A Home Brewer’s Personal Journey through His Craft – Part 17
Welcome back, fellow brewers. This time around we are going to visit the dark side: Coffee Chocolate Stout!
Specifically a very unique and original stout I came up with. It is based on the Double Black Hook recipe we discussed in part 9 of our journey, but with a twist.
You may recall the Double Black Hook was my attempt (very successful, I might add) to make a clone of Redhook Brewing’s Double Black Stout which was a rich stout brewed with Starbuck’s coffee. This is basically the same recipe with a couple changes to the malts and hops and increasing the honey. I also used a different blend of Starbuck’s coffee. The most unique change is the addition of vanilla beans. I call this creation, Three Bean Stout, in reference to the coffee beans, vanilla beans, and cocoa beans from which the Baker’s chocolate is made.
I made this twice, first as a partial mash with extracts and later as an all-grain. I will share both recipes.
Three Bean Stout
- 3 lb M&F Extra Dark DME
- 3 lb M&F Wheat DME
- 3 lb Clark’s raw unfiltered wildflower honey
- ½ lb British chocolate malt
- ½ lb American 120L crystal malt
- ½ lb German Munich malt
- ½ lb American Vienna malt
- ½ lb American Victory malt
- 1 oz Galena hop pellets (60 min.)
- 1 oz Northern Brewer hop pellets (30 min)
- 1 oz Willamette hop pellets (5 min)
- ¼ tsp Irish Moss (15 min)
- 6 oz Baker’s unsweetened chocolate (30 min)
- 3 vanilla beans (30 min)
- 6 oz Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee beans
- 2 pkg (23g) EDME ale yeast
- Priming: ¾ cup corn sugar & ¼ cup DME
Obviously, this is the partial mash with extract recipe. Why did I choose Starbuck’s Christmas Blend? Because that is what I had so I used it.
Let’s Get Started
Start by heating all the milled grains in two gallons of cold water. Stabilize the temperature at 158°F and remove from heat, cover and let mash for 30 minutes. Lauter and sparge with one gallon 180°F water. Add DME and honey and bring to boil, adding the hops, Irish Moss, vanilla beans, and chocolate at the times indicated for a total 60 minute boil. Cut the vanilla beans into ¼” to ½” pieces and place in a hop bag and break the chocolate squares into smaller pieces.
During the last 15-20 minutes of the boil prepare two 12 cup pots of coffee using three ounces each of the ground coffee beans. Pour one pot into carboy with 1 ½ gallons cold water. After the 60 minute boil has completed, remove the hop bags and sparge back into the kettle with the second pot of coffee. Stir well and pour into carboy. Pitch the re-hydrated yeast when wort has cooled.
Fermentation activity was very vigorous. The head was rather thin but full of fine, very active bubbles. The wort was swirling furiously. The carboy actually felt warm as if the activity was generating heat. The fermentation lock was a steady gurgle of bubbles.
I racked the beer to the secondary after six days and bottled after another twelve days.
This was some excellent stuff. A little lighter colored than expected and did have considerable cloudiness, chill haze. The coffee and chocolate were battling for the dominant flavor, seemingly swapping the forefront every other sip and still letting the hops and malt come through.The slightest hint of vanilla was kind of keeping everything in balance. I took no gravity reading so do not know what the ABV was.
One More Time Around
I brewed this one again about seven years later at the behest of Jason Yester, who was then the head brewer at Bristol Brewing.
I had told Jason about some of my best brews and he was very intrigued by the Three Bean Stout, suggesting I should do it again. Had hopes he might want to brew it commercially. It didn’t happen. Jason has since moved on and has been very successful with Trinity Brewing, also in Colorado Springs.
Update 2017: I recently ran into Jason at another local brewpub after a long time of not talking with him. He still remembers and asked about this beer.
I did change quite a few things up this time around. Different coffee, different hops, different yeast, but the most significant changes were going all-grain and using organic cacao nibs instead of Bakers chocolate. Cacao nibs are hulled and crushed cacao beans. Apparently, it is not technically called cocoa until after the nibs are processed. Now, this can truly be called, Three Bean Stout.
Three Bean Stout II
- 8 lb British two row pale malt
- 1 ½ lb American White Wheat malt
- 1 ½ lb British Chocolate malt
- 1 ½ lb American 120L crystal malt
- ½ lb German Dark Munich malt
- ½ lb German Vienna malt
- ½ lb American Victory malt
- ½ lb British Black patent malt
- ½ lb British Roasted barley
- 1 ½ lb Wildflower honey
- 7 oz Cacao Nibs (1 oz for dry hop)
- 7 oz Espresso beans (1 oz for dry hop)
- 4 Vanilla beans (1 for dry hop)
- 1 oz Northern Brewer whole cone hops (60 min)
- 1 oz Northern Brewer whole cone hops (30 min)
- 1 oz Kent Goldings whole cone hops (10 min)
- 1 oz Kent Goldings whole cone hops (dry hop)
- ½ tsp Irish Moss (10 min)
- UCCS 1028 Olde English Ale Yeast
- Priming: ½ cup corn sugar & ½ cup DME
Let’s Do It Again!
