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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Pear flavored vodka

We are currently producing vodka, gin, and a few different whiskeys, but we've never done any liqueurs, cordials, or flavored products (except gin) and I want to do a seasonal pear flavor.

There is a variety of Bartlett pears that grow on farms all around us. Most people call them "fall pears". They taste amazing after the first frost and usually fall off very soon afterwards and are eaten up by the deer and bear. I'd like to create a spirit, flavored vodka I think, using these pears. I'm thinking we take our vodka base, soak the pears in the base for a bit, and then distill it off. It's my understanding, from Kris Berglund, that pear flavor comes through in the distillate very well. However, I don't have any more information to go from. Are there any books I can purchase that discuss spirit production of this type? Or can someone here get me pointed in the right direction? Should I peel them and core them and just add them to our base spirit?

I know several farmers here that will let me have the pears if I go pick them. I'm certain that they haven't been sprayed or treated as they are a bit off the grid. However, I'm a but worried about making sure they are up to par for usage, really because other than checking them visually for quality and tasting them myself, I don't know enough to make sure they are safe or good or....

I don't want to create a product from the fermented mash of pears.


Pear flavor and aroma do come through very strongly in a spirit. Especially Bartlett.

If these don't ripen like other Bartlett, then they are probably not Bartlett. But I wouldn't be too worried about identifying the cultivar.

I think the steep and distill method is reasonable. I'd just coarsely chop the fruit up and dump them in. Be forewarned, pears can make really oily spirits.

If the fruit is sound and not cracked, it should be okay. One thing to watch for in pears is that they ripen from the core out. They can feel firm, and be complete mush on the inside. Judging soundness can take a little practice, but leaning green shouldn't hurt the spirit much. Fallen pears are almost certainly overripe - unless you shook them off yourself.


Is there any possibility of doing an infusion based pear flavored liqueur?


The Bartlett Pear is known as the Williams Pear in Germany and is the used to create a popular eau de vie called Poire Williams (delicious) but is sounds like you are looking just to capture that flavor in a cleaner, less sweet, spirit. With a Himbergeist, blackberries are soaking in neutral spirits for a period of time and then pressed to capture all the natural juice. This is then added to the spirit and re-distilled result in a nice flavor without the sweetness. I imagine it will work with pear but for technique I defer to the distillers in this forum, I am merely an enthusiast.


Delaware, I'm open to all suggestions, but I was looking for a less sweet, clean spirit. I also don't know much, or have the tools, to do a spirit with added sugar....I don't have a way to get the proof, for one.

Guppy, the Heimbergeist sounds like what I'm thinking of.

Eau de Vie is produced from the pear mash, I believe, right?



Getting the proof when sugar is present is really easy, but a bit time consuming. I'll go through it for the group - it's called doing a "burn-off." Cordials/liqueurs are very nice, don't exclude them - this is too easy.

From the Gauging Manual 27 CFR 30.31c...

Just use a small bench still to distill off "all" of the alcohol, then return the recovered volume to the original volume/temperature with distilled water, and proof in the usual manner.

This means taking a sample of a given volume - enough to run your hydrometer. Measure that by volume in a given vessel and note the temperature of the fluid. Then distill this until you've captured all the liquid. Be careful to watch the boil, and reduce the flame when the liquid starts to make soapy/sticky bubbles, then stop before it starts to scorch. Retained heat should be sufficient to "burn-off" all but the last mL or two of liquid. Now, allow this stuff to return to the starting temperature and transfer it to the original measuring vessel (which you've rinsed and drained), and add distilled water to return to the same volume. If you have any trouble with temperatures, condition everything to the same temperature using a water bath. After that, just use your hydrometer and thermometer as usual.


I've never made Geist from Pears. Simply because, obviously, it's such a great eaux-de-vie.

If I had to do one, though, I'd just make sure the stems and seeds were gone, and I'd crush the pears, and steep it in the alcohol for a couple of weeks before distilling it off. Avoid O2. I'm not so sure that you'll be happy with the results. Those better be some very cheap pears.

Geist means "ghost", and simply means that you're steeping fruit in some kind of spirit before distillation. It's normally used for fruit that won't yield much in the way of alcohol if it is fermented...raspberries in particular.

You can find quite a few Geist(s) on the shelves in the US that are incorrectly labeled as Brandies. They are, in fact, flavored Vodkas.



Saying you don't think I'll be happy with the results....meaning you don't think I'll get enough flavor to make me happy or that the taste will be bad?

We really aren't set up to do a fruit mash for eaux-de-vie....but I'm all for making a change in an effort to produce the best product.


We regualrly work with pears and it can be fantastic and sometimes frustrating. Bartlett will ripen in cold storage after they are picked if need be, while others like Starkrimson prefer other conditions. You want to pick them when ripe, but don't wait too long, the second they hit the ground they begin decaying instantly and will be useless. If the aromatics are not exactly singing as much as you want after distillation or the vodka-iness is a little overwhelming a post-distillation infusuion with some dried pear will really help (set some pear aside for this maybe).

