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Archive for the ‘Homebrews’ Category

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

Wyeast Northwest Ale 1332

1 tsp Irish Moss @ 15

Priming Sugar:
Corn Sugar

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.

8lb   Light Dry Malt Extract
6oz   Lactose

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

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

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

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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Discovered two things this weekend

Posted by ebrius on October 27, 2008

One, my stout tastes absolutely amazing when paired with an extra sharp cheddar.
Two, my Christmas Ale needs a lot more time to mellow. It basically tastes like ginger and cloves. Its not that bad per se, but it still needs a lot of time to develop. I hope it’s drinkable by Thanksgiving, because I believe it would go very good with some dark turkey meat. If the cloves and ginger don’t end up mellowing, I’ll probably limit the ginger in the next brew and drop the cloves.

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Brown or Barleywine?

Posted by ebrius on October 24, 2008

I need to figure out which one I want to brew next. On one hand, I like barleywines more the brown ales, but on the other hand, the barleywine will take at least 4 months to be drinkable, probably longer. If we say the barleywine will be ready in about 4 months, it won’t be drinkable until March/April, which, in my opinion, isn’t really the season for barleywine. I could of course just get another carboy and keep the barley wine in that for longer, and let it bottle age for a while. We’ll have to see, the brown will probably come next, and I’ll brew the barleywine some time around January or February.

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Review: Crazy Ivan Russian Imperial Stout

Posted by ebrius on October 22, 2008

My Stout has been aging for about three weeks now, so I figured it was time for a proper review, mostly so I remember how the recipe turned out, but also for anyone interested in replicating my success/failure.

Appearance) Dark as midnight with a small brown head. Head dissipated quickly.

Aroma) Coffee and chocolate, slight alcohol aroma, Slightly yeasty

Taste) Bam, chocolate and coffee, as with the odor, very little bitterness, actually, very sweet and almost chewy. Finishes with an alcohol taste and a sweet aftertaste.

Mouthfeel) Chewy and lightly carbonated. Very smooth.

Overall, I am very happy with this beer. Could use a little more bitterness. Next time I will probably add more bittering hops, and some aroma as well. I’ll stick with adding the coffee, but I might only do it in the primary. I’ll also make sure to use liquid yeast. Probably also some more black patent to make this a very strong and unique stout.

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IPA into the secondary

Posted by ebrius on October 21, 2008

I was originally not going to move my IPA to a secondary, but I figured after I forgot to add Irish Moss it wouldn’t be a half bad idea. I moved it yesterday and added some Goldings hops to it. I tried a sample before I moved it and it tasted very good. Aroma was amazing and the bitterness was about were I wanted it. The flavor was a little weak, but it was a warm unaged beer, so I think it will get better. Next time I will probably add more flavoring hops.

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