Coconut Chocolate Stout #1

The Inspiration

I can’t say definitely that any particular beer inspired this homebrew. However, this is one coconut beer in particular is absolutely fantastic: Oskar Blue Brewery “Death By Coconut.” It’s a very sweet, very smooth and all coconut.

The Malt

For a dark beer, we used dark malt. The details are covered in the recipe section.

The Add-Ins

For coconut, we used unsweetened coconut flakes. For this particular batch, we selected a premium brand, which advertised the lack of sulfides. (Sulfur is commonly used as a preservative – in both food and beer. Some brewers even opine that sulfur added as a preservative in beer is what causes hangovers.) Whole coconut flakes, as opposed to a more finely minced bits of coconut, may impart less flavor to the ultimate brew because of less surface area.

coconut chocolate stout homebrew in the primary using brew in a bag BIAB

100% cacao bar was used to impart the chocolate flavor. One disadvantage of this is that much of the cacao was left in the boil pot – never getting into the primary fermenter.

Both add-ins were put in at the end of the boil. Putting the add-ins into the boil gets rid of any contamination issues. An alternative could be putting the add-ins into the primary – but that risks contamination. The add-ins could be sanitized themselves, but is a cumbersome process. For example, I once soaked fresh mint leaves in iodaphor before adding them to the secondary fermenter.

Gravity

I missed the boat on the OG for this recipe. However, it was a good learning experience. The lesson: pour some of the wort into your device for measuring  original gravity first – and then into the fermentation vessel. If you go in the opposite order, you’ll be left with wort full of hops and/or other add-ins. In the case of this recipe, I was left with a batch of chocolate sludge.

The Wort

The hops are immediately apparent. For a beer that’s centered around coconut and chocolate, the hops seem out of place. Six weeks of fermentation will change the balance of flavors. A lot of the cacao did not make it out of the boiling pot and into the primary. This is a function of using processed cacao and not nibs. Using nibs would be ideal – but are not always available (as was the case w/ this brew).

wort of coconut chocolate stout homebrew for brew in a bag

The Verdict

What happened!? On bottling day, the beer was all coconut. Two weeks, it was a regular chocolate stout. The coconut flavor died over the course of two weeks. What a bummer!

Iteration #2

We’ve already created a second recipe. This second attempt will use twice the coconut. Maybe this change will convince the coconut to stick around. As a further alternative, there’s always coconut extract.

The Recipe

Jalapeno Blond #1

The inspiration for this brew came from the absolute best chile beer I’ve had in my life – at a restaurant in Fort Collins, Colorado. Normally, when I am out on a beer tasting adventure I drink as little of each beer as possible – so that I can try a lot of different beers. However, this beer was so good that I had to order seconds. The brew had lots of chile flavor, with very mild heat. It was incredibly well balanced, light, crisp and refreshing – and this from a guy who isn’t a fan of blond ales. But the malt wasn’t the key; it was the add-in, that made this beer special.

The add-ins

In an attempt to mimic this chile beer we opted for fresh jalapenos – not knowing what the original brewers used in their “Hot Blonde.” Jalapenos are a natural choice because they are inexpensive and easily available at your local retailer.

cutting jalapenos

The jalapeno was initially cut into slices as per the photos. This, however, did not make it through the funnel into the primary carboy. In a successive brew, we actually minced the jalapeno with a Cuisanart. The minced jalapeno was added at the end of the boil. The tasting notes at the end of this post, however, refer to the former experiment.

The Wort

Given the addition of jalapeno to the wort, the wort faintly smelled and tasted of jalapeno when we sampled. We ended up adding the same thinly sliced jalapenos into the primary carboy. Best practice dictates cutting the jalapenos into smaller pieces – as per using the Cuisinart. To get even more out of the jalapenos, one could puree them. For this batch, we’re reporting on the results we got with coarsely cut jalapeno chunks.

home brew jalapeno blonde boiling wort

The Difference in Original Gravity

The difference in original gravity was just -0.002. Of our batches brewed for the day, this was some of the smallest differences we saw. The difference should be negligible. In this instance, the efficiency calculation of just 60% was spot on. This is despite milling the grain only use.

The Verdict

After two weeks in the primary, two weeks in the secondary, and a final two weeks of bottle-conditioning the brew was ready to enjoy. When sampling the brew, it was easy to identify the jalapeno notes on the nose. (It smelled like jalapeno.) It was not entirely subtle. Multiple folks who sampled the beer reported getting a whiff of pepper before ever drinking the beer. The nose is just plain fun, but misleading because the nose is more prominent than the flavor or heat existent in the actual beer. But perhaps it’s a good balance for white people. That is to say that the heat was also present, but mildly so. In total, the beer itself is good.

additional-peppers-for-the-jalapeno-blonde-hombrew-using-brew-in-a-bag-BIAB.jpg January 6, 2016 247 kB

Thought, while it is good, but I want a lot more pepper flavor and a bit more heat. It’s the pepper flavor that I recall from Colorado that was my inspiration for this beer. I want more of it! However, adding more jalapenos to get more flavor would also result in more heat. So what’s the solution? Adding peppers without heat – like the sweet red peppers in the photo above.

Jalapeno Blond #2?

Going forward, it would be interesting to try some tweaks on this same recipe. Some ideas include:

•   Adding more sweet peppers

•   Adding sweet peppers at multiple stages of the process

•   Before the boil

•   At the end of the boil

•   In the primary fermenter

•   In the secondary fermenter

•   In the bottle!?

•   Pureeing the jalapeno (previously mentioned)

•   Experimenting with other chiles, instead of just adding sweet peppers to the jalapeno chiles

•   Adding capsaicin extract

The Recipe