Kristin’s Chocolate Coffee Porter (Extract)
This past year my wife and I celebrated our 9th anniversary in Victoria, British Columbia. While we were there we had a couple pints at the Bard & Banker Scottish Pub. It is a beautiful Scottish bar with intricate wood work and an inviting atmosphere. My wife is still discovering her beer palate, and I had an inclination to order her a double chocolate porter that was on tap. She really enjoyed it (as did I). So, I decided there that I would attempt to brew something like that for her for her birthday.
One thing I should mention is that you shouldn’t get hung up on the words “porter” and “stout”. They are now (and were historically) used interchangeably. There are no clear distinctive differences the delineate these as separate beer styles. For more on this you should read this article. For this beer, I am pleased to call it a porter because I tend to think of beer that is spiced, contains chocolate, or has added “roasty” flavors (like coffee) as porters and not stout. I freely admit this is a distinction that is purely mine. You will find many “coffee stouts” produced commercially. If you would like to call it stout, please feel free.
The beer recipe went through several stages before we settled on this one. At one point it was going to be a chocolate, cherry, coffee porter. But, we decided that was a little too ambitious for our first attempt (and possibly too much for one beer). So we settled on a recipe we hoped would give a strong chocolate flavor with a hint of coffee.
For the base of this beer I needed a solid porter recipe. For that I turned to Charles Papazian’s recipe for “Goat Scrotum Ale”. Don’t turned off by the name (unpleasant as it is). It is actually a famous porter recipe that is highly spoken of by many brewers. I have never brewed a porter before, so this would be my first time brewing it. In the recipe it has bakers chocolate as an optional ingredient, so it seemed a good place to start from.
I started with this recipe and used my Beer Recipe Tool in my Excel program and tried to get a beer with a good balance of sweetness, bitterness, and original gravity. I wanted the beer to be on the slightly sweet side (as my wife isn’t too fond of hops). I also didn’t want too much aroma hops because I wanted the beer to have a coffee aroma. There was no way to account for the baker’s chocolate in the recipe tool so the predicted starting gravity was pretty far off. However, I don’t think this caused the beer to be too sweet as I feared it would.
How to best add the coffee flavor took not just a little bit of research. I first talked to the people at my local brewing supply store and they suggested adding a couple shots of espresso to the secondary. I read online where some people had brewed a whole pot of coffee and added to the primary or to the boil. Most people who tried these approaches found that the beer was almost unbearably bitter as a result of the tannins in the coffee when steeped at high temperatures. Just like boiling grain releases tannins, so does heating coffee.
After some searching I stumbled upon someone who cold-brewed their coffee and added it to the secondary. I had never even heard of cold brewing coffee, but I was intrigued. Apparently, some upscale coffee shops actually do this for all their iced coffee. This creates a much sweeter, complex, and rich flavor than hot coffee that is cooled. You can read more about this if you are interested here. I decided that I would try the cold-brew method.
5.75 lbs. Dark Liquid Extract
4 oz. Roasted Barley
4 oz. Black Patent Malt
1 lb Crystal Malt – 60L
1 lb Corn Sugar
1 Cup Molasses
1 Cup Brown Sugar
0.2 oz. Nugget pellet hops
0.45 oz. Nugget pellet hops
0.25 oz. Fuggle (US) pellet hops
8 oz. Unsweetened Bakers Chocolate
Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale
12 oz. course ground coffee in 18 oz. cold water
Steeped crystal malt for 60 minutes. I was targeting 155 degrees but my thermometer was broken so it was probably cooler than that.
Dissolved malt extract, sugars & molasses into the water in the boiler. Brought to a soft boil until all the ingredients were dissolved completely. Added .2 oz of Nugget hops and the bakers chocolate. Boiled 15 minutes. Then, added .2 ounce Nugget hops and tossed in the black patent malt and crushed roasted barley. Boiled for another 15 minutes. Added .25 oz Nugget hops, 2 tsps gypsum and 1 tsp Irish Moss. Boiled for 13 minutes. Then stirred in the .25 oz fuggle hops, boiling for the last 2 minutes.
Added 1 cup of molasses which ended up being 12 oz instead of 8. Beer was very think and chocolaty smelling. A lot of the bakers chocolate solidified and got filtered out by the strainer. The OG was quite a bit higher than expected (1.072 vs. 1.058). I guess the chocolate increased the gravity more than I anticipated (along with the additional molasses). Actually, I didn’t account for it at all. Added 1 smack pack of Irish yeast.
Beer fermentation started with beer temp at 78 °. Room was at 68°. Maintained room between 63-75 °. Transferred to secondary 7 days later. Lots of chocolaty sludge in the bottom of the primary. Cold brewed coffee in a sealable Tupperware container. Added 12 oz. of coffee and 18 oz. of water. Placed mixture in the fridge for 24 hours. Strained out the grains using a cheese cloth and added to the secondary when the beer was racked.
At bottling time smelled absolutely wonderful! Chocolaty, dark, roasty, complex, with a strong, rich coffee smell. No hops aroma. Beer was a very dark brown. I’d guess about 23 SRM. I used 5.6 oz of light DME and bottled all 5 gal. Shooting for 2.25 vol of CO2. Beer only ended up about 4.3 gal (lots of sludge left in primary). I adjusted the amount of dissolved DME accordingly. The gravity was so high originally that the beer is predicted to be 7%, however I don’t believe was really that high. I think some of that gravity was from the density of the unsweetened chocolate, artificially inflating the gravity.
Beer was dark, tasted strong (high alcohol content), and roasty. The prominent flavor was coffee. Perhaps a little too strong on the coffee flavor. I might suggest cutting it in half (6 oz. instead of 12) next time.
Also, the chocolate taste was very faint. I wanted it to smack of chocolate. I think a lot of the chocolate fell out of solution. I don’t think bakers chocolate is very soluble. Perhaps I might add unsweetened powered cocoa in addition to the bakers chocolate next time. I might also consider mixing in some powered cocoa in with the coffee to be added to the secondary.
Bitterness was about right for my intentions. I wanted it a little on the sweet side. I think I pegged the right amount of hops. There wasn’t a hoppy aroma. It smelled like coffee.
Overall, I was very pleased. the beer tasted great and was very enjoyable. The word I would use is decidant. I is a great beer to savor on a cold evening by a fire. I highly recommend it.