Homebrew #04 – Strawberry Infusion & Mango Infusion

As makgeolli pushers try to reach a younger, hipper demographic, you see a lot of joomak offering different types of fruit makgeolli. But, it’d be a stretch to call these infusions. They’re more like the caramel macchiato frappuccinos of the makgeolli world: concoctions of market makgeolli blended with ice shavings and fruit (if your lucky) or fruit-flavored syrup (if you’re not). And in the world of commercial brewers, it’s even worse: typically your banana makgeollis and your pumpkin dongdongjus are laced with artificial additives, like delicious aspartame.

Now, I say “typically” because you do find some serious brewers doing infusions. But these bottles are usually infused with more peculiar ingredients: pine needles, mugwort, lotus root, chrysanthemum, and such.

Needless to say, as a homebrewer, I’m thinking, “What if…?” So began my arduous journey to the little corner store right up the street where I picked up a box of strawberries, which happened to be in-season in Korea, and mangos, which are never in-season making them exorbitant. After all, if I were going to try one experiment, why not try two?

Fruit Infusion1B

Bottling Day to Day 4 (left to right, top to bottom)

Not knowing the first thing about infusions, I decided to go with a simple danyangju recipe. The difference here is how and when you add the fruit. The Susubori wunderkind suggest you mash your fruit into a pulp and then freeze it. It may seem counter-intuitive but freezing your fruit will actually bring out the flavor.

From the inimitable Becca Baldwin: “The water inside the fruit will crystallize and expand, which will cause the cell walls to burst. In doing so, the flavor molecules become readily available to your brew. In my experience, I have found that freezing fruit first gives a fresher, more characteristic flavor than using fresh (unfrozen) fruit. Fresh fruit can sometimes make the brew taste musty.”

Then, three to four days before you feel your brew will be done fermenting, defrost the fruit and add it to your fermentation vessel, giving everything a vigorous stir to make sure it is well-integrated. When your brew passes the match test, stops bubbling, etc., you filter it as per usual.

Fruit Infusion2B

Day 6 to Day 9

FINAL THOUGHTS

This being an experiment, I had low expectations for these brews. I had never tried the freezer technique, nor did I have any idea what the fruit ratio should be. So, for totally winging it, I’d have to say that these were (moderate) successes!

In particular, I was really pleased with the Strawberry Infusion. It had a pastel pink appearance that made it look unique but not artificial like some “infused drinks” look. Probably the best part, though, was the fragrance: you could just smell the fresh strawberries coming off the brew. As for the flavor, it was slightly on the tart side despite the sweetening effect that the yeast usually has. Strawberries aren’t particularly sugary to begin with so I had considered something like this might happen. Still, the tartness was far from ruining it and I could imagine some people might actually prefer it that way. I added a dash of honey simple syrup and it was fantastic.

Fruit Infusion3B

Day 9 to Day 12 (Filtering Day)

Taste-wise, the Mango Infusion was a bit tarter. The downside here was that the mango never really appeared in the brew in any sense. The appearance was only very slightly yellowish and the mango scent was next to non-existent. This makes me think I didn’t use enough mango or it’s just not a very good fruit to use for infusions.

This last point brings me to what I would change: If I were to try either of these infusions again, I would up the fruit ratio, say 450 or 500 g for each recipe to see if I could draw those flavors out more. I would also try leaving them in the brew for a shorter time. I worry that the reason both brews were on the sour side was that the nuruk and the yeast devoured all their sugars.

Still, it was a fun experiment—one I might try again after I explore some other recipes.

Fruit Infusion4B

Day 9 to Day 12 (Filtering Day)

 

BREWER’S NOTES
Type: Danyangju
Name: Strawberry Infusion
Time: Made: 3.20.16

Fruit: 3.29.16

Bottled: 4.1.16

Total: 12 days

Measurements: MITSUL

·         1kg chapssal

·         90g nuruk

·         3g yeast

·         1L water

·         350g Strawberries

Amount Produced: ·         2L  (approx.)
Notes: ·         Note to self: Never make everything in one batch and then think you’ll separate into two just by eye-balling it. It’s a lot of extra work and ultimately not precise.

·         Day 1: Always disconcerting to see how dry the brew is at this stage. The grains have sucked up all the water and it seems like the batch will never change into booze.

·         Day 2: Already mushy and cheongju separation at the bottom. The separation is about 1 inch.

·         Day 7: Band of clear separation that has narrowed over the days. Cap is approximately 3 inches, takju is 3 inches, and band of separation is ½ an inch. Chopped up 350g of strawberries and then mashed them into chunky pulp. Put in freezer at 10:30 p.m.

·         Day 9: Added the fruit and tasted the spoon afterward. Surprised to find how sour the brew has become. Not necessarily in a bad way but it was different than previously brews that were sweeter while fermenting.

Results: ·         For my first infusion, I’m really happy with this. The strawberry is present in look, smell, and taste in a very pleasing way.

·         Only caveat is that, despite using yeast, the brew came out quite sour due to the strawberry. More hardcore makgeolli fans might like that. I added a bit of honey simple syrup to my glass right before drinking and it went from a good-good drink to a great-good drink.

·         Also, might try another 100g if I do this again. Although the strawberry is present, it would be nice if it telegraphed more.

TASTING NOTES
appearance nose body flavor finish
Rosy pink, takju settled quickly leaving 95+% of cheongju Strawberry really comes through along with slight booziness and carbonation Light with little particulate noticeably tart strawberry flavor but mild enough to be well balanced with natural mak flavor Crisp, carbonated finish

 

BREWER’S NOTES
Type: Danyangju
Name: Mango Infusion
Time: Made: 3.20.16

Fruit: 3.29.16

Bottled: 4.1.16

Total: 12 days

Measurements: MITSUL

·         1kg chapssal

·         90g nuruk

·         3g yeast

·         1L water

·         240g of mango

Amount Produced: ·         2L (approx.)
Notes: ·         See Strawberry Infusion
Results: ·         This was less of a triumph than the strawberry. I have two thoughts on this. First, I probably needed to use more mango. I had no idea how many grams the fruit would yield but 240g was just not enough to leave a sense of drinking something mango flavored. Again, if I were to do this again 450g might be a good 2nd experiment. Second, mango just might not be a fruit that works well with infusions like this. I’ve heard from others that citrus does poorly and, I don’t know if this is the case, but mango might share some citrus-like characteristics.

·         Despite this, it was a pleasant brew that was made even better with a bit of the honey simple syrup I made.

TASTING NOTES
appearance nose body flavor finish
Chalky yellow, takju settled quickly leaving 95+% of cheongju Any mango that may be there might just be all my imagination See strawberry infusion Something citrusy but not clearly discernible as mango, also tart See strawberry infusion

 

20160402_101620B

 

*Special thanks to Becca Baldwin, Brian Romasky, and Brennand Ceannadach for their help and advice.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Homebrew #04 – Strawberry Infusion & Mango Infusion

  1. Thank you for the exciting experiment and elaborated account.

    In my view, both can be cateorised as Yiyang-Ju. Given the nature of fruit;sugar. Fruits give give augar enough to make 2nd fermentarion as well as flavour infusion, in my view.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Takjoo Journals’ Second Anniversary | takjoo journals

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s