It’s party time! Kristen turns 30 this year, and we decided to have a bunch of family and friends over to celebrate. That also means that I need three full kegs of beer that will please a crowd. I tend to save the hoppier beers for last, so that means something dark or malty is first. I flipped through my past recipes until I found a Chocolate Coffee Stout that I brewed three years ago. I remembered this beer being very well received at the time, so it seemed like a great recipe for the party.
Just like every recipe, they’re never perfect. It’s always fun to get to revisit a beer you brewed years ago to see what you were thinking at the time, and decide what you would do differently now. My notes from 2013 said the beer didn’t have enough chocolate aroma, and wasn’t quite malty enough. So I kept the changes small and simple, and thus the grain bill looks pretty close. I added in a sizable amount of Munich malt to help contribute some maltiness, and cut the 20min hop addition out of the recipe. I also added 50% more cacao nibs than I did last time, and I raised the mash temp to 155F in the attempt in amp up the dextrines. As for the change in yeast, it was done out of laziness. This is a 12 gallon batch, and I didn’t have enough time to culture up enough liquid yeast to use my favorite WLP090.
This brew day went really smooth. I thought I was going to run out of propane, but I chanced it and everything was fine. It took a good year to get comfortable brewing at the new house, but I’m finally starting to hit my stride again. Although, I’m planning on building a new brew stand sometime in the near future, so it’s short lived. I mashed in at 155 without much fuss, and held it for 60 minutes before sparging and boiling for 60 minutes as well. Whirlfloc went in with 15 minutes left, and I started chilling this batch immediately after flameout. Thanks to the new counterflow chiller, I was able to fill my two fermenters in under 30 minutes, which is a huge improvement. I pitched one-and-a-half packets of yeast into each fermenter, which were rehydrated in 90F water. After that I sealed up the fermenters, and dropped them in the fermenter fridge at 17.2C. Fermentation followed my usual schedule of ramping the temperatures up every couple of days until I hit 19.5C by the end of fermentation.
1lb Roasted Barley
1lb Carafa III Special
1lb English Medium Crystal
Mash @ 155F
US05 – 3 packs (1.5 per fermenter)
2oz Cold Steeped Coffee per fermenter
6oz Cacao Nibs per fermenter
After fermentation was complete, I added the cacao nibs directly into each fermenter, and allowed them to hang out for a week before crashing the fermenters. Cold crashing is good for more than just getting yeast or hops to drop out of solution. It does a great job of getting racking-cane-clogging nibs to drop. Other than that, this was a pretty simple brew. Once the beers were kegged I added gelatin carbonation, and that was it.
After a week on tap there was adequate carbonation, and after about two and a half weeks this beer was tasting exactly where it should. This beer looks beautiful in the glass. It’s pitch black with a creamy tan head that lasts throughout the pint. The aroma is dominated by coffee and chocolate. There’s little malt to speak of when you smell it, and absolutely no hop aroma. It smells creamy, very much like a mocha. The body is medium-full, it’s chewy, but not as much as an imperial stout. This beer drinks similar to how it smells; the coffee and chocolate flavors hit you first followed by lots of roasted malts. The finish is smooth and full. I’ll be honest, I was a little worried this beer wasn’t bitter enough when I first put it in the keg. It drank a little on the sweet side when it was flat, but now that’s it’s fully carbonated it’s not as noticeable. That is probably the one change I would make to this recipe next time though. I’ll likely add around 10-12% more bittering hops on the next iteration.
That’s about it for now. I’ll have two more party beers posted shortly. Cheers!