Dark Star Cherry beer label

Dark Star Cherry Stout

Pronounced "Daaaaaaark Staaaaaaar CherrReeeeeee"

Recipe copyright (C) 1993 Forrest Cook and Jonathan Corbet, Microburst Brewery


Brewed July 13, 1993
Bottled July 19, 1993
Makes approximately six Gallons of stout

Start by heating abuot 4 gallons of cold water in a six+ gallon brew pot on your stove. The brew pot should have room for the water, the malt and the cherries.

2 Tbsp of gypsum were added to the wort to soften the local water.

Heat the water to approximately 90 degrees F.

    1/2 Lb of ground chocolate malt
    2 X 3.3 Lb cans of John Bull hopped dark malt extract
    2 X 3.3 Lb cans of John Bull premium hopped stout extract

Now is a good time to prestart your yeast (see below).

Bring the wort to a slow boil and keep it there for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Beware that boiling wort may have a tendency to foam up and boil over, making a sticky mess.

Turn off the heat.

Gradually add 1 Oz of cascade leaf hops to the wort as it cools. These hops are more for aroma than bittering since the wort is already hopped.

Add 12 Lbs of very ripe clean, pitted or sliced dark red bing cherries, preferably from Ed the Dead Head's Colorado western slope relatives :-)

Cool the wort. We take the brew pot and put it into a sink full of cold water. The idea is to get the temperature of the wort plus the water in the bucket to a decent temperature for yeast to grow in.

Pour the warm wort into a sterile brewing bucket, add additional cold water to get to the desired volume, approximately 6 gallons in this case.

This is a good time to take an initial specific gravity reading, make sure to stir up the wort before measuring.

Our batch started at 1.060 @ 89 Degrees F.

Hydrating the yeast:

We used the dry yeast packet that came with the malt. Put about 1/8 cup of lukewarm water into a sterile cup. Add the dry yeast to the water and cover the cup. After the yeast has sat in the water for about 15 minutes add several tablespoons of cooled wort to the yeast slurry and cover again. The yeast mixture should be foaming nicely within about 30 minutes.

The most critical part:

Add the live yeast slurry to the bucket as soon as the wort has cooled down to around 90 degree F. Do not let the cooled wort to sit around for very long without yeast. This allows the yeast to get a head start over any wild yeast or other airborne bacteria that the wort has come into contact with.

An alternative approach would be to pitch the dry yeast directly into the cooled wort, pre-hydrating generally helps the yeast to start up more quickly.

Put a fairly tight fitting lid on the bucket and let 'er rip. You should have a nice brown-red foam on the top of the liquid within 12 to 24 hours.

Stir the cherry mass into the fermenting beer with a sterile spoon about once every day or so. After about 2 to 10 days, the main fermenting will have died down.

Transfer the beer into a sterile carboy. We have had good luck with putting a funnel and strainer in the carboy and scooping pans of the brew from the bucket into the strainer. Be sure to sterilize the pan by boiling some water in it. Use a potato masher with the strainer to to squeeze the juice out of the cherries. The left-over fermented cherries were put into the backyard compost heap. The next day I noticed tracks in the compost heap, the neighborhood raccoons must have had a big party :-)

Put an air lock on the carboy and let it finish fermenting. It is a good idea to occasionally rock the carboy to mix up the wort. Fermentation usually takes a week or two, the lock should virtually stop bubbling. Don't rush this part or you may over-carbonate your bottles (boom).

At this point, you can take the final gravity reading. Make sure to stir up the wort before measuring. Our batch ended at 1.035 @ 68 Degrees F.

Boil 1/2 cup of water and add 5/8 cup of corn sugar to prime (carbonate) the bottles. Mix the sugared water thoroughly into the beer. If you don't mix thoroughly, you may end up with some flat bottles and some VERY foamy or even explosive bottles.

Bottle the beer into sterile bottles using a sterilized siphon tube with a plastic thumb-lock. Wait at least one week, open a test bottle and enjoy! After this beer was around 3 months old it started to taste really good. The brew can last for a number of years but is probably best consumed in the 1 to 3 month time frame.

Brewing Terms:

wort - The sugary malt and hop solution that is fermented into beer.

carboy - One of those big glass bottles that are usually used for
	drinking water.  We use 7 gallon "acid" carboys
	that were purchased from a local homebrew supplier.
        Be sure to clean the carboy, sanitize with clorinated
        water and rinse thoroughly before adding the wort.


Homebrewing of beer is legal in most of the US, with the possible exception of Utah. It is a good idea to read a few books on homebrewing, there are some potential hazards in the process such as exploding bottles and carboys (don't let the hops plug the release hose). Can you say glass grenades? This is only a basic guideline, you are responsible for being a safe brewer. Beware, this beer may be a gateway to making even darker beer.


For a good read, pick up a copy of Charlie Papazian's book "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing", available at most brewing supply stores. As Charlie says: Relax, don't worry, enjoy a homebrew.