Tasting chocolatastic Porter

It’s been more than a year since we decided to brew a couple of beers including a cocoa tablet from raw cocoa beans. Both of them were Porters, Tangerine Porter and the one we are focusing on this entry, Cholatastic Porter.

We designed a recipe with ingredients usually found in this English style and we did a little research about the amount of cocoa we should add to make a considerable impact in the final beer. In addition, we added some cinnamon and vanilla to increase the notion of sweetness, being also both of these flavors usually associated with chocolate.

Chocolatastic Porter

The final beer has a deep amber colour, quite clear, with a nice beige foam with medium-high retention.

In aroma, cocoa and cinnamon have the lead role (with the latest losing intensity with time, giving more cocoa presence). There is also some hints of toasted malts, raisins and biscuit. There is no signs of hops or fermentation, being a quite clean beer in that aspect.

Flavour shows some of the same characteristics found in aroma. Cocoa and especially cinnamon are very prominent. Some biscuit touches and some coffee and roasted flavors from dark malts. It’s quite clean regarding fermentation and, although there is no hop flavour, there is a noticeable bitterness. Regardless this bitterness, possibly in the highest limit for a classic Porter, lactose gives some sweetness that in a way balances the bitterness. There is no sign of vanilla.

Despite having lactose and finishing at 1.017, it has medium body and the mouthfeel is dryer than expected having into account the ingredients and process of brewing. Maybe a carbonation higher than the one the guidelines show for this style has something to do with this.

We are quite satisfied for the first beer we brewed using a cocoa tablet made from raw cocoa beans. Although cocoa is evident, for future brews using this ingredient, I would probably toast the cocoa raw beans during more time or at a higher temperature to give even a more powerful cocoa flavour. I would also lower the amount of cinnamon and increase vanilla to make it perceptible. Other possible changes for the recipe would include a reduction of the bitterness and, maybe, increase lactose a little bit to make the beer smoother and with more body, increasing the sweetness that could help with the cocoa flavour. All in all, it has been a great experience and the beer was quite tasty (I especially liked it more when some time passed and the cinnamon was less evident). The people who tasted also seemed to like it (at least that what they said, although I guess you never know).


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Fruit Gose – Part 2/2 – Adding fruit

We’re back with the second part of our gose with fruit, just from where we left, when Safale K-97 was finishing the fermentation, 6 days after pitching after fermenting with Lactobacillus which lowered the pH to 3.30. In that entry, we also posted a picture with the fruits we were going to use, pomegranates, blackberries and pineapples.

Blackberries, grenades and a couple of pineapples ready for our gose

After fermenting the gose base beer, we ended with a little less than 15 liters (3.96 gallons), which we divided in three PET bottles where we would add the fruits. Evidently, these PET bottles were previously sanitized. Densidy was 1.010 at that moment, probably the fermentation was not totally finsished.

In this entry we will focus in how we added each fruit and the process it followed until we bottled the beers. For now on, we will refer to the three different gose as Gosegra (with pomegranates), Gosemo (with blackberries) and Gosepi (with pineapples).

Thawed blackberries

We’re going to go first with the addition of the blackberries for our Gosemo. The blackberries we used, about 630 g (1.39 oz), have been picked two months ago and from then on they had been in the freezer. As we were going to do all the process in the afternoon, we take out the blackberries from the freezer in the morning to give them time to thaw. In this case, apart from keeping the fruit in the freezer, the processing was none. We just added the blackberries to the bottom of a PET bottle and then we siphoned carefully about 5.5 liters (1.45 gallons) of the base gose beer.

Grenade grains (left) and boiling the pomegranate molasses

In the case of pomegranates, the process was more complex. Instead of adding them directly, we decided to make pomegranate molasses, a typical ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking. We thought this could be a good way for the pomegranates to impart their flavor to the beer. To do this, first we seeded 6 pomegranates and then we got the juice from a squeezer, obtaining about 1 liter (0.26 gallons) of pomegranate juice. We simmered this juice with the juice from one lemon and 100 g (3.53 oz) of table sugar for 45-50 minutes. Then we let it cool and we transferred it to a PET bottle just before adding about 4 liters (1.06 gallons) of the base gose beer.

