Loquat beer / Bière au nefles du japon
We moved houses some time ago. The garden has very few trees, except for one that was fairly ornamental. Last summer, my two-year old son was walking around the garden, and pointed that he wanted to try the oranges. What? Sure enough, that ornamental tree was sporting a large number of orange fruits, which in fact looked more like apricots than anything. Being always wary of eating stuff I can’t identify, I deflected the question, then looked up what the heck that was. Thanks Google Image Search! We have a loquat tree(“Néflier du Japon”, or Bibassier, for the French locals). And the fruits are… edible! Hurray.
A quick taste test confirmed why I had never heard of that fruit. It does taste somewhat like apricot… watery apricot… water apricot that has no personality, and an unpleasant texture to it. No way we’re eating 3kg of that.
So what to do with it? The Internet is strangely silent. You can use it in some savoury dishes (e.g. this loquat chicken looks interesting), and there are traces of people doing wine and beer with it. Beer you say? Now you have my full interest.
After much reading, thinking, and tinkering, I decided to cross several recipes, based mostly on a previous letchee wheat beer I’d made years ago.
Here we go, for about 18 litres:
- 3kg loquats, pitted and frozen
- 3.5kg pilsen malt
- 1k wheat malt
- 22g Chinook 14%, 30 mins
- 15g Target 10%, 30 mins
- Safale S04
OG: 12°B (1048)
I’m only doing a 30 mins boil, following this guy’s advice that longer time is not really usually required. A note to those that aren’t used to brewing wheat (I’m not): it frothes and overflows like an hysterical pea and ham soup. Make sure you stay near for the whole duration of the boil.
No aromatic hops, this goes straight to the fermenter.
We freeze the fruit as there is a general consensus that it breaks apart the cell walls and makes it easier for the flavours to come out.
After first fermentation, rack to secondary fermenter with defrosted loquats. Wait… I don’t know how long yet (At leat a month).
I’ll update the post in a couple of months to tell how it tastes!
Well, that was definitely not worth the reading and the tinkering. The resulting beer is flat and completly neutral, with not even a hint of fruit in it. I’m now planning to add a lethal amount of ginger to it at bottling time.
Things I may try with next year’s harvest:
- Loquat wine, but it seems complicated
- Loquat jam, but I don’t usually eat jam
- Ask these people how they make one that people actually want to drink.