Back in June 2007 I brewed what I had intended to be a brown ale with some Montmorency tart cherry juice from Miller's Northwood Market on M-22 in Bear Lake, Michigan. I've used their cherry juice before for making cherry stout, but this past year I thought I'd try something different, a brown ale. Well, the beer turned out lighter than I had intended and not quite as cherry-flavored as I hoped, but that was at least a couple months ago.
Fast forward to early March 2008 and I'm tasting a beer that is quite lively (plenty of carbonation) when poured, creating a thick and rocky head. As the head falls, little bits of sticky lace are left behind down the sides of the glass. Underneath the head, is amber liquid spiked with pink. The tart cherry nose is subtle, but it's there. This beer tastes like a saison - crisp and light - but with the hoppiness replaced by a delicate tart cherry flavor. This beer is not a brown ale (not even close) and not really that big of a fruit beer, but it is enjoyable. Sometimes in homebrewing there's these happy accidents and this beer is one. Although, I think it turned out good, I think a couple different things could make it more interesting; such as adding another gallon of tart cherry juice (I used one gallon in the original recipe) and perhaps adding some honey to counter the tartness of the cherries. I'm not sure what happened to the color; I really thought I added enough chocolate malt, but I obviously didn't and unfortunately I don't know how much chocolate malt I used because I lost the Promash recipe file in a hard drive crash. Fortunately, I do have some notes on the hop schedule. I used low alpha (something like 3.5 percent AA) Hallertau hops, which hopefully will be available despite the hop shortage. Heck, hopefully the cherry crop will good this year, too!