Relax, Don’t Worry, Have a Homebrew

One man’s journey to create the perfect beer…

Coffee and beer? Coffee in Beer? Much Better

Posted by ebrius on January 16, 2009

Its been a while since I’ve posted (jeez, two months). Not much has changed since then, unfortunately I’ve had to put brewing on the backburner.

One thing that has changed is that I’ve bottled my Brown Ale and I just tried a bottle the other night. Something new that I decided to try was adding coffee at bottling, the results, less then impressive. This brings me to the topic of this post, coffee in beer.

There are several different ways to add coffee to beer, the ones that come to mind are: coffee flavor extract, fresh grounds, hot brewed coffee, cold brewed coffee, and espresso brewed. Now, I’ve tried or brewed beer with all this different forms of coffee (minus straight grounds), and some turn out better then others.
First, extract: This has to be one of the worst things I’ve tried, the extract was apparent and tasted very fake. Never, NEVER use coffee flavor extract, you will regret it.
Fresh Grounds: This is the one option I have not tried. I assume the flavor is very similar to cold brewed coffee. The thing with cold brewing is you are only supposed to keep the grounds in the water for about 12 hours. This is an option if you say, add the grounds to the primary or secondary 12-24 hours before you transfer it. Its hard to say how the PH and other properties of the beer will effect the flavor of the coffee, since coffee flavor is heavy influenced by the water used. I imagine, assuming the coffee flavor comes out properly, that this would create the best blend of beer and coffee flavoring
Hot Brewed: Adds the usual coffee flavor, depending on when this is added, it can either blend well with the beer or overpower it, this is simplest and safest way to add coffee
Cold Brewed: My personal favorite, this really allows the complexity of the coffee to come through (assuming you used good coffee). Because cold brewing creates very little bitterness, this can be used with basically any type of beer without overwhelming the beer
Espresso: The final option, and a pretty good one too. I wouldn’t recommend this for anything other then stouts and porters because of the strong flavor, but if you want something that says, BAM!, there isn’t a better option the espresso.

Next, when do you add the coffee? At the boil, primary, secondary, or at bottling? This, like any other ingredient, will have its flavor greatly effected by when its added.
At the boil: Not recommended, I have never tried this, but coffee tends to get bitter the longer it is brewed, so unless you plan to ‘perk’ some coffee grounds while boiling, this is not a good options. On a related note, I would never add straight grounds to the boil anyway.
Primary: This is a good option, it allows the flavors to blend well with the coffee, you tend to get more flavor and less aroma then you do when adding it to the secondary, but the difference isn’t very noticeable
Secondary: Also a good option, like I said, I haven’t noticed much of a difference between primary and secondary, its really a personal preference
Bottling: I tried this with my Brown Ale and I wasn’t very happy with the results, the beer tastes like beer with watered down coffee. It has started to get better with age, but I really don’t recommend it, primary and secondary additions are simply a superior method.

So, in conclusion, my personal favorite option is cold brewed coffee in the primary. But using anything other then extract and adding it to the primary or secondary will generally create a good coffee flavor. Do keep in mind what type of beer you are brewing, for example, I would not recommend adding espresso to an IPA, but adding some grounds to the secondary for an IPA could create an interesting flavor. One last thing to note is do use good coffee. Beans like Blue Mountain or Kona would probably be a little overkill, but don’t use generic, Price Chopper brand, $2 a pound coffee, you will taste the difference.

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Brown moved to secondary

Posted by ebrius on November 19, 2008

I moved my Brown Ale to my secondary container over the weekend, and even though the gravity reached about what I was expecting (~ 1.015), fermentation started up soon as I put the airlock in. This beer is probably going to be a little drier then I was expecting.

I took a taste of it and it was rather unremarkable. I’ve learned not to expect much before a beer bottle conditions, but I’ve been giving it some thought and I think I might brew up a pot of coffee and add it at bottling. It should add a unique flavor that should help differentiate this beer from your standard brown. I’m still deciding whether I want to cold brew or drip brew. Cold Brew has the advantage of not being bitter and allows you get a sweeter coffee flavor, but I don’t know if I want that for this beer.

