I originally brewed this bad boy in March 2012 as an homage to my favorite band of all time Five Iron Frenzy. It was a play on their albums The End Is Near and The End Is Here–their last album before their 2004 breakup. But earlier this year, they got back together. Overwhelmed with joy, I wanted to do a whimsical, frivolous beer that was a bit fruity, but altogether quality. So, I dreamed up: Five Iron Frenzy: The End is Beer Blueberry Pale Ale.
It was a simple concept; brew a pale ale, then throw in a few pounds of blueberries, then taste the deliciousness. However, it didn’t exactly turn out that way. You can read all about the evolution of this strangely-prepared beer on the original brew page (see notes at the bottom), but for the long story short:
Going off of the wisdom from Jame Spencer’s Basic Brewing podcast as well as Mike Tonsmier’s (The Mad Fermentationist’s) blog, I went with freezing the blueberries and putting them into the fermenter during secondary. Much to my chagrin, a week later there was a bit of a pellicle on the beer. There must have been some unwanted bacteria on or in the blueberries that snuck into the beer. Having made several sour beers (bacteria-laden ales) previously, I wasn’t too distressed. While I was looking for a clean ale, I decided to make the most of it and poured in the dregs of some of my favorite sours (RR’s Sanctification–lots of brett, lacto, and pedio, a few other commercial sours as well as some sour trub from a lambic I had racked around then).
About a month later, there was a sizable pellicle–I’m talking THICK. Had I reported this to the proper authorities, it may have required a HAZMAT team. So I bottled a single 12oz bottle to see just what I had created. Two weeks later I had a taste and it tasted like an infected, watered down blueberry juice. It was disgusting. I had just about given up, when I decided to do what I could to salvage the beer. It was a bit watery, so I added a gallon of a very dry tripel I had just brewed (3711-French Saison yeast). Also, the blueberry flavor was a bit too strong and sweet, so in my crazy mind I figured adding another fruit might balance it out a but. So I added a gallon of an orange pale ale I had recently brewed as well.
(I can see you cringing. And yes, nowhere along the way did I truly think I could salvage this beer. I did however take copious notes and I figured I’d at least learn a thing or two along the way. Plus, I’ve never dumped a batch of beer, and I really wanted to keep it that way.)
I then left the fermenter alone for six months. I ended up bottling them into a bunch of 750ml bottles and put them in a cool place. A few months after that, I crashed a bottle and had a taste.