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Old 03-11-2014, 08:17 PM   #1
bgm1961
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Default Adding coffee - another newbie question

Hi all,

I'm still trying to make that elusive beer that the wife will like. She recently showed interest in a coffee brown ale which was brewed with real coffee. So I found a coffee porter recipe online that calls for coffee to be added to the primary. But that's all it says.
Actually, it says this:
"14 oz Coffee (Primary 7.0 days)"

Keeping in mind that I'm transitioning from the beginner to intermediate stages of homebrewing, and also that I'm NOT a coffee person, (i.e., almost zero knowledge on brewing/preparing coffee, though I do like its flavor when incorporated in other foods), the recipe doesn't include a lot to go on. So my questions are:

1) "(Primary 7 days)"... I assume this means add it to the primary while racking from the brew pot and LET IT SIT for [at least] seven days? Or something different?

2) What form is the coffee? Beans, ground, brewed?
Of course I've already done some research and read several discussion threads on the topic, and my head is spinning from all the possible methods. The easiest for me given my lack of "coffee knowledge" is to simply dump the specified weight of ground coffee to the primary. A better option though, I assume, is to cold-steep the grounds then add the resulting brew to the primary? But how to do this? The recipe calls for "14 oz" coffee... if I cold-steep, does that mean 14 oz of liquid coffee brew? If so, how much coffee grounds do I use to produce that? Or does it mean 14 oz of coffee grounds are used to make the brew? and if that's the case, how much liquid?

OK, I guess those are all my questions. From what I've read, it's a "must" to use gourmet coffee (vice the canned stuff), so I'll figure that out on my own. In the meantime, thanks to all for your generous wisdom!

bgm1961

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Old 03-11-2014, 10:34 PM   #2
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Whoa. 14 ounces of beans is an INSANE QUANTITY. I don't know what they meant, but I would not add that much. They might mean add 14 ounces of brewed coffee. I don't know.

If I were you, I would make some cold-brewed coffee (which generally has a more pleasant, less harsh, taste, and may work better in a brown ale), and then add that to taste at bottling. This is the safer approach with just about any non-fermentable addition--spice, coffee, whatever. Making cold brew is easy. If you are worried about sanitation, you can make the coldbrew, then heat it to 160F for ten minutes to pasteurize, and then cool it off again. You could also make hot coffee. Either way, though, you can take a sample of a known size from your bottling bucket and add a small amount of coffee; this will allow you to pick the level of coffee you want, and then scale it up to the whole batch.

Adding coffee directly to the boil, or adding beans (whether whole or ground) or finished coffee (hot brewed or cold) to the primary also works. But it is less predictable, and it is not really adjustable after the fact (except to add MORE coffee at bottling). Coffee is a strong flavor and can easily overwhelm a good beer. So I think addition at bottling is safer.

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Old 03-12-2014, 10:43 PM   #3
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Motorneuron,

Thanks for the great reply. I think I'll do exactly that - make a cold-brewed coffee. The recipe creator added his to the primary, so I'll have to consider your suggestion of adding it at bottling a little more.

A question on that - won't adding the cold-brew coffee at bottling alter the FG and thusly, the ABV as well? I can't imagine how it wouldn't. Or perhaps the quantity isn't enough to make an appreciable difference?

As far as sanitizing, I also like your recommendation to pasteurize the cold-brew solution. Originally, I thought about sanitizing the grounds (by sticking them in an oven) and using boiled water as sanitary ingredients for the cold-brewing process, and then simply dumping the final product into the beer. But then it occurred to me that even if I used a sanitized jar, the 18-24 hrs of cold-brewing is simply a lot of time for some sort of bacteria to take hold during the cold-brew process, despite the above precautions. So again, I like the pasteurization method you spoke of.

Thanks!

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Old 03-13-2014, 04:56 PM   #4
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Just a quick response--you probably don't need to add a huge volume of coffee to get the flavor you want. It will dilute the beer a little, since it's not going to be a totally negligible volume (which might be the case for, say, a spice). But it won't be much. And you can make the coffee more concentrated than usual if you're worried. Probably not a big deal one way or the other.

As for sanitizing, it's less of a concern when you're talking about post-fermentation. The beer is already fairly stable and not easy for stuff to grow in: there's not much nutrition left, and not much oxygen, because of the yeast. Plus there's alcohol and hop compounds that interfere with many things. But yeah, pasteurization is an extra step you can do--just don't worry too much.

Good luck!

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Old 03-13-2014, 05:04 PM   #5
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I just added coarse ground beans about .5 oz/ gallon directly to the fermenter while cold crashing. Let that sit for 4 days and then racked to bottling bucket and bottled.

That was for a 10% imperial stout, you may be able to dial the coffee down a bit for a lighter beer, but I like coffee in my beer!

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Old 03-14-2014, 12:21 AM   #6
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Great comments! Thanks, Both.

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Old 03-14-2014, 01:23 AM   #7
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From my understanding and talking to a local brewer you definitely don't want the coffee to ever be hot or touch anything hot and you want to limit contact time to less than 5 days or else you will risk bitterness and or green peppery taste

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