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.
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).