Fruit added to the PET bottles before transferring the gose base beer

It was time for Gosepi, which was going have pineapple added. In particular, pineapple juice. We squeezed two pineapples to get a little bit more than 1 liter (0.26 gallons) of pineapple juice. We didn’t use all this volume and instead we added 850 mL (0.22 gallons) to the PET bottle. Finally, as we did for the two other beers, the last thing we did was to transfer the base beer to the PET bottle, about 4.5 liters (1.19 gallons) for Gosepi.

After filling the three PET bottles with base beer, we put a cap with an airlock in each one of them and we put them in the fermentation chamber, set at 18ºC (64.4ºF), so the yeast could ferment the extra sugars from the fruits we had just added. We were left over with 1 liter (0.26 gallons) of the gose base beer that we transferred to a 1.5 liters (0.40 gallons) PET bottle and carbonated with a carbonator cap to taste it. It was a pitty that we didn’t take a picture of it so you could see the aspect of this base beer. A nice golden colour, maybe a little bit sourer than the first gose we brewed, although it was a pleasant sourness, nothing too aggressive, very drinkable.

Final fermentation after adding fruit. Gosemo (bottom left), Gosepi (bottom right) and Gosegra (top right)

Next morning, 9-10 hours after mixing fruit and gose base beer, fermentation activity was obvious in the three bottles. In each one of them an increasing krausen was forming. The following days those krausen got smaller until they disappeared. After 5 days, it looked like fermentation was over, so we decided to bottle next morning. So 6 days passed from the day we added the fruit until the day we bottled.

After cleaning and sanitizing the bottles and bottling material, we used some free time while we were brewing another beer to bottle these three beers. Gosepi and Gosemo were quite clear, whereas Gosegra had a hazier and milky aspect.

Gosepi, Gosemo and Gosegra before bottling

We took a gravity reading and we got a little surprise. While Gosepi and Gosemo had the final gravity we expected, 1.008, Gosegra had a final gravity of 1.016. We don’t know what could have caused this difference. Maybe fermentation had stopped in this beer due to an unknown problem? Was the pomegranate molasses too hot when we added them? We didn’t have time, and although we knew we had some risk of over carbonation with this beer, we decide to bottle it. In the case of Gosegra, we added some of the yeast cake from Gosepi, just in case the problem was the yeast.

With this problem in our heads, we added enough sugar syrup to get 2.6 volumes of CO2 for Gosemo and Gosepi and just half of it for Gosegra, to try to avoid an over carbonation if the fermentation was no finished. The more logical and reasonable thing to do was to wait some time, but unfortunately that was not possible, so we crossed our fingers.

Finally we got 15 33 cL (12 oz) bottles of Gosemo, 14 33 cL (12 oz) bottles of Gosepi and 11 33 CL (12 oz) bottles of Gosegra, all of them with an ABV of a little bit more than 4%. We will let you know how they ended soon.

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Fruit Gose – Part 1/2 – Base beer

Time to get back to sour beers. As the result for our first sour beer, a gose with apricots, was more than satisfactory we decided to brew something similar, but more volume this time. As we’ve already told you, we like gose more when it is combined with fruit. Since we were brewing more volume, we would be able to try different fruits with an initial base beer. To not make this entry too long, in this first part we’ll tell you about brewing the base beer, a quite standard gose beer. In the second part we’ll talk you about the fruits we chose and how we added them to the beer.

For this brew we used for the first time an electric kettle we purchased from another fellow brewer from the ACCE (Spanish Howebrewer Association). It is a 40 L Royal Catering with a PID controller and a recirculation system.