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IPA take two

Posted by ebrius on November 17, 2008

Here’s what I think my next IPA is going to look like. It looks very similar to my last recipe, but I’ve decided to add some Centennial hops to mix things up a bit. This might see a little variation depending on how my current IPA ages:

Honorable East India Pale Ale

6lb    Extra Light Dry Malt Extract

1lb    Crystal 60L
.5lb   Crystal 40L
.5lb   Crystal 80L
.5lb   CaraPils

1oz    Cluster    @ 60
0.25oz Cascade    @ 40
0.25oz Columbus   @ 40
0.75oz Centennial @ 30
0.25oz Cascade    @ 20
0.25oz Columbus   @ 20
1oz    Cascade    @ 10
1oz    Cascade    @ DH
1.25oz Centennial @ DH

Yeast:
Wyeast Northwest Ale 1332

Other:
1 tsp Irish Moss @ 15

Priming Sugar:
Corn Sugar

Expected:
OG:  1.058
FG:  1.015
IBU: ~120
ABV: 5.5 %
SRM: 13

This beer ups the bitterness of my current IPA, switches around the hops a little bit, and makes it a little maltier. I won’t be brewing this one for a while, so hopefully when I do I’ll have a kegging system set up!

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IPA is good to go

Posted by ebrius on November 17, 2008

Even though my IPA had only been in the bottle for about a week, I couldn’t help myself and I tried a bottle. The results, amazing. The beer is a little cloudy, but not as bad as I expected. It has a nice rich head that I’m going to credit to the Crystal Malts I used, especially the Carapils. Not only does it look good, but it tastes good as well. The cascades immedienty assault your palete, with the columbus reinforcing them. The columbus and cluster add a nice bittering that is a little sweet as well. The next time I make this recipe, I think I’ll keep it mostly the same. I might add some sweeter crystal malts, and also maybe some Centennial hops as well.

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Busy day at the Brewery

Posted by ebrius on November 10, 2008

Saturday I spent about 5 hours in my kitchen taking care of some beer. I finally got my brown ale brewed, which turned out exactly how I wanted. It has the exact color I wanted and I hit my target gravity. I actually got a little higher then was expected, but that might have been caused by a minor grain bill change at the last minute. I don’t generally sample my wort before it starts fermenting, but the aroma was very pleasant and just what I was looking for, nutty with a very faint hint of coffee.

I also got my IPA bottled, which, to be perfectly honest, tasted kinda watery. I’m going to assume that is because it is still rather green and had priming sugar mixed with it and will taste better in a week or so.

The only bad news is I tried my Christmas ale again, and it isn’t much better then it was before. Its dark, but kinda watery, there is no head, and the ginger and cloves flavor is simply too overpowering. This is definitely one that will be sitting for a while, and will probably end up in loafs of bread more then anywhere else.

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New Fezziwig Ale, Take 3

Posted by ebrius on November 6, 2008

I tried my Christmas Ale again, and I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was simply too bitter, so I’ve decided to go in another direction, I guess this would be a mix between a sweet stout and a spiced ale.

Malt:
8lb   Light Dry Malt Extract
6oz   Lactose

1lb   Munich Light
.5lb  Canadian Honey Malt
.5lb  Crystal 40
.5lb  Crystal 80
.25lb Chocolate Malt

Hops:
1oz Fuggles         @ 60
1oz Northern Brewer @ 30
1oz Northern Brewer @ 10
1oz Saaz            @ DH

Steeped for 30 minutes after flame out:
5 Cinnamon Sticks
Orange Peels
1 Whole Nutmegs
1 tsb Allspice

Other:
2tbs Vanilla Extract @ Secondary
Handful of Oak Cubes soaked in bourbon, one week in secondary

Yeast:
Wyeast Scottish Ale 1728

I have plenty of time to continue to work on this recipe. I think I will let this one bottle condition for at least two months, so I probably should start it sometime in August. Plenty of time.

