisins. I used a food processor with just enough water to make a slurry. I heated that to 75°C, cooled and added. I also soaked a stick of toasted charred white oak the size of my thumb in some old dark rum for 2 weeks, along with about 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon and added the whole mess after the fruits finished fermenting. I am unsure how long it sat on the wood/fruit, but definitely in the weeks. I always procrastinate bottling.

There were other spices added, but this was totally by taste. I had previously made a mix to make plain rum into spiced rum by soaking spices in 50% alcohol. I took a sample of the beer before bottling and added this spice tincture until I liked the taste, then dosed the whole batch accordingly. I am certain there was cinnamon, clove, ginger, black pepper, allspice and orange peel. Likely nutmeg. This kind of a thing can be tedious and hard to replicate, but I am plenty happy with following my nose and assuming that in the future it’ll lead me back. Or make something even better.

Some beer math- adding dried fruits is basically the same as pouring in a bag of white sugar. They’re generally 75 – 80% sugar. My math on this, in round numbers/with assumptions:

500 g dried fruit * 0.75 = 375 g sugar added

375 g sugar in 10L = 3.75°P

Convert to specific gravity:

3.75 * 4 = 15. Therefore my gravity of 1.090 becomes 1.105! (This ignores that I added a little water in the blender… )

Mike H (right, 2018 True Brewer) passing the torch… er Mash Paddle of Destiny to Chris K (left, 2019 True Brewer) at our Feb 2020 meeting while Justin A (background, 2017 True Brewer) leers in the background