Mashing in our new brewing system

To prepare the recipe we decide to go with something very similar to what we did in our first gose beer, changing only the origin of the malts, and adjusting everything for a bigger volume. Everything except a little detail, salt and coriander, whose amount we dind’t modify in the initial writing of the recipe by mistake. We noticed it when we cooled the beer after acidification with Lactobacillus and after pitching yeast. We left coriander as it was, but in the case of salt, we tried to fix it adding the missing amount (6 g, 0.21 oz) directly to the fermenter. Below you can check the recipe and process summary for the base gose beer.


1.80 Kg (3.97 lbs) (57.1%) wheat malt (Weyermann) (3.0 EBC)
1.35 Kg (2.98 lbs) (42.9%) Pilsen malt (Grannaria) (5.0 EBC)
8.00 g (0.28 oz) Hallertauer Tradition (6.70% AA) leaf (boil 55 minutes, 8.1 IBUs)
3.00 g (0.11 oz) table salt (sodium chloride) and 3.00 (0.11 oz) g coriander seeds (boil 10 minutes) + 6.00 g (0.21 oz) of table salt (sodium chloride) directly to the fermenter after pitching yeast
Sour Pitch from Lallemand (Lactobacillus Plantarum). 3.3 g (0.12 oz) dispersed in a small volume of wort . Before pitching Lactobacillus the wort was boiled for 10-15 minutes for sterilization, then was cooled to 40ºC (104.0ºF) and preacidified with lactic acid until it reached a pH of approximately 4.5. Fermented for 24 hours at 37,5ºC (99.5ºF) and another 24 hours at 30ºC (86.0ºF). After 48 hours pH was 3.30.
Safale K-97  (1 sachet, previously rehydrated). Fermented after boiling and cooling after Lactobacillus fermentation. Fermentation temperature around 19-20ºC (66-68ºF)
Volume: 15.50 L (3.41 gallons)     OG: 1.041     FG: 1.009     ABV: 4.3%     IBUs: 8.1     Color: 6.5 EBC     BU/GU: 0.195     Efficiency: 65.00%
Ca: 111 pm; Mg: 3 ppm; Na: 7 ppm; SO4: 132 ppm; Cl: 140 ppm
 60 minutes at 66ºC (ºF)
55 minutes

Sour pitch and Safale K-97, the fermentation couple for this gose

We started the brew day boiling water to remove chlorine in the morning. In the afternoon, to shoot for a mash pH of about 5.35 (according to Bru’n Water) and to get the water profile shown above, we added 58.8 mL (1.99 oz) of sulfuric acid and 4.7 g (0.17 oz) of calcium chloride to 23.85 L (5.25 gallons) of water. After adding grain when water was at 68.7ºC (20.4ºF), we set the PID controller to 66ºC (150.8ºF) for an hour. All this time we kept the pump recirculating the wort. After this, pre-boil gravity was 1.035 (theoretical value: 1.031). We remove the bag with the grains and we boiled the wort for about 15 minutes to sterilize it before pitching Lactobacillus. It was our first experience with the Sour Pitch from Lallemand and we stuck to the instructions they provided. We cooled the wort with a cooper immersion chiller until it reached 40ºC (104.0ºF) and we preacidified with lactic acid to a pH of about 4.40 to avoid growth of unwanted bugs. We added 3.3 g (0.12 oz) of Sour Pitch (recommend dose is 10 g/100 L, 0.35 oz/22 gallons) for about 16 liters (3.52 gallons) of wort. We added this amount rehydrated in a small volume of the same wort. Then we set the PID controller at 37.5ºC (99.5ºF) for fermentation with Lactobacillus. We kept the spare contents of the sachet closed in the refrigerator for a future brew day.

