Jungle Lust Part 4: Final Tasting

After a couple of weeks in bottles, it was time to see what I had wrought.

Appearance:  Pretty much black.  The beer is carbonated and there is a head on the pour, but it quickly dissipates due to residual oil in the beer contributed by the coconut.  I had read about this happening with those who’ve tried using coconut in beer, so this is no real surprise.  Also, some tiny bits of coconut had escaped my paint strainer bag and into the bottled beer.  So at least I can point to that as proof that I used real coconut in this.  But they are so small, you can see them but you can’t feel them in your mouth.

Aroma:  Nice chocolate and coconut undertones coming in with the roastiness of the malt.  Very pleasant.  The solvent/rubbing alcohol aroma had subsided.

Taste:  As with most beers, the taste follows the aroma.  Familiar roast malt profile from my base porter recipe, but the chocolate comes through assertively and the coconut was subtle but noticeable in my early tastings. However, the coconut has totally fallen off in a matter of a week.  The solvent flavor has retreated but you can still detect a little bit on the back end.  But it doesn’t prevent me from enjoying it.  The half pound of lactose has also dialed in a nice level of sweetness to it.

Mouthfeel:  Nice medium mouthfeel, and luckily there is no oily slickness from the coconut.  When I conceptualized this beer, I was thinking of a more velvelty, viscous mouthfeel, which I didn’t attain.  But still not bad.

Aside from the residual solvent note which ended up at a lower drinkable level, I’m kind of pleased with how this came out for a first try.  I was hyper critical when I had my first bottle.  But now as another week has gone by, I’ve had a few more and I’m finding it very drinkable and delicious despite the coconut falling off rather rapidly.  I may consider foregoing the real coconut and just add some coconut flavoring next time around. I do find myself looking forward to the next bottle.  This is the opposite of the bourbon porter I made last year that I still have a good amount of.  That one was not a badly made beer and I know some who really like it, but the taste profile does not click with me and I just don’t enjoy drinking it.  But this coconut porter? Yeah.. I dig it.
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Jungle Lust Part 3: Bottling

As luck would have it, the time that I decide to document the making of a beer, there is a possible issue.  But it can be looked an opportunity to learn and share, if I can ultimately determine the cause.  And that’s a big if.  After a week in secondary and soaking the coconut and cacoa nibs in the porter, it was time to bottle.  I did happen take a taste test 2 days in, and it tasted pretty good but the coconut was subtle.  So I let it ride for the remainder of the week.  Prior to transferring the beer to my bottling bucket, I took another taster sample.  There was a prominent “hot solventy” off flavor.  This surprised me quite a bit because the beer tasted great going into secondary (even two days into secondary).  So if something went wrong, it was somewhere in the process after primary.  Zeroing in on that, here are the possible culprits and my current thoughts about each of them.

Autosiphon/tubing:  I’ve used this thing so many times without issue, there is little to no chance this was the cause.

Home Depot 5 gallon paint bucket:  I’ve used this bucket as a secondary vessel for 3 previous batches of different beers with no issue.  It got a fresh cleaning and sanitization before this batch’s use.

Cacao nibs:  In general, there is no way to sanitize cacao nibs and I’ve used them in the past as is.  It has never been an issue, much like the thousands of homebrewers out there that also use nibs.

Coconut: This was an ingredient that I’ve had no prior experience with in homebrewing.  Toasting it did heat the coconut to a great degree which should in theory kill off most of what may be naturally living on it.  Also, I’ve read that various well experienced homebrewers have used coconut in primary or secondary with no issues.

5 gallon paint strainer bag (from Lowes):  These are made of nylon and my thought was that this may have been the most probable candidate.  Maybe there was some sort of chemical extraction going on with the nylon and alcohol.  Or maybe soaking the bag in starsan (an acid) partially broke down the nylon in a non-visually obvious way.  But again, I’ve read in forums of a number of homebrewers using these bags on post-fermentation beer and none reporting issues.  But a lot of them were just using them as filters when they transferred their beer off the trub, which would not be a lot of contact time, whereas mine was 7 days.  So it’s a possibility this may have been the culprit.  Plus a lot of the off flavor guides out there do not attribute solvent flavors to infection.  Usually it’s due to warm fermentation temps or stressed yeast.  But this problem did not show up at the end of primary.   So a chemical extraction would make more sense.

