Okay, I’ve made beer with candy before and I was challenged to do it again. If you have listened to Come and Brew It Radio, you'll know that a while back Stubby made an offhand comment about making a gummy bear beer, which turned into an official challenge. Could I make a beer with gummy bears? Yes, I could. And I did!

So I thought about how to do it. Gummy bears are mainly gelatin, sugar, and flavoring. That should work in a beer, right? Once again, the trick is knowing your base styles, your brewing practices, and having a solid recipe. If you read my previous post, I used a cream ale for the base, but this time I wanted to do something different. Plus, I was planning on entering this one in the Martin House Riverside Shootout.

After chatting with my brew team we decided on a Golden Strong ale. But more of a hybrid style, as we were not going to use a Belgian yeast. I also decided to utilize the Swaen malts once again. I had the idea to melt the gummy bears down into a candy syrup and use them at a couple different stages in the brew. There are several flavors of gummy bears you can buy in bulk. But for this one, we chose mango. Here is the final recipe:

The Golden Gummy Beer
10 Gallons (38L)
28# Swaen Pilsner
2# Swaen Belgian Caramel 12
2# Lactose
10 oz Saaz (2.6%AA) @60 min
2# Mango Gummy Bears @15 min
2 Whirlfloc @15 min
1 tsp Yeast nutrient @ 15 min
2# Mango Gummy Bears @ 10 days into fermentation
1# Mango Gummy Bears in Secondary

So, I said before gummy bears are mostly gelatin and gelatin is a clarifying agent. Plus, there's quite a bit of sugar in them. The best measurement we had of one pound of the melted gummy bears was 55 Brix or 1.260 S.G. For the additions, I used a double boiler to melt the gummy bears in a little bit of water. I made sure they were constantly stirred to prevent scorching and to maintain consistency and the process was easy. And I can easily say that the mango aroma really comes through when they begin to melt. The addition of all that melted yumminess also caused an expected secondary fermentation, but the gelatin also clarifies the fermenting wort quite nicely.

After the boil and primary additions there was a great mango aroma in the beer, with a definite mango and gummy bear flavor. We still had one pound of gummy bears left after those additions and we felt like we definitely wanted to use the full 5 pounds. So we added the final pound when we transferred to secondary.

In the end, the final beer was pretty darn good. It' came out with a nice light gold color and was very clear. The aroma was mango candy. The beer was sweet, without being cloying and there was a definite mango candy flavor blended with the overall beer flavor. Most people agreed, it was decidedly gummy bear. In fact, I brought my keg up to the shop and left it on tap for a couple weeks. Overall, it received great reviews, while raising a few eyebrows. And I'm pretty sure it might have inspired a few non-believer brewers to try something new.

So far, I’ve had a lot of fun with these ridiculous beers. I even have some of the gummy bear beer at home with a pitch of lactobacillus on it. Maybe I’ll end up with a pretty fun gummy bear sour. Anyway stay tuned for more experiments with fun ingredients because I’m always looking for a new challenge!

UPDATE: I brewed and entered the Mango Gummy Bear beer in the 3rd Annual Martin House Riverside Shootout. It ended up taking Third Place. And based on the judging video, people really enjoyed it.

--MikeyB


Check out my personal brewing page on Facebook at Brew with MikeyB and don't forget to listen in to Come and Brew it Radio!