Coriander seeds and salt

After 24 hours pH has dropped to 3.55. Since the drop in the pH value seemed to go fast, we set the temperature of the PID controller to 30ºC. After 48 hours pH value was 3.30, more or less what we were looking for. To stop acidification and kill Lactobacillus, we boiled for 55 minutes, adding 8 g (0.28 oz) of Hallertauer Tradition at the beginning of the boil, for 8.1 IBUs. Ten minutes before the end of the boil we added freshly crushed coriander seeds and salt (as I mentioned before a lesser amount that it should have been), as well as a small amount of yeast nutrients to help yeast ferment at a not so ideal pH. We cooled the wort until it reached 20ºC (68.0ºF) with an immersion chiller while we rehydrated Safale K-97, responsible for finishing the fermentation job. After cooling, we transferred the wort to a Brew Bucket fermenter and pitched yeast. It was then when I noticed that the amount of coriander seeds and salt added was not what it should have been. I didn’t add more coriander seeds, but I did add another 6 g (0.21 oz) of salt directly to the fermenter. It wasn’t a good day for memory, we also forgot to take a reading of the gravity at this point.

Fruits for our gose base beer

With the fermentation chamber temperature set at 18ºC (64.4ºF), the beer temperature was 19ºC-20ºC (66.2ºF-68.0ºF) during the most active part of the fermentation. After 3-4 days the temperature started to drop and 6 days after pitching yeast we decided it was time to divide the beer in three equal parts to add fruits. We’ll tell you about that in another entry, although as an advance you can see in picture above which the fruits we added this time were.

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Tasting of Oat Pale Ale (OP Series #1)

First entry of 2019 is going to be for the tasting of the Oat Pale Ale we brewed more than a year ago and that is already finished. But before getting into it, I would like to take this opportunity to wish every reader of this blog a great new year, hopefully drinking a lot of great home brews.

The reason for this to be the first entry of 2019 is in part due to chance, but I’m glad this beer is the one that starts this year since it has been our favourite beer from all the ones we’ve brewed through these years. We liked it so much that we have decided to make a series of beers following the scheme of this one (we’ve already brewed the second one, I will write about it in a few weeks) whose name is going to be OP Series (Oat Pale Series).

Oat Pale Ale (OP Series #1)

As those of you who read the entry about brewing this beer would remember, we took inspiration from a beer from Pilot we drank in Scotland. Our objective was to brew a low alcohol beer, with a smooth mouthfeel and lots of aroma.

Appearance, as expected from the high percentage of malted oats, is hazy, with a nice golden colour. Foam is white, with medium-high retention.

Very fresh citric and tropical notes in aroma. Citra hops, that smelled beautifully when we opened the bag on brewday, really paid off. There are also some esters probably from the yeast (Vermont IPA) and some hints from the malt. Aroma diminished with time, but this loss was less marked than with other hop forward beers we’ve brewed.

More or less the same characteristics are found in flavour, with Citra as the star of the show. Lots of tropical fruits, some citric notes and a bit of peach, the latter maybe produced by the yeast. Bitterness is on point and it balances sweetness from the malts very well. Base malt and malted oats give some biscuity and bready notes.

In spite of the great aroma (really great when the beer was fresh) and flavour, what we liked most about this beer was its mouthfeel. It has a spectacular texture, pretty smooth from the high percentage of malted oats. A medium carbonation complements this mouthfeel in a very good way. Body is medium-high, which masks its low alcohol content perfectly (a beer of only 3% ABV).

All of the above is what made this beer so special for us. As commented before, we will work with new versions of this recipe to try different malts and hop combinations, keeping the proportion of malted oats and the yeast (at least in the first versions). The only drawback of this beer was that maybe it would be rounder if we had had a better efficiency (the theoretical ABV was 4.4%). For future brews of this series we will look for some trick to improve this aspect (well, at least on the third one, since we had the same problem with OP Series #2). Milling barley malt and malted oats separately could be a good starting point, since the size of these grains is quite different. Whatever we do, we will tell you about it. Again, happy 2019 to all of you. Cheers!

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Tangerine Porter – brewing with pure cocoa (Part 2)

It’s been a few months since we made a cocoa tablet from raw cocoa beans, which we used to brew two different Porters. We already told you about the first one, a more or less standard Porter with lactose, cinnamon and vanilla that we named Chocolatatic Porter. Now it’s turn for the second one of these beers. In this case the recipe was less conventional, since we used tangerine juice and zest. Like other beers we’ve brewed, this time the inspiration came from a commercial beer, Tangerine Porter from Tempest Brewing. We tasted it and we liked enough to brew a similar beer. We named this one Tangerine Porter (yes, I know, same name. My bad, at least in Spanish the order of the words is not the same).