So at the moment there is uncertainty, both due to the cause and the salvageability of the batch.  I decided to bottle it anyway in hopes that the off flavor will recede and, given enough time, the beer will meld together.  So in two weeks, I’ll crack one open and see what’s up.  If anybody out there has had a similar experience or thoughts on this, comment away.

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Jungle Lust Part 2: Secondary

After two weeks in primary fermentation, it was time to transfer the porter to a secondary container and add the coconut and cacao nibs.  The nibs are organic ecuador nibs that I got from the homebrew shop.  I acquired the unsweetened coconut from Whole Foods.

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But first I had to check out how the porter was so far.  Gravity reading was 1.023, which brings the ABV to 6.4%, which is right about on target.  Taste wise, it was pretty good.  Solid roast with a bit of sweetness like I wanted.  Mouthfeel was medium, so it had a little body to it.  It would be great as a standalone porter  without further treatment.  I intend to do that in the future.  But not now.  I transferred the beer via autosiphon  to a clean, sanitized 5 gallon bucket.

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To prep the coconut, I lined a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spread out a little over a pound of the coconut on it.  I lowered the oven rack and set it to low broil.  Then I toasted the coconut (with oven door ajar) for about 5 minutes.  Then I stirred up the coconut with a spatula to expose the untoasted layers and let it toast for another two minutes.  Just so it had a golden color.

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I sanitized a 5 gallon paint strainer bag in Starsan (the same type that I use to brew with), then put the toasted coconut and 4 oz of cacao nibs in it and tied off the bag.  Then I put it in the beer, sealed the bucket and that’s it.  So far, I think I’m on the right track.  I’m going to take a sample in two days to make sure I don’t overdo the flavors, because I have no idea how fast the beer will extract the coconut flavor.  Until next time.

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Jungle Lust Part 1: Brew Day

It’s been a while since I’ve done a recipe based post.  But I’m working on a new beer and thought it would be a good one to document how I’m doing it.  Flavoring beer with adjuncts (cacoa nibs, peanut butter, coconut, citrus peels, etc) can be challenging.  It’s hard to gauge how much and for how long in order to get the flavor you want.  You don’t want it to be so subtle that it’s almost non-existent, but going way overboard can be worse, rendering an otherwise fine beer almost undrinkable.  I’m a sweet tooth, chocolate candy kind of guy.  I just finished a milk stout that kind of met that need.  But I want more.   So I’m going all Mounds on this one and doing a chocolate coconut porter (the title of this post is my tentative name for it).  I’ve taken the base recipe of my Night’s King Bourbon Porter (sans wood and bourbon of course) and tweaked it a bit to get some more sweetness into it.  I’m adding a 1/2 pound of lactose to sweeten it, flaked oats to create a fuller mouthfeel and some roasted barley to give a little chocolate/coffee aroma.  Then I’m going to add cacoa nibs and toasted unsweetened coconut to secondary for about a week to round it off.  I’m treading a fine line here between a porter and stout.  But historically all porters were stouts, but not all stouts were porters.  So I don’t think I’m committing any heresy here.

I got this idea from Funky Buddha’s Last Snow coffee coconut porter.  There’s been a lot of raving about it and I got to taste it a month ago at a Brass Tap.  It was ok but I was anticipating it to be something more.  The coconut was there, but it didn’t have that luxurious dessert feel that I wanted and the mouthfeel was thin.  That’s what’s great about being a homebrewer.  If something isn’t out there and readily available that you want to drink, you can brew it yourself to your exact liking …..hopefully.

Chocolate Coconut Porter

5 Gallons, BIAB,  OG: 1.068

67.1% Maris Otter

6.7% Light Wheat

6.7% Chocolate Malt

3.4% Roasted Barley

3.4% Dark Crystal 80

2.6% Black Patent

6.7% Flaked Oats

3.4% (1/2 lb) Lactose Powder (added 10 min left in the boil)

Strike Water:  5 gallons

Mash:  154 F for 60 minutes

Sparge:  2.4 gallons at 170 F

Boil:  60 min (0.7 oz Chinook @ 60min, 0.5 oz East Kent Goldings @ 15 min and 5 min)

Yeast:  Fermentis Safale US-04 (no starter)

Primary Fermentation:  2 weeks

Brew day went smoothly and I’m in first week of primary.  I keep the fermentor at about 68F for the first week and let it rise up to ambient (74 F) in the final week.  The next step will be adding the nibs and coconut to secondary, which will be part 2.