If pears are common in your area there may be a cider presser or fermenter should you want to go in that direction. As for the infusion, yes, remove all stems and seeds.

Particulate can be a small concern, but sugar should help suspend these or chill-filtration.

Hope this helps




Saying you don't think I'll be happy with the results....meaning you don't think I'll get enough flavor to make me happy or that the taste will be bad?

We really aren't set up to do a fruit mash for eaux-de-vie....but I'm all for making a change in an effort to produce the best product.



The mashing is going much better. I'm using more water, adjusting my PH with lactic versus citric, and taking better care of my yeast during hydration, and added a yeast nutrient. I get starting Brix around 19-20 most of the time. I still don't get down to zero on my refractometers, but I test for sugar with diabetic test strips and there's none there. It's my understanding that I can get false readings on a refractometer when alcohol is present as it also refracts light. I've tested this with 10% ABV and I get a reading of about 5 Brix, so I'm guessing that's where my false readings were coming from. I'm getting very good yield and the product tastes great.

Thanks for your help with that situation. It was greatly appreciated.

Do you have some info on the crusher you mentioned above?

When I'm fermenting without jackets, like in a food grade barrel, don't I need to worry about temps? I no idea about the right amount of fruit to water, yeast, etc.

I'm excited. This is gonna be fun.


"When I'm fermenting without jackets, like in a food grade barrel, don't I need to worry about temps? I no idea about the right amount of fruit to water, yeast, etc. "

Try not to let it pop up too high on temp, but honestly unlike whiskey wash there is a limit to sugar presence and it wont take off the way a batch of wash with potential for 12% will. I've just used the fresh juice from the pressing and added a wine yeast with esters I desire (think clean aromatic whites) (I once used an ale yeast with apples that worked lovely also). I am sure there are more 'refined' approaches but this is just one simple option. I personally pre-pitch in a dilution.

Pears can have a bit of un-fermentable sugar, so heads up on that, be careful about infection. I am always careful to give a long secondary with fruit and make sure it is done, but careful of spoiling with no cooling abilities.

Hope this helps, if anyone has a more technical approach I would love to hear advice.




I'm also interested in specs on the crusher you mentioned.

Thanks, Ian


Most decent homebrew shops will have 'em.


On this page, you'll see a few options, but you'll find the one I'm talking about listed at $299. Pop the hand crank off, and put on a drill with a large diameter, and you're done.

The eaux-de-vie distillers I've worked with in Germany in Austria have different ideas as to the crush size. Play around with what works for you.

If you're fermenting without jackets, you can pitch low by chilling the fruit in a cooler. If your distributor has a cold room, ask them if you can stick a pallet of fruit in there for a couple of days. Ripen the fruit first, then move it to the cooler for two days. Pull them out of the cold room and crush as quickly as you can, and pitch immediately.

Just one man's opinion. Feel free to disregard.


Hey guys,

For the type of production you are planning, I think you'd be better of with a motorized crusher designed for fruit mashing.

You can either go with a plastic model or a complete stainless setup.

I am attaching two pictures.

Please give me a call if you are interested in one of them.

Also, if you want to discuss production techniques for your pear brandy, I am happy to see if we can help you. The crushing might not be the only thing you might want to do with the pears.

As for the test distillation mentioned above, there are small units (like in a lab) that take 100ml samples of mash, liqueur or sugared product. Denver Distiller was spot on with this and also the production of "Geist" (if anyone out there has an English term, please tell me).

The reason for removing the stems as mentioned above is to get rid of tannins.

All the best,


Kothe Distilling Technologies Inc.

5121 N. Ravenswood Ave

Chicago, IL 60640

(312) 878 7766


If you're fermenting the pears, whole fruit or juice, then I'd recommend acidifying the must. Down to at least 3.5 if you wash the fruit. Maybe 3.0 if you don't.

Also, pears have several brix worth of sorbitol. So the specific gravity won't drop to 1.


And Robert, why would reducing tannins matter in something that's redistilled? Given that distillates are clear, it will take some good data to convince me that cyanidin makes it through the column.



I want to talk to you for sure. When's good for you?


A few months back I infused pears with 180 proof rum (double distilled and carbon filtered). Let it sit a couple days with the pears and redistilled with the fruit in the boiler. Used 3 lbs of pears to 1/2 gallon rum. Some seeds made it in the boiler and a couple of those were cut. The result didn't have much pear flavor, but it did have a bitter taste, I think from the seeds.

The same problem happened when I infused rum with strawberries. The strawberries and seeds went into the boiler. The result was extremely bitter and undrinkable. That batch ended up as a fuel additive in the gas tank of my car.

Here is some good research about pears