Malts for our Tangerine Porter

Grain selection was based on one hand in the available information of the Tempest Brewing beer we wanted to imitate and on the other hand in the experience from other beers we’ve brewed. We had definitely learned some things though these years and it’s time to start using this knowledge. Most of the grist, more than three quarters, consisted of Maris Otter, an English base malt we though was more than appropriate for the style. To this base malt, we added four specialty malts that allowed us to get, or at least try, the parameters we were looking for. There was, of course, chocolate malt, a must for Porters, for flavour and colour. Then Biscuit malt and crystal malt (Crystal T50 from Simpsons to be exact) to contribute some maltiness, and finally, naked malted oats (also from Simpsons) to add some more flavour and, above all, some body that could be thinner adding tangerine juice.

We didn’t think too much about hops and yeast. Chinook boiled for 60 minutes to get most of the IBUs needed for the target bitterness and some Cascade at flame out to try to get some citric notes for the hops that could interact with the notes coming from the tangerines. The chosen yeast was Safele S-04, the famous English strain.

Tangerines ready to be zested and squeezed

The final recipe and process summary were as follows:


1.00 Kg (2.20 lbs) (76.9%) Maris Otter (Crisp) (5.0 EBC)
0.10 Kg (0.22 lbs) (7.7%) Golden Naked Oats (Simpsons) (18.0 EBC)
0.10 Kg (0.22 lbs) (7.7%) Biscuit malt (50.0 EBC)
0.05 Kg (0.11 lbs) (3.8%) Chocolate malt (900.0 EBC)
0.05 Kg (0.11 lbs) (3.8%) Crystal T50 (Simpsons) (133.0 EBC)
5.00 g (0.18 oz) Chinook (13.00% AA) leaf (boil 60 minutes, 32.6 IBUs)
20.00 g (0.71 oz) Cascade (6.20% AA) leaf (whirlpool 10 minutes, 12.4 IBUs)
57 g (2.01 oz) from the tablet of cocoa from raw cocoa beans (boil 15 minutes)
1 liter (0.26 gallons) of tangerine juice
Zest from 2 tangerines (at bottling after being soaked in vodka for 2 weeks)
Safale S-04 (1 sachet, previously rehydrated)
Volume: 5.25 L (1.39 gallons)     OG: 1.050     FG: 1.012     ABV: 5.0%     IBUs: 45.0     Color: 43.7 EBC     BU/GU: 0.907     Efficiency: 65.00%
Ca: 37 ppm; Mg: 3 ppm; Na: 7 ppm; SO4: 14 ppm; Cl: 14 ppm
66.0ºC (150.8ºF) for 60 minutes, mash out 72ºC (161.6ºF) for 10 minutes
60 minutes

Tangerine zest soaked in vodka

We started the brewday setting up everything and boiling the water we were going to use to remove chlorine. In the afternoon, after crushing the grain, we mashed in with 5 liters (1.32 gallons) and the different grains. Target temperature was 66ºC (150.8ºC), and we nailed it the first minutes of the mash. Then we opened the lid of the cooler a couple of times to stir the mash and the temperature dropped to about 63ºC (145.4ºF) after one hour. We mashed out adding 3.5 liters (0.92 gallons) of boiling water to get 72ºC (161.6ºF), stirring thoroughly for 10 minutes.

Once we removed the bag with the grains, we boiled the wort adding hops and the cocoa tablet at the times showed above. When we added the cocoa tablet we stirred with a wooden spoon to aid mixing well. After finishing the whirlpool with Cascade hops, we cooled the wort until it reached 20ºC (68ºF). During that process we also took time to rehydrate the dry yeast we were about to pitch. Before pitching we transferred the wort to a 6.25 liters (1.65 gallons) PET bottle, shaking it to oxygenate as much as possible and we put it in a fridge. We set the fridge at 17.5ºC (63.5ºF), considering we wanted a fermentation temperature of 18ºC-19ºC (64.4ºF-66.2ºF). Original gravity was a little bit higher than expected (1.054 vs 1.050), due to the fact the evaporation was more than planned. Finally, after pitching yeast, we cleaned everything before getting a well earned rest.