 

 

Tampa Bay Beer Week 2016

I’ve been muttering to myself, wondering when I’d write another blog post.  It’s like that term paper with which you keep proscrastinating.  This week is Tampa Bay Beer Week and it started off as it always does, with a big ass beer festival, the Florida Brewer’s Guild Craft Beer Festival more specifically.  Over 55 breweries, over 250 beers and a beautiful March Saturday.  I tried about 32 different beers which is right about on par with last year.  Standouts were a vanilla cinnamon IPA from Wynwood Brewing ( I think),  Cigar City’s Marshal Zhukov,  Southern Brewing’s Pointillist Sour IPA and Six Ten’s oud bruin (sour brown).  Marker 48 gets honorable mention for a barrel aged milk stout.  The wife couldn’t make it due to a conflicting extracurricular school activity, so my father-in-law stepped in.  It was his first beer festival and probably not his last.

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Next weekend, I decided to contribute to  beer week in my own little way by hosting a Pride Craft Brewery open house for family and friends.  We expect about 25 people.  Despite the lack of posts, I’ve been brewing twice a month and I’ve got four batches ready plus some older holdovers from late last year.  Three of the batches are first run recipes:

Number Six Pale Ale:  brewed with 20% rye, hopped with simcoe and amarillo.  This did not turn out very hoppy but I’m happy with the present but understated bitterness.    Has a really nice flavor and the rye comes through.  I think it will appeal to a broad audience.

Savanna Saison:  a semi-clone of Boulevard’s Tank 7.  Not as earthy and spicy as I’d hoped but it’s a zippy little saison that’s clean, citrusy with a little bit of pepper on the end.  By the way, Wyeast 3711 French Saison is a total beast.  Every beer I’ve used it on has tore through the sugars to make a dry FG of 1.001….every single time.  This one was no different.

Quantum Deep Milk Stout:  a semi-clone of Left Hand Milk Stout.  Sweetness is nice and the coffee aroma just from the roasted barley (no coffee added) is just heavenly.   Very pleased.

I also have Witty Kitty Witbier, Night’s King Bourbon Porter and a small amount of Left Nut Brown and the kriek that I brewed last year (for the adventurous).

So there it is, my first post of 2016.  See you in the fall 😉

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Trouble in Porter Paradise

The Rollin’ Barrel Bourbon Porter had been in bottle conditioning for two weeks and I decided to refrigerate one and have a taste.  I had previously posted that the taste test on bottling day revealed a strong alcohol heat.  Too much and I thought that carbonation and refrigeration would moderate it.  Well it didn’t.  And as I was drinking the beer, I started second guessing whether what I was tasting was indeed an overbearing bourbon alcohol heat or if it was an astringency.  But I wasn’t sure.  I had tasted the batch prior to racking to secondary and  adding the bourbon and oak chips and didn’t taste anything similar to that.  So I’m a bit stumped because I added the same amount of bourbon, concentration wise, as the first time I brewed it years ago.  That first batch came out beautifully.  However there are some differences between the two batches.

Bourbon:  Then-  used Jim Beam Black label,    now-  used Jim Beam white label   (I find it hard to believe that would make a difference)

Oak chips:  Then-  used 2 oz of untoasted chips that I toasted myself in the oven,  now- used 4oz  heavy toasted chips, already toasted when bought.  (So I used twice the amount this time and it was a different product, but I used the same amount and same chip product in my 2B’s bourbon ale recently and the beer came out great)

Chips in bourbon soak time:  Then – 4 days,  now- 7 days

Time in secondary:  Then-  4 days,  now- 7 days

I wouldn’t think that any of these differences alone would make such a jarring difference or maybe there’s a cumulative effect going on.  However, I’m stumped and a bit disappointed.  If any of you out there have any suggestions or thoughts, I’d love to hear it.