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Dry Yeast vs Liquid Yeast

Posted by ebrius on November 5, 2008

While I am by no means an expert with yeast, I feel that I have some valuable insights for anyone who is interested in brewing their own beer, or who is thinking about graduating from dry yeast and moving to liquid yeast. Here is a list of the pros and cons of each time, and why I think liquid yeast is superior.

Dry Yeast
Pros:
+No starter is necessary
+Risk of infection is less
+Taste is balanced
+Carbonation is quicker then liquid yeast
+Cost ($1 for a pack, as opposed to $5+ for liquid yeast)
Cons:
-Lack of control over flavor’s, flocculation, etc
-Yeasty taste is apparent

Liquid Yeast
Pros:
+Yeast provides no off flavors when used properly
+Flavor, flocculation, attenuation are all controllable
Cons:
-Starters take at least two days
-Infection is more likely since you need to grow the yeast
-Seems to take more time to carbonate a bottle then dry yeast
-Cost

With a little planning ahead and a little extra sanitation, there is no reason not to use liquid yeast. There are so many different types and each has its own specific characteristics. Dry yeasts are nice if you need yeast there and then, but other then that, liquid yeasts are superior in every way. They cost a little bit more, but they are simply a higher quality product. You can definitely make a good beer with dry yeast, but if you really want to control those subtle flavors that make a good beer great, you need to use liquid yeast.

Another thing is when using a dry yeast, I have never gotten down to my expected FG, but with liquid, I’ve hit it every time.

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More Beer Bread

Posted by ebrius on November 4, 2008

I decided to make another batch of bread. This time, I used my Christmas Ale. The results were good, but not as good as when i used my stout. The bread did not have as much flavor as the last one. The taste of the bread is definitely directly related to the maltiness of the beer used. It might have also had something to do with the chocolate and coffee in the stout, but either way, stronger beers definitely make better bread.

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Amazing Steak Marinate with Arrogant Bastard

Posted by ebrius on November 3, 2008

I found this great recipe online for a very tasty steak marinate, courtesy of Carolyn Smagalski.

Its a very simple recipe, just Arrogant Bastard, lemon juice, onion, and pepper, but the results are terrific. The arrogant bastard and onion flavors complement themselves very well, and the taste of the arrogant bastard is very apparent, which is a good thing.

For the cooking sauce, I improvised a little bit, I used the remaining bastard, my homemade BBQ sauce (this time with the onion powder) and some steak and Cajun seasonings. I ended up broiling this as apposed to cooking it on the grill, but it was still very good. I highly recommend trying this recipe, and marinating meat with beer in general.

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Next Time, Add The Onion Powder

Posted by ebrius on October 28, 2008

Further expanding my cooking with beer, I decided to make a BBQ sauce with beer. The recipe I started with was taken directly from Breckenridge Brewery’s Website:

  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup mustard
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup powdered onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup Breckenridge Oatmeal Stout

Since I didn’t have some of these ingredients, I modified it slightly, my recipe was as follows:

  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 tsb dry mustard
  • 2 tbsp White Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tsb Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsb garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsb salt
  • 1/4 tsb pepper
  • 1/2 cup Crazy Ivan Russian Stout

I brought this to a boil and then let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Once it cooled I added some corn starch to it and brought it to a boil again to thicken it. I then added it to a bag of chicken and let it marinate for about 30 minutes. I cooked the chicken in a large skillet with the sauce on top. Oddly, this sauce tasted like a bbq sauce before I cooked it, but it tasted more like a teriyaki sauce after. It was definitely very good, and the malty flavor of the beer was actually noticeable, I was very happy with it. I’ll probably pick up some onion powder and some chili sauce for the next time I make this, so it actually tastes like a BBQ sauce.

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