Start by heating 18 quarts cold water to 180°F strike temperature. Add all the milled grains resulting in a mash-in temperature of 158°F. My target was actually 155°F but 158°F was close enough. Cover and let mash for 60 minutes. Mash-out temperature was 150°F.
While heating the 18 quarts of mash water, also heat one gallon to 180°F in a separate kettle. Add six ounces cacao nibs and three vanilla beans cut into 1/8” pieces. Let this steep for 60 minutes along with grains.
Pour the mash and the cacao-vanilla blend into lauter-tun and sparge with 170F water. Collect 7 gallons of wort. The wort was still running so rich and dark that I continued to sparge and collected another 3 ½ gallons for a small beer. I will describe it at the completion of the Three Bean. Consider it a bonus. I won’t even count it in the 100 Bottles.
Add the honey to the wort and bring to boil. Boil for 30 minutes and then add the hops and Irish Moss at the times indicated for a total 90 minute boil.
Remove from heat and remove the hop bags. Prepare two 10 cup pots of coffee using three ounces ground Espresso beans for each pot. Use coffee to sparge the hop bags while pouring into kettle.
Cool the wort to 68°F with an immersion chiller and pour into carboy with yeast. The OG was 1.070.
After 5 days in the primary, rack to secondary with dry hops in one hop bag and cacao nibs, whole coffee beans, and chopped vanilla bean in 2nd hop bag. Intermediate gravity was 1.028 for about 5.4% ABV. The beer tasted great, lots of bitter dark chocolate and coffee.
How Elevation Affects Brewing
After 16 days in the secondary showing very slow continuing activity, bottle the beer. After moving to Colorado Springs and the additional +/- 1000 feet elevation change, I am still struggling with the proper priming sugar quantity. Higher elevation equals less air pressure equals higher carbonation levels.
The FG was 1.028, the same as when racked to secondary. I believe the additional cacao and vanilla beans may have added some fermentable sugars which would account for the continued activity and no change in gravity. I believe the ABV was close to 6%.
At bottling, the primary flavor was chocolate with the coffee falling in second place. It was a stretch to find the vanilla, but it was there.
After proper bottle conditioning, the chocolate and coffee were again battling for the dominate flavor while still letting the malt and hops shine through. The vanilla kept its subtle distinction of keeping all the other flavors in balance.
I presented a couple of bottles at the Bristol Christmas party that year and it was proclaimed,
“The quintessential breakfast beer, bring on the bacon and eggs.”
OK, as promised, I will throw in a bonus beer here. A small beer truly is a bonus beer. By sparging the grain bed of the previous beer and collecting more wort which is lighter than the first runnings; a second, lighter beer can be made. This can be made into nearly anything you want with the addition of more malts, extracts, or other fermentables.
Two Bean Small
- 3 ½ gallons second runnings from Three Bean Stout
- 2 cups Organic Blackstrap molasses
- 1 ½ oz Home Grown Nugget whole cone hops (30 min)
- 1/8 tsp Irish Moss (10 min)
- Wyeast 1028 London Ale Yeast
- UCCS 1098 British Ale Yeast
- Priming: ¼ cup molasses & 1/3 cup DME
Why Two Bean?
I called this one Two Bean because it has no coffee, just cacao and vanilla.
I should have added more than one cup of molasses at this time but did not, only added 1 cup to the 3 ½ gallons of wort and heated to boil. Add the hops and Irish Moss at times indicated for a total 30 minute boil. Remove from heat and cool with immersion chiller before pouring into carboy with London Ale yeast.
The OG was 1.024. I did not expect much from this as the yeast was old and the wort was too thin, but I thought it was worth a try. After more than 24 hours there was no sign of activity so I pitched the British Ale yeast as well. Activity began in less than 12 hours and was good after 24 hours.
After three days in the primary, rack the beer to a secondary. Intermediate gravity was 1.010, about 2% ABV, way too low. I left it for 10 days in the secondary and checked the gravity again, no change, still 1.010. I decided to add a second cup of molasses in the secondary. It did not mix in well and mostly sank to the bottom of the carboy, but that is where the yeast is as well.
It took two days for activity to resume and after seven days it was ready to bottle. I did not take an FG reading as I felt it would be somewhat irrelevant after the addition of molasses in the secondary. I would guess the ABV to somewhere around 2.5 – 3% now.
Disappointing, But Worth the Effort
Initially, this beer was a disappointment, very lacking in body and carbonation, and tasting pretty much like fermented molasses. But, it did age rather well, the body improved as the carbonation level increased. The primary flavor was still molasses and, while still not a great beer, it was very drinkable; worth the experimental effort.
All righty then!
There you have two very successful versions of an original, unique stout and, as a bonus, an experiment with a small beer. Two more down and we still have 37 beers on the shelf.
I’ll be writin’ at ya’ again soon so, in the meantime…
Keep on Brewin’…