Mint Coffee Brown Ale #1

The inspiration for this recipe came from a whim – dropping a tea bag into a cup of coffee. The peppermint tea changed what was an ordinary cup of coffee into something special. So – why not make a beer out of it? Plus, Amy likes brown ales. It’s a double win!

The Malt

A mix of chocolate and lightly roasted malts were used for this recipe. A touch of rye increases the body of the beer – important for a dark beer. This is especially the case since a previous home brew project (a chocolate mint stout) left Frank wanting something more substantial.

mint and malt for the mint coffee brown homebrew.jpg

The Hops

For this recipe, we’re using a very special variety of hops: Mintras. The hops imparts both an herbal and a minty quality. The mint notes should compliment the real mint used in this recipe. The particular hops used are whole cone hops. This is unlike the hops used in most brewing – which uses hop pellets. (The includes commercial production. It is a special event when a brewery uses whole cone hops.). Hop pellets still do the job – contributing their floral notes and bitter flavors. However, using whole cone hops is always something fun to do.

The Add-Ins

True to the recipe’s name, we used ground coffee and a  fresh mint. The mint was the same kind as what is available at your local market. We opted for fresh mint – as opposed to mint extract in the primary.

Since the mint goes in at the end of the boil, we’re able to kill any of the particular foreign bacteria that could ruin the fermentation process. Using mint extract for the secondary fermenter helps keep out some of the various bacteria that could spoil a beer.

Gravity

As with our other brewing attempts, we fell a bit short of the target original gravity: 1.050 vs. 1058. The result will be a beer with a smaller alcohol content than intended. The final gravity clocked in at 1.010.

final gravity of coffee mint brown ale for homebrewing using brew in a bag BIAB

The Verdict

Six weeks later, the brew is ready to enjoy. Sampling it, the mint comes off the nose and the coolness is felt on the tongue. The flavor contributed by the mint is almost indistinguishable, but that’s OK because it still works. The body is balanced by the carbonation.  The coffee notes however are lacking.

final-product-to-sample-for-our-first-go-at-a-coffee-mint-brown-ale-home-using-brew-in-a-bag-BIAB.jpg

Mint Coffee Brown #2

Of course, the amount of the the add-ins used, and their timing are always a variable. Another way to experiment with this recipe is to tweak the amount of rye used. This will make a small difference in the alcohol content, but a larger difference in the body of the beer. In a future iteration, let’s add more coffee.

mint leaves in the secondary for the coffee mint brown ale for homebrewing using brew in a bag (BIAB) and fresh mint

 

The Recipe

Molé IPA

The inspiration for this beer came from a short bought of insanity. Having recently been enjoying New Belgium’s Lips of Faith specialty series offering, Cocoa Molé and having an uninspiring IPA brew kit lying around, I decided to invent a new beer: the Molé IPA. It’s just like regular IPA, but with all the add-ins that go into a molé. It may just be the most awful beer ever made.

If you’re not familiar with a molé beer, think of Mexican hot chocolate – which is hot chocolate with cinnamon and chile peppers and other spices added. Sometimes these molé brews are lumped into the broader category of chile beers – but molés are quite distinct from what would otherwise a be blonde ale with jalapeno added. So, consider molé beers as a sub category within the chile beer category.

xocoveza-the-inspiration-for-our-home-brew-clone-mole-beer.jpg

Wort

Thick! It’s so thick from all the stuff floating around in there. Going forward, I would extracts where possible for substitutions – and brewed coffee instead of coffee grains. This would help to clarify the beer. But, I will never make this beer again – because it’s terrible.

Add-ins

Just scroll down to the recipe below to see all the good stuff I threw in there:

•  vanilla extract
•  ground coffee
•  cocoa powder
•  cinnamon
•  jalapeno

add-ins-for-our-mole-IPA-homebrew-beer-using-brew-in-a-bag.jpg

Check out the photo above. You can see the bit of the jalapeno floating towards the top of the fermenter. Down towards the bottom of the glass carboy, you can see everything else – everything that will contribute it’s flavor to making our molé IPA.

Gravity

final gravity of our mole IPA, for homebrewing using brew in bag

The Verdict

The nose is floral. However, you can tell that there are lots of other things going on there. The heat is subtle, but lingers all the way down your esophagus. And then it stays there for a long time. It’s almost like getting heartburn. The other flavors are there too: cinnamon, coffee. The coffee is most subtle.

