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Old 02-12-2009, 11:28 PM   #1
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Default The chocolate emulsion: my crazy theory

I've been thinking long and hard about chocolate in beer since my "what you need to know about chocolate for brewing" thread. Cocoa powder is the brewers best choice, besides maybe chocolate extract. The problem is that it doesn't mix well. Anyone who has ever added cocoa powder to the boil knows it creates a goopy mess and never fully integrates into the beer. It does impart flavor, but ultimately drops out of suspension.

Now think about a chocolate bar. Its made of fat (cocoa butter), solids (cocoa powder, sugar and sometimes milk solids) and seasonings (vanilla). If you look on the back of a chocolate bar, you will more than likely see an ingredient called lecithin. Lecithin is a type of phospolipid which can latch onto both water and fat. Phospolipids are the reason we have such creations as mayonaise, vinegarettes, and yes, chocolate. All those cocoa solids are bound up in the emulsion created by the fat and small amount of water. There is a lot more going on in a chocolate bar (fat crystals etc) that doesn't really matter to us.

What we need to do then, is emulsify the cocoa solids in something that will not be detrimental to our beer. A chocolate bar is out. Too much fat. Possibly a chocolate bar with at least 80% cacao. Those are pretty hard to come by and can get expensive. Other ingredients with naturally occuring emulsfiers include egg yolk, mustard powder. We don't want that in our beer either.

That leaves us with the wort. I don't claim to have any knowledge of chemical makeup of wort (besides that its really sugary, mainly maltose). I'm wondering if you were to pull a small amount of wort, cool it down, add the cocoa and mix it like crazy. If you have ever made mayonnaise you know what I mean. IF wort has enough naturally occuring emulsifiers (I'm willing to bet it might), the cocoa powder will be bound up with the wort and less likely to fall out of suspension.

I'll admit this is a complete crackpot theory. I'm going to pick up some cocoa powder and try mixing it up with some DME. Maybe it will work. I'll keep you posted.

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Old 02-12-2009, 11:42 PM   #2
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Sounds like a pretty cool idea, I am watching.

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Old 02-13-2009, 03:27 PM   #3
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It might work. I'd mix the cocoa and DME and then slowly add a tiny bit of water while stirring. SLOWLY add more water and keep mixing. Think of it as making a paste, and then adding more water.

I make media for growing microbes in the lab and the ingredients mix very much like DME does. It works so much better to dissolve it in the procedure I outlined above, rather than adding the powder to the water. Just like making gravy - make the roux, and then add the liquid. No clumps!

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Old 02-17-2009, 12:03 AM   #4
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I've got another idea. In this thread, the OP pointed out that Nesquik has lecithin in it. A little bit of nesquik would help form the emulsion. Thats much easier than trying to track down soy lecithin on the internet.

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Old 02-17-2009, 01:02 AM   #5
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I'm pretty sure you can find soy lecithin at natural/health food stores (maybe even Whole Food or something similar). Not sure what it's used for in those crowds, but I know I've seen it there before.

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Old 02-17-2009, 04:40 PM   #6
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I like the idea of something that everyone has easy access to. When I get a chance to try this out, and if it works, I'd like to be able to say "here is a good easy way to get chocolate to mix into beer better". I'd rather not send everyone on a wild goose chase for soy lecithin.

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Old 02-17-2009, 04:54 PM   #7
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Don't add "spices" to your boil. Make a tea out of it, which will pasteurize it, and then add it as you're cooling. You get better flavor and you won't run into the other problems. Basically, make some hot cocoa and pour it in, which seems like your plan anyway.

The best pumpkin beer i've ever tasted used the spices this way (cinnamon, vanilla bean, etc.) and I'm convinced it's the only way to go. My last chocolate beer had far too much chocolate, unfortunately. I think I may have to give it another go.

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Old 02-17-2009, 05:02 PM   #8
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Frankly, I don't think it'll fly...I don't think the emulsifiers are in the wort as you are assuming. Typically, lipids can only be extracted using solvents like alcohol, etc. and probably would not end up in the wort under typical mash conditions.

Check out pg 89 of Malting and Brewing Science vol 1 by Briggs et al (you can find it on Google book search!)

near the end:
"Most malt lipids are retained in the spent grain during mashing"

Sorry to p-ss on your parade...you could try some interesting experiments with lecithin as others have suggested...

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Old 02-17-2009, 06:40 PM   #9
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Hey, no worries. I'm no expert on the science, I just watch too much good eats and am an amateur cook at home. I'm glad you brought that up. In a sense, there is no real reason to waste DME or wort with doing this.

I'm really trying to find a uniform way to add chocolate to beer. There are a lot of people asking this question, and nobody seems to give a good answer. I've seen everything from cocoa powder in the boil, in the primary, cocoa nibs in the secondary, bakers chocolate in the boil etc.

I think DeathBrewer's method is the best I've seen. It goes hand in hand with what I was thinking.

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Old 02-17-2009, 06:47 PM   #10
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With the method i mentioned for the pumpkin ale, the spices actually never go in the wort. You just pour the "tea" in. Boiling spices will always give the potential for off flavors. It also gives you the opportunity to adjust at later times. You could add spices at flameout, primary, secondary, bottling...whenever you'd like.

Powder will dissolve, of course, so not quite the same thing there.

I used cocoa powder in a tea at flameout last time i made the chocolate ale, then i used nibs in the secondary. I think the nibs were too much. The beer was good, but overly chocolately and it was quite the laxative.

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