Swede Cream Ale (Swedish turnip, Rutabaga, Neeps)

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sifty

Landlord.
Joined
Mar 28, 2021
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Location
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So here in Southern NZ we grow a lot of swede as stock food. In winter farmers will let sheep into the swede paddock to graze on the leafy tops and chew out the hard yellow root. They sweeten up after a decent frost, and as a kid I liked plucking one from a paddock and eating it raw, cutting slices with a pocketknife. I also enjoy it cooked, mashed with butter, seasoned and served alongside mashed spuds with a meal. Always looking for a local twist on beer, I thought I’d try adding some swede to a brew. As it is quite a delicate, earthy flavour, I thought a cream ale might be worth a crack, as a crisp, dry beer might suit the addition of such a veg?

Recipe was a compilation of recipes I found online, pilsner and pale ale malt base with a little flaked corn and the swede added late in the mash, using a simple clean yeast and gently hopped according to style. For a 23 litre batch I came up with:

Pilsner 2600g 58%
Pale ale 1450g 32%
Flaked corn 400g 9%
3.7kg swede cubed, boiled, mashed and added with boil liquor to the mash
Oat hulls 200g to aid circulation

Centennial (14 IBU @ 60 mins) and Hallertau Mittelfrueh (4 IBU @ 15)
US-05 dry yeast (2 pkts)

Looking at nutritional info, seems the swede will add ~ 166g sugar, made up of sucrose, fructose and glucose. Putting that into the recipe I get:

OG 1.046, FG 1.008, ABV = 5.0%
18 IBU, 8.5 EBC

So a simple enough recipe, with a 75 min boil. I honestly don’t know if this will add anything, maybe some slight colour as the boiled swede goes a light orange colour? I also debated the addition of flaked corn, as other recipes just stated to add table sugar to dry things out a bit. We’ll see what happens. Worst case will be a muddy looking but drinkable beer hopefully.

Also complicated by the fact I’ve never made (or even tasted) a cream ale before, so no idea what to expect, apart from a little more flavour than American lagers…? 🤔
 
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Brewed this over the weekend, went okay but had its challenges...

Was a cool but sunny autumn day, water temp was 11 degs. Weighed and milled grain while water was heating. Chopped swede while mashing and put it on to boil, had 2 large frost sweetened ones from local market. Mash was really simple before I added the swede, was flowing well, running a nice clear colour and numbers were good...
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I was going to mash it, but ended up using a soup wand to make a slurry that I added with 20 mins to go in the mash. It was quite thick so I added oat hulls at the same time to aid circulation, even so I had to do a LOT of stirring as it resisted flow through the kettle pretty well...
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Interestingly the gravity dropped after the addition, but probably not surprising given the volume of material. It started flowing better towards the end of the mash, but there was a lot of vegetable matter obvious after sparging (which took about an hr). The colour changed to a cloudy yellow, I collected 29 litres ok, had an uneventful boil and FG was a respectable 1.054, higher than predicted...
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Pitched 2 pkts rehydrated US-05 as I pumped into fermenter and in brew fridge at 20 degs. It cleared a bit which was pleasing, and I gave the spent grain to our fat lamb, who seemed to enjoy it... 😊
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So now we wait. The s/s fermenter is my spare one, the clear fermzilla is being used which is a shame as I'd like to see what's happening, and I'm not getting great feedback from the iSpindel on progress (assume because s/s fermenter inside metal fridge) but it's bubbling away well. Plan is to cold crash, fine with gelatin and bottle, batch carbonated to 2.50 CO2 level.
There was a noticable swede flavour on taste testing, not unpleasant but unsure if this will survive fermentation/fining/bottling.
I'll update on progress as we go...
 
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Fermentation done and cold crashing now. I took a sample before adding gelatin and was pleasantly surprised with the clarity. FG is 1.010 so with OG of 1.055 that comes out at a hefty 5.9% ABV, well above the predicted 4.9%. Seems there is more sugar in swedes than I thought... 😀
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Unfortunately it's in the s/s fermenter so cannot see what volume of solids have dropped out, which will make estimating bottling volume a bit difficult (23 litres went into fermenter). Taste wise it's not bad, nothing offensive but also nothing really distinctive. Should be an OK beer hopefully...
 
Had a similar experience using potatoes in about the same proportions as your neeps. It was the very devil's job to sparge as I didn't add any hulls to the mash, foolishly. It made a very good stout. Slightly different flavour to my other stouts, but no hint of spud. I called it Murphey's Stout for obvious reasons. The beer was excellent, but such a faff that I don't think I'd do it again.
Good luck with your experiment.

I remember I once made parsnip wine, which had a very distinctive, earthy taste. Not unpleasant, but not vinous, either. I wonder how that would work in a beer.
 
I've had a parsnip stout that was pretty good. Hard to find a recipe for that but keen to try making one at some stage...
 
Bottled this tonight. It was startlingly clear and a lovely pale gold colour. Got just under 21 litres siphoned into the bottling bucket with 154g dextrose in cooled boiled solution, so carbonation will be high at approx 2.60 CO2. Around right for the style.
Bottled a mix of 750ml and 500ml bottles and into the carbonation fridge at 20 degs.
Tasted pretty promising. Looking fwd to trying this in a couple of weeks... 🙂
 
I wondered that. Perhaps the vegetable matter acted like a natural fining agent, and bits just dropped when the temp was lowered...?
I did add half a whirlfloc tab at end of boil like normal, and noticed things were setting out in the sample tube pretty well even when warm...
 
14 days in. Time for a test, and it's not actually bad... athumb..
Sort of a Kölsch-y feel, with lots of mouthfeel and a bit of residual sweetness. I think it's not quite carbonated yet so another week should improve that, and more time at fridge temp afterwards will help it clear more. But I'm pretty happy with this as an experimental brew. Might drop a bottle to the organisers of next year's swede-fest. (yes that's a real thing)... 😄
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14 days in. Time for a test, and it's not actually bad... athumb..
Sort of a Kölsch-y feel, with lots of mouthfeel and a bit of residual sweetness. I think it's not quite carbonated yet so another week should improve that, and more time at fridge temp afterwards will help it clear more. But I'm pretty happy with this as an experimental brew. Might drop a bottle to the organisers of next year's swede-fest. (yes that's a real thing)... 😄
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looks amazing
 
Yeah it actually does. Thanks.
It was only bunged in the fridge this morning so after a bit of time I imagine it will drop really clear...
 

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