Jpeg

It’s not nearly as terrible as I thought it would be, but it’s still pretty bad. I poured myself a 12 oz bottle and I won’t be finishing it. All that said,I don’t think the mole IPA is a bad idea. It’s just the execution was a failure. Will I make a further iteration – testing the validity of the mole IPA idea? Maybe. But it probably won’t be anytime soon.

The Recipe

Molé Brown #1

The inspiration for this brew came from a couple different beers – but mostly from New Belgium’s Lips of Faith specialty series offering, Cocoa Molé. If you’re not familiar with a molé beer, think of Mexican hot chocolate – which is hot chocolate with cinnamon and chile peppers and other spices added. Sometimes these molé brews are lumped into the broader category of chile beers – but molés are quite distinct from what would otherwise a be blonde ale with jalapeno added. So, consider molé beers as a sub category within the chile beer category.

xocoveza-the-inspiration-for-our-home-brew-clone-mole-beer.jpg

 

Another simply fantastic molé beer is made by San Diego brewery Stone Brewing Co. Their Xocoveza has come out the last two holiday seasons – with the more recent release being even better than the first. It’s a combination of peppers, chocolate, vanilla, coffee and other spices. The beer is very flavorful, but not overly heavy.

The Malt

Our clone brew for the New Belgium Lips of Faith Cocoa Molé clone starts with the malt. As with all dark brews, we used a combination or light and dark malts. This includes rye, in addition to the usual barely. The grain was finely milled, once. We fined milled the grain to help us better achieve our target original gravity. Fine milling, over coarse milling, helps to further open up the malt, exposing their sugars that will be captured by the boiling water.

mole chile beer homebrew brew all grain in a bag - small

The Add-Ins

For our own attempt at a mole beer, we’ve limited our add-ins to just three very special ingredients:

•   whole cinnamon sticks

•   retail chile powder

•   100% pure cacao

All of the ingredients we used are available at your local retail grocery market. Though the add-ins are unusual for a beer, they are easy to obtain – as opposed to some of the more special hops we’ve used in our brews.

Original Gravity

As with our previous brews, the original gravity of the wort clocked in at 1.045 – which was short of our recipe’s calculation of 1.051. As a side note, we measured the original gravity with both an inexpensive hydrometer as well as more expensive refractometer. We’ve been experimenting with the repetition and level of milling. Even with milling the grain finely (as opposed to coarsely), we still fell short of our target gravity.

measuring original gravity of the homebrew mole chile beer using brew in a bag (BIAB) - small

The Wort

Sampling the wort, the add-ins were barely distiniguishable. Perhaps only the chili powder made itself known. However, there were ample hops in the brew that stood out in the wort sample. Will this beer be molé-y? We can only know that six weeks in. It will, however, definitely be bitter from the hops.

The Verdict

It’s not bad, if not a little underwhelming. The base of the brew is good with some chocolaty notes present. Then there is also a small to moderate kick coming from the chili and cinnamon powders. It’s not bad. But I want more – more of everything: more chocolate, more cinnamon, more peppers – and I want coffee and vanilla and nut meg too. In short, I would consider this a sort of mole-light. It’s a good introductory beer for those who are just ever so slightly adventurous.

our homebrew version of a mole beer using brew in a bag, a sort of a stone xocoveza clone

What’s more, the character of (some of) the add-ins persevered over the course of a few weeks. This is different from some of the other brews we’ve concocted – where the character contributed by the add-ins fades exponentially with age. Two and half weeks after the “drink” date (the drink date is usually two weeks after bottling), the presence of the add-ins were still there. Yay!

Iteration #2

As mentioned, I’d like to try additional add-ins, especially vanilla and coffee – closer to the style that Stone Brewing puts out in their Xocoveza. I’d also like to see what adding more cacao does – or what happens when introducing these add-ins at different parts of the brewing process. For example, instead of going into the primary fermenter – these add-ins could go into the boil. They may – or may not – help to impart more flavor of the add-in into the final brew. A final option for tweaking the add-ins could involve changing the granularity of the add-ins. Specifically, using a whole chile pepper instead of just chile power, or grading/shredding the cinnamon sticks and bit of cacao.

The Recipe