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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Getting a little Buzzzzzzz

Coffee Porter Recipe:

It may still be hot; we are forecasted to hit almost 100 degrees tomorrow, but its time to start getting fall and winter beers ready. It is going to be cold out before you know it and you’ll want nice rich malty beers to warm up with. Porters and Stouts are great styles to experiment with adding strong flavored ingredients to, like coffee, vanilla beans, and licorice, of chocolate. This post will cover brewing with coffee.

Coffee has a very delicate aroma and rich flavor that can vary depending on the variety of coffee bean used. The first task is to find the flavor you want. If you regularly drink coffee you’ll likely already know what you prefer. If you don’t you may want to try several different types of coffee. While this isn’t a post about coffee, roast levels, or variety of bean it is important to know about these things.  I’ll keep it simple with this, the darker the roast the most bitter the flavor. Also, fresher is better, grinding your own beans or at least grinding in the store is better than buying pre-ground beans. Many coffee connoisseurs will want to disagree or expand on this over simplification so I encourage any one not familiar with coffee to do a little research first. Personally, I prefer a medium roasted Guatemalan bean when brewing with coffee. This is a low acidic and flavorful option that does not impart too much bitterness. The darker coffee roasts or certain varieties of beans can impart more bitterness and will require you to adjust either the hops or the malts used.

Now lets get that coffee into the beer! You have several options on how to do this and I’ve tried them all. You can add grounds to your mash if you all grain brew or to your specialty grains if you extract brew. One problem with this is that you lose much of the aroma during the boil and add a lot of bitterness. If you add the ground coffee at flame out you tend to lose the aroma during fermentation but can be left with a rich coffee flavor. You can also simple brew a pot of coffee (or even espresso if you want) and add directly to bottles, kegs, or the fermentor post primary fermentation.

The most successful I’ve been is making a “cold brew” coffee and adding that at bottling or kegging time. Cold brewed coffee tends to be less bitter and more flavorful than coffee made is a normal drip coffee maker. To make cold brew coffee use about 1/3 cup coffee to 1-cup water.  Combine coffee grounds and water in a mason jar or French press coffee maker and stir well. Then let it sit at room temperature for a minimum of 8 hours to as long as 24 hours. Normally I’ll set up the coffee to brew overnight the night before I plan to coffee to a beer. I usually make a light 4-cup (1 1/3 cups coffee to 4 cups of water) batch of coffee for a light to medium bodied beer or a 10-cup batch for a fuller bodied or more flavorful beer. 

A cold weather recipe I brew every winter is a Coffee Porter. This is a very simple, full-bodied, rich Robust Porter and uses a 4-cup cold brew coffee.

Use 8 lbs. Light Malt extract, .5 lb. chocolate malt,  .5 lb. Black Patent malt (don’t mill), .25 lb. Honey malt, .25 lb. Victory malt. .75 oz. Willamette hops at 60 min., 1 oz Willamette at 30 and 1 oz Willamette hops at 10 min. Add cold brewed coffee after primary fermentation or at bottle/kegging time. Ferment with a clean American Ale yeast.

All Grain:
Replace LME with about 12 lbs. American two-row malt. Shoot for an O.G. of about 1.050. Mash at a medium temperature of 152 to 154.

I recommend that when using Black Patent malt, to not mill. Just use the malt whole and unmilled. This is due to the overly kilned nature of black patent. It normally just crumbles in the mill and can add astringent mouth feel or puckering bitterness to the beer. By leaving the malt unmilled you get the color from the malt and a little of the flavor with out any side affects. This will mean you need to use a little more than usual but I feel the benefits are well worth the few extra pennies.

I’m planning on brewing this one up this weekend so that it’ll be ready in time for fall weather but this time my wife has demanded I add vanilla beans to the mix. I’ve got two Mexican vanilla beans that I’ll be adding like a dry hop. It should be fun! I’ve never used real vanilla beans before.

1 comment:

Brett Begani said...

Adding a couple notes:
Coffee in the secondary (rough grind) will impart the nose and flavor without very much bitterness. Plus this way you can taste the beer every day to find the right level of coffee flavor without guessing at it.
Local coffee roasters are a great option if you've got the money, since you know it will be fresh and full of flavor, just spendy.
If I add pre-brewed coffee to the wort or secondary I try and lower the bitter hop addition as brewed coffee adds a lot of its own to the final product. The biggest mistake I see even in commercial coffee beers is this over-bitter flavor that makes me dislike them quite a bit.
If you are feeling adventurous, read back to the previous article on barrel aging, as dark roasted coffee porters and stouts stand up very well to the complementary flavors of oak.
As for the Black patent malt, I do grind mine separately from the other malts and I double grind it for an almost flour like consistency. But I add it to my mash right at the end before I start to sparge. This allows the color to infuse without the bitterness taking root in the flavor profile. For extract I would use a couple cups of wort (or hot water) and make a one minute tea then strain out the grain bits. Again, color and flavor without the astringency.