Cocoa and yeast sediment after fermentation

Next morning, 12 hours after pitching, fermentation activity was visible, with a good krausen already present. It had a nice chocolate colour and the temperature was about 18.5ºC (65.3ºF), the same we were targeting. Fermentation kept on showing signs for the next 3-4 days and then these sings disappeared. Some trub (cocoa and yeast) started to sediment at the bottom of the PET bottle. We left it that way for a few more days. Two weeks after brewday we squeezed the tangerines (from two different varieties) and zested two of them to soak the peel in vodka for a few days. We kept the juice, about a liter (0.22 gallons) in the freezer for one hour and then we put it in the fridge for a few hours. Finally, the night before transferring the beer to a secondary fermenter, we kept the juice at room temperature for a while. Before adding the juice we took a gravity reading. Gravity at that point was 1.010, with the beer having a nice and prominent cocoa aroma. After adding the juice the total volume was about 5.5 liters (1.21 gallons). Shortly after, due to the sugars from the juice, fermentation started again. However, these sings of fermentation stopped after a day.

Tangerine Porter at bottling time

Twelve days after adding the juice, we finally found some time to bottle the beer. We bottle almost 5 liters (1.10 gallons), 14 bottles of 33 cL (12 oz). We added the vodka in which we had soaked the tangerine peels and enough sugar to get a final carbonation of 2.0 volumes of CO2 before bottling. Final gravity was 1.008, a little bit lower than the theoretical value. This and the fact that original gravity was higher than planned, made the beer stronger that we aimed to, about 6.0% ABV (probably a little bit more due to the sugars in the juice). In a few weeks we, after carbonation in the bottles was finished, we would be able to taste our two beers brewed with pure cocoa, this Tangerine Porter and Chocolatastic Porter. We’ll show you soon how was the final result.

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Tasting of gose with apricots, our first sour beer

After finally deciding to brew our first sour beer at the end of last year, we were eager to finally taste the final result. Especially having into account that, at least theoretically, the parameters of the process we had followed seemed to have not stray from the right ones. If you want to check how we brewed this beer, you can read everything about it here.

Gose, served with and without fruit dregs

First of all, I have to explain something about its appearance. As you probably know, we had some trouble to separate completely the beer from the apricot purée. This involved that some fruit dregs were present in the bottles. After some weeks at cold temperature these dregs deposited at the bottom of the bottles and, if you were cautious, you could serve this beer with a nice golden colour and quiet clear. However, if you shook the bottles just a little bit or if you poured without caution, the beer was hazy and with an orangey colour. You can see the differences in picture above. Foam is white and with low retention.

Regarding aroma, fruit is the most prominent characteristic, with a mix between apricots and citric tones. The acid touch from Lactobacillus is also present. There is no aromas coming from the yeast.

For flavour, a firm but rather smooth tartness is the first impression you get. Soon you can notice the apricot that, in my opinion, balances the acidity quite nicely. Wheat malt imparts some bready hints and, as with aroma, there are also some citric notes, maybe from coriander. Bitterness is quite low, just enough to balance malt sweetness. Safale K-97 yeast did a pretty good job performing a clean fermentation. Salt is not noticeable, but I have the feeling that this beer wouldn’t be the same without it, since it is probably enhancing other flavours.

Body is low-medium, with a medium-high carbonation. It is a very dry and refreshing beer, which makes it very drinkable, especially with good weather. In addition, its low alcohol content, 4.2% ABV, allows you to drink a few glasses without any danger. The fruit dregs, contrary to what it may seem, are not noticeable while drinking the beer. In fact, we preferred the “hazy” version with the fruit that the “clean”.