UPDATE:  I had told my girlfriend Erika about the issue with my porter over the past few days, but she hadn’t tasted it yet.  So when she came home last night, I had a glass poured.  I told her that this was the troubled porter.  I said, “Give this a taste and just tell me your first thought about it.”  She took a sip and said,  “Wood.”   So the verdict:  The oak chips  (too many, maybe too heavily toasted, soaked for too long).  Next time I’m just going to mimic to a T what I did during the first batch I made that I loved so much.

Brewing, racking, bottling

The brewery has been very active this past weekend.   Three beers, three different stages.  I brewed and racked on Friday and bottled on Sunday.

Brew Day-  The Sleeper Imperial Stout

This is essentially my second crack at an imperial stout.  My first was a few months ago with Quantum Deep.  But that was before I really discovered my actual brewhouse efficiency (about 60%), fell woefully short of my target ABV and essentially ruined it by adding coffee beans to my secondary.  It was a mess all around but I learned some important stuff from that fiasco.  So I’ve modified some things, renamed it and and I was ready to go again.

The Sleeper Imperial Stout (2.5 gallon BIAB)

Fermentables:

7.5 lbs Briess Pale Ale Malt

0.25 lbs Roasted Barley

0.25 lbs Briess Black Malt

0.25 lbs Crisp Pale Chocolate

0.25 lbs Crisp Crystal 60

1.0 lbs Light DME (added after boil start)

0.5 lbs Light Brown Sugar (added 12 min left in boil)

0.5 lbs Lactose (added 12 min left in boil)

Mash:  90 min @ 151 F

Sparge: 1 gallon @ 170F

Boil: 60 min

Hops:

0.75 oz Summit (60 min)

0.25 oz Summit (10 min)

0.5 oz Cascade (flameout)

Yeast:  Wyeast London ESB 1968

Because I’m using some DME, this isn’t technically “all grain”.  But it is the only way that I can boost my OG to the level I need with my current equipment.  The brown sugar is there to help also.  I usually prefer to use dry yeast whenever possible because it’s easier to use, it’s much cheaper and I’ve made very good beers with them.  I was originally going to use US-04 for this but my LHBS was inexplicably out.  They’ve been having some inventory issues lately.  So the Wyeast 1968 was the best substitute.   But I’m a little concerned that it won’t get the batch as dry as I need it to be.  So I plan on seeing where my gravity is after two weeks and if needed (which I assume it will be needed), I’ll rack it to secondary and pitch another pack of yeast to keep it moving.  This is also my first time using a blow off tube because I expect this to be a very active fermentation.  I got through the initial couple days of bubbling fury and everything was contained thankfully.

Stats:

OG:  1.108 (target), 1.096 (actual) I’ll need another 1 lb of DME next time, but I’m still within imperial range.

IBU:  92.46

SRM: 40

Estimated Target ABV 9%.

Imperial Ingredients  Imperial Mash  Imperial Wort

Imperial Primary

Rollin’ Barrel Racking

I racked the bourbon porter onto the oak chips and bourbon.  Gravity reading before the bourbon was 1.022 which makes it about 5.7%.  The bourbon is calculated to add another 1% to that.  The porter will sit in secondary for 7 days before being bottled.

Barrel Primary  Barrel Secondary  Barrel FG

Witty Kitty Witbier

Erika’s witbier has been in primary for 14 days.  Taste test was excellent and FG was 1.003!!!  That’s dry.  Brewer’s Friend calculated it going down to only 1.012.  So the yeast, for whatever reason, went hog wild and we are looking at an ABV of  6.6% instead of the anticipated  4.5%     The yeast has definitely hazed up the beer, which is desirable and it does have that unique belgian flavor imparted by the yeast and the spiciness due to the coriander.  Bottling yielded 18 12 oz bottles and one 16 oz PET.  Erika looks pretty happy.

Witty Racking  Witty Bottling  Witty Taste Test  Witty batch

Next Friday I’m making a small batch of cream ale for Amy, co-proprietor of 2B’s, and bottling the bourbon porter.  It’ll be another busy day.  But I love it.