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Raspberry Catastrophe

Classification: fruit beer, raspberry beer, extract

Source: Eric Hale ( or (, HBD Issue 1749, June 5, 1995

This is my wife's favorite beer of all time. It is also the first fruit beer I ever made. If it's your first, learn from my mistake. The basis for this is just a simple Pale Ale and add some fruit. Here's my recipe for Raspberry Catastrophe (I'll explain the name below). I'm an extract brewer and proud of it. I can make some pretty good beer and I don't have the time for all grain.

I made a big mistake. My normal primary/bottling-bucket was in use, so I used a 5 gallon carboy as my primary. BIG MISTAKE. At least I was smart enough to use a blow off tube. The stuff chugged along nicely for a couple of days and then in about two days... Kablooey! Raspberries everywhere. I mean everywhere! I swore someone tipped over the fermenter and didn't bother to clean-up. I guess the sugars in the fruit took a few days to complex into something the yeast REALLY liked to eat. There was about 1.5 gallons of beer and raspberries on the floor and walls. I panicked, breaking the first rule of brewing: RDWHAHB. Once some brewing compatriots got me to relax. I immediately fitted the carboy with an airlock, boiled 0.5 lb of Laaglander DME (because I had it hanging around) in 1.5 gallons of water, cooled it, and added it to the brew.

My wife says it is the best beer I ever made. When I offered the beer to brewing gentiles, and told them what happened to the brew, they were skeptical. I said it's not like I scraped the raspberries off the floor and back into the beer. I was thinking of it. Raspberries are expensive when you buy them in November. Everything turned out fine. There was a slight wine quality to beer. Just a little tart. The longer it sat in the bottle the better the head and carbonation. If you can stand to wait about four weeks, it's great. A friend told me he had been saving a bottle and opened it last week (about 6 months in the bottle) and it was great.

I'll be making it again when the berry prices come down later this season. Let me know how yours turns out.



Boil 2.5 gallons of water with Extract, DME, and bittering hops for 60 minutes. Add flavoring hops at 10 minutes before the end of the boil.

Cool to almost pitching temperature. Add wort and frozen raspberries to AT LEAST a six (6) gallon primary fermenter. Add another ~2.5 gallons (to make five gallons total). Aerate (I put on lid and shake) and pitch yeast. Fit primary with a blow off tube, NOT AN AIR-LOCK. Primary for two (2) weeks (some place where you don't care if it might erupt and check it daily), secondary for two (2) weeks, prime then bottle and drink in another two weeks.