All in all, we are very happy with this beer. Of all the batches we’ve brewed these last years, this is probably in the top 3. I’m very proud of it and I must say we enjoyed it from the first to that last bottle. Maybe all of this is because it was our first sour beer, something different from what we are used to brew, but the fact is we are very glad with the result. For future versions and, in spite of being something that didn’t really bothered me, I would probably change the way in which we added fruit. Although some fruit dregs remained in the final beer, it was quite tedious to separate most of the fruit from the beer. We could also play with other type of fruits. For the rest of the process, I will keep it more or less the same, only minor changes. If this beer was a test to keep brewing sour beers, with the final result I have no doubt that sour beer have arrived to stay.

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Chocolatastic Porter – Brewing with pure caco (Part 1)

As I told you in the post about our cocoa tablet from raw cocoa beans, we brewed two different Porter style beers using that tablet. In this first post I’m going to describe the first of them, which we named Chocolatastic Porter. First I will describe what was our idea, then the ingredients we chose and, finally, the process we followed.

While designing this beer our idea was to get a Porter that would remind us drinking chocoloate, but in beer form. For this, we first needed to get a cocoa flavour as intense as possible. We would like also to add some adjuncts that go well with chocolate (cinnamon, vanilla) and keep some residual sweetness. As cocoa is bitter, we should restrict bittering hop additions. Regarding yeast, as we wanted cocoa to shine, we would need a clean yeast to ferment the wort.

Cocoa tablet from raw cocoa beans and lactose

Evidently, the first ingredient was obvious, the cocoa tablet we had previously made. We needed to choose the amount to add. For that, we did a little research reading articles about brewing with cocoa and chocolate, finding some real nice ones like this from Cat Stewart, or this one from Chris Colby (sorry, this one only for Brew Your Own subscribers). Considering all these articles, we decided to add about 100 g (3.5 oz) from the cocoa tablet for 10.5 liters (2.77 gallons) of beer. Following Chris Colby’s advice, we also decided to add lactose to get that residual sweetness we were looking for, 150 g (5.3 oz) the last 15 minutes of the boil.

Boiling the wort

As for the malts, due to stock issues we picked two different base malts, Pilsen malt and Maris Otter, coupled with various special malts usually used for Porter beers. Some biscuit malt to get some complexity, chocolate malt for obvious reasons (colour and flavour) and flaked barley to get some body and help with foam since we were afraid fats from cocoa could detriment foam stability.

Regarding hops, we finished the amount we had of Chinook using it for bittering and we used some Northern Brewer for a flavour addition at 15 minutes before finishing the boil, choosing this variety because we thought it could go well with this style due to its earthy and woody atributes. To get a clean fermentation we trusted the always reliable US-05 from Safale. Finally, we also used a cinnamon stick and two vanilla beans, soaked for some days in the minimum volume of vodka to cover them. We added this vodka at bottling.

For the water we used for brewing, we only added some calcium chloride to get a mash pH of 5.5 and additionally to boost calcium and chloride to help with yeast growing and to increase malt flavour, respectively. You can see the final recipe and a summary of the process for this brew below.

