This is not a homebrewing blog, but every once in a while it is time to make an exception. The last How To Brew in the New School post on the Mini-Moon Pie Porter has seen many, many hits over the past few months. So, I believe the time is right for the next homebrewing post, chronicling my adventures brewing the Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout at Coalition Brewing for the Halloween Night of the Living Ales: 28th Street Pub Crawl.
I originally conceived and brewed an Imperial Stout base beer about a year ago. I have always loved brewing dark beers because there are just so many fun ingredients you can add to them to play off of those roasty notes. I have brewed many a chocolate and coffee beer in the past, to varying degrees of success.
Homebrewers know that these 2 ingredients are often a concern because their high oil content can be troublesome for fermentation, but they are primarily dangerous to the beer being able to develop (and retain) a head after carbonation.
|dry powdered organic cocoa being added to the boil kettle|
Speaking for myself, I have never had trouble with these issues, and I find the concern to be way overstated. However, using peanut butter is another matter. Simply looking at a jar of peanut butter reveals a huge amount of thick slick oil. This could be tricky.
After researching a bit I found one homebrewing blog that referenced a peanut butter beer where the writer/brewer continuously poured off the oil in a jar of peanut butter for many days as it developed, and the final product managed to have some head, but not much of one. I decided the way to go was unprocessed peanut butter, which is the way I would go anytime when adding ingredients outside of your typical ones. Thus I purchased about 1 pound of the bulk organic fresh ground peanut butter at New Seasons Market, where you actually grind it yourself right there in the store. This stuff was perfect, there is absolutely no visible oil. Sure, its still oily and creamy, but there is not that sea of oil you usually find.
All in all, for 10 gallons of beer I added just over a pound of fresh ground peanut butter and 40oz of powdered organic Cocoa. I believe these ingredients need to be sanitized, but only minimally so as to not scorch the ingredients and boil off some of the more subtle flavors and aromas, particularly the peanut butter. I added it to the last 10 minutes of the boil, making sure to stir it vigorously, breaking up the globs and preventing any from burning to the bottom or sides of the boil kettle. It breaks down surprisingly well, but takes about the full 10 minutes of stirring to do so.
One thing I have learned in brewing is that you dont have a chance at innovation if you do not take risks. In fact I think you must throw a bit of caution to the wind, I learned that from my time brewing with Alex Ganum of Upright Brewing.
Running the sticky and very thick wort off from the boil kettle proved a difficult task. While the peanut butter itself virtually fully dissolved in the wort, tiny pieces of the nuts that were not fully ground into butter combined with wet cooked hops to clog the false bottom of the brew kettle so much that we resorted to having to suck air from the hose to keep the wort flowing out. We then employed a filter cone to strain the sticky mess and I even added a cheese cloth to that in an attempt to strain as much oil as possibleout of the wort before it hit the fermenter. It was a tricky job that required a lot of shifting, stirring, dumping and pouring, but it seemed to work out OK.
As we chilled the hot wort down to a yeast-friendly temperature of around 66 degrees and transferred it into the fermenter I could see this was still going to be a thick and creamy beer, and that is not a bad thing.
We then took a gravity reading, and I was pleasantly surprised to get a reading of 1.070, an excellent # for the beer I was going for. After tasting the creamy sweet wort from the hydrometer, I can say based purely on that this beer will hopefully taste like a not quite so sweet one of these:
In primary fermentation the beer struggled to Krausen, that is the head that forms during fermentation. This was not unexpected at all with the oils and exactly as the first batch I did. Then after 7 days primary a gravity reading showed the beer to be at 1.030, which still left a good amount of sugars unfermented and put it at 5.33% abv. We pitched a bunch more dry yeast into the fermenters to re-start fermentation, which was very successful, and the beer finished out at 1.016, making it 7.2% alcohol, which is just what I was shooting for. The appearance was still very cloudy and almost peanut butter looking, so we put it into the walk in cooler to "crash" it, making the yeast and sediment drop out much faster, and it seems to be going well. I won't know for sure how well it came out until Halloween, but I think this beer may be the rare example of a brew that could benefit from some filtration.
Interested in trying this beer? Well, probably your only chance is to join the Night of the Living Ales: 28th Street Pub Crawl, as it will be tapped exclusively for attendees on Halloween night at the final stop of the crawl at 11pm at Coalition Brewing.