How About Some Cherries in Your Stout?

Cherry Fever Stout was one of my first homebrewed beers back in 1990. The recipe was taken from the bible for every novice homebrewer of the time – Charlie Papazian’s The Complete Joy of Homebrewing.

I was living in Oshkosh back then, so it was much easier for me to drive to a pick-your-own cherry orchard in southern Fond du Lac County rather than Door County. I had never picked cherries before. I think Papazian called for about five pounds of cherries, but I distinctly recall that I wanted 12 pounds. In fact, I wanted to bump up everything in the recipe. I guess I was going for an Imperial Cherry Fever Stout. Most importantly, I did not want the cherry flavor to be overpowered by the roasted malts.

Did I mention it was my first time picking cherries? When I got to the weigh station, I discovered that me and my picking crew – my daughter and a friend of hers – had picked 60-some pounds of cherries. So in addition to Cherry Fever Stout, I made a cherry lager, a cherry wheat (long before that become a popular flavor among craft brewers), and probably some cherry pies and bread.

Out of all of that, I recall that the Cherry Fever Stout hit the mark for me. First and foremost, it was a stout, but a cherry stout. With equal billing, the cherries should be as prominent as the stout.

So, whenever I see a commercial cherry stout, I must try it. Imperial Cherry Stout is from Geneva Lake Brewing Co. of Lake Geneva, Wis.

The brewery says it is a full-bodied winter seasonal, but I could drink this beer every day, in any season. It weighs in at a hefty 10.6 percent, but it is so smooth and delicious you would never peg it for a high-alcohol brew.

Yummy chocolate tones of the stout become undertones here as the stinging Maynard Ferguson-like high notes from the Door County cherries take the lead. I love that effect.

This Imperial Cherry Stout by Geneva Lake does all that. If, like me, you are a fan of fruit beers and stouts, treat yourself to this one because it is the best of both of those worlds. You’ll be glad you did. I found mine at Koepsel’s. Definitely worth the 12 bucks.