Our two Porters brewed with cocoa, fermenting


1.50 Kg (3.31 lbs) (51.2%) Pilsen malt (Grannaria) (3.9 EBC)
0.70 Kg (1.54 lbs) (23.9%) Maris Otter (Crisp) (5.0 EBC)
0.33 Kg (0.73 lbs) (11.3%) Biscuit malt (50.0 EBC)
0.15 Kg (0.33 lbs) (5.1%) Chocolate malt (900.0 EBC)
0.10 Kg (0.22 lbs) (3.4%) Flaked barley (Thomas Fawcet) (3.0 EBC)
10.00 g (0.35 oz) Chinook (13.00% AA) leaf (boil 75 minutes, 31.5 IBUs)
10.00 g (0.35 oz) Northern Brewer (11.20% AA) leaf (boil 15 minutes, 12.9 IBUs)
102 g (3.60 oz) from the tablet of cocoa from raw cocoa beans (boil 15 minutes)
150 g (5.29 oz) lactose (boil 15 minutes)
1 cinnamon stick, soaked in vodka for 1 week (vodka added at bottling)
2 vanilla beans, soaked in vodka for 1 week (vodka added at bottling)
Safale US-05 (1 sachet, previously rehydrated)
Volume: 10.5 L (2.77 gallons)     OG: 1.057     FG: 1.017     ABV: 5.3%     IBUs: 44.4     Color: 49.1 EBC     BU/GU: 0.774     Efficiency: 65.00%
Ca: 109 ppm; Mg: 3 ppm; Na: 7 ppm; SO4: 14 ppm; Cl: 141 ppm
67.0ºC (152.6ºF) for 60 minutes, mash out 75ºC (167ºF) for 5-10 minutes
75 minutes

Vanilla beans and cinnamon stick soaked in vodka

In the morning of the brewday we boiled water to remove chlorine and we left it cooling until the afternoon, when we adjust the water profile adding calcium chloride as I previously mentioned. We mashed with 12 litres (3.17 gallons) of water and the crushed grain, stirring well before putting the lid on. Initial mash temperature was 67ºC (152.6ºF). After half an hour we open to stir the mash again and temperature had decreased to 65ºC (149ºF). After one hour the temperature had dropped to 63ºC (145.4ºF). While we stirred the mash one more time, we added 7.7 litres (2.03 gallons) of almost boiling water for the mash out, keeping a temperature of 75ºC (167ºF) for 5-10 minutes before we removed the bag with the grains. Pre-boil gravity was 1.041, a little bit higher than the theoretical one (1,036), probably due to a finer crush.

We made the hop additions showed in recipe above during the boil, and just after the last one, we added cocoa and lactose, stirring well to add dissolving both. After 75 minutes of boil, we started to cool the wort with our cooper immersion chiller. When the wort reached 19ºC (66.2ºF) we transferred it to a demijohn that we left in the fermentation chamber, set at 17.5ºC (63.5ºF), while we rehydrated the yeast. Maybe we should have boiled more vigorously because we ended with 1.5 litres (0.4 gallons) more than planned. That left us with a wort with an original gravity of 1.050, being the theoretical value 1.057. Not too much of a difference, but we have to keep on working to fine tune our equipment.

Chocolatastic Porter before bottling

Twelve hours after pitching yeast, fermentation was vigorous, with a good krausen formed. Cocoa aroma was evident, with a hazy appearance typical of active fermentations. Beer temperature was 18.5ºC (65.3ºF), with the fridge still set at 17.5ºC (63.5ºF). On the second day, krausen was even thicker and beer temperature was higher, 19.5ºC (67.1ºF). On the third day, fermentation signs started to disappear, the krausen was gone and beer temperature dropped to 18ºC (64.4ºF). We left it that way for a few days and, after two weeks from brewday, we transferred the beer to another demijohn to left some trub behind. We took a sample to taste it and it was quite good, with a pronounced bitterness and a more than evident cocoa flavour.

One week later we found some time to bottle. At this point, apart from adding sugar for carbonation in the bottles (enough sugar for 2.2 volumes of CO2), we added the vodka in which we had soaked the cinnamon stick and the vanilla beans. As you can see in picture above, the amount of vodka must be the minimum to cover whatever you want to use, so its effect is negligible in the final beer. We have tried this method of soaking in vodka several times with different ingredients and I think the result you get from it is pretty good. In this occasion, we kept the cinnamon stick and the vanilla beans in vodka for a whole week, and judging from the colour and aroma of the vodka it was more than enough. We bottled 27 bottles of 33 cL (12 oz), with a final gravity of 1.013 and an ABV of 4.9%. This FG was higher than normal due to the lactose we added, since this sugar cannot be fermented by the yeast we pitched. In future posts we will tell you the process for the other beer we brewed with the cocoa tablet (a Porter with tangerine juice) and the result for these two beers.

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