Brewing a beer with Redskins

This is how many Redskins I planned to add - 50. But during the boil I realised I'd have to double that.

This is how many Redskins I planned to add – 50. But during the boil I realised I’d have to double that.

For the last two years I’ve been on the hunt for a recipe for the legendary Redskin Beer. That’s not a beer brewed by Washington’s NFL team but rather a beer that features the Redskin lolly popular in Australia.

There was an air of mystery about this beer. It seemed like every homebrewer in Wollongong I spoke to knew a guy who knew a guy who brewed it once. But I could never find the guy who actually brewed one.

That was important because my previous attempt at making a beer with a lolly as an ingredient didn’t work out too well. I used Killer Pythons and the result ended up a sugary mess. Made it about 18 months ago and it’s still hard to drink. So I needed to know how to add the Redskins – in the boil, in the fermenter after a few days or just dry hopping?

Lately I found not one, not two but three people who had brewed one through the Illawarra Brewers Union online forum (why didn’t I check out that site earlier? Because I’m stupid). I checked out their recipes and then worked out which one was best for me. One of them used a tripel as a base, which sounded great but I wasn’t able to source all the ingredients on my brew day – which was yesterday.

So I went with a wheat beer base with Redskins  – which have a sweet raspberry flavour – added throughout the boil. Initially I planned to halve the recipe amount and use 50 of the lollies – all of which had to be unwrapped individually (what a pain). My reasoning was better not enough than too much. If I didn’t end up with much Redskin flavour, at least I would still have something drinkable. Go overboard and it could end up undrinkable.

But, during the boil I realised I’d need the kilogram the recipe called for. My version was specialty grain and extract, so I was just boiling with seven litres of water. So, once that went into the fermenter it would be diluted with 11 litres of water. The flavour in the boil needed to be more concentrated. Which meant unwrapping another 50 of those damned lollies. My hands were sooooo sticky after that.

This is what Redskin beer looks like before the yeast gets pitched

This is what Redskin beer looks like before the yeast gets pitched

What surprised me was how quickly they dissolved. The upwrapped Redskins stuck together in a bowl while I was waiting for the pot to boil. So I was expecting them to clump together, stick to the pot and scorch the crap out of it during the boil. But it all went fine. Maybe because I put them into the boil in stages rather than all 100 right at the start.

After I took a hydrometer sample I poured the wort into a glass. The colour was a surprise; seemed more tangerine than the raspberry colour I expected. The distinctive Redskin aroma is there, as well as the flavour, but not so strong as to dominate at this early stage. I’m expecting a fair bit of that sweetness to ferment out but the raspeberry characters to remain. And I learned from the Killer Python debacle and pitched twice as much yeast as normal so it doesn’t die under the sugar onslaught.

To be honest, it’s the best-tasting wort I’ve ever made. Fingers crossed that bodes well for the finished product.

As for the name of the beer, I’m opting for Native American Ale. I figure it’s more culturally sensitive than “Redskin beer”.

7 replies »

    • There were a few options. Could have gone the tripel as mentioned in the post. But could have also done it as a pale ale, which is what the original recipe had. A wheat beer just seemed to make more sense to me.

    • It turned out alright. Probably a bit too much Redskin flavour, which I found I got a bit sick of by the end of the glass. But others have had it and thought it really good.

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