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Old 10-11-2011, 12:52 AM   #1
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Default Sanitizing Cocoa Nibs?

I recently brewed the Chocolate Milk Stout from Northern Brewer. They supplied 4 oz of cocoa nibs with the recipe kit. I was unsure how to sanitize these so I looked up the PDF online for the extract kit (I'm using the AG kit), and it just says to add them to the secondary. No mention of sanitizing them.

I've heard from others to soak in vodka, but I don't get paid until Friday and I'm kinda on a timeline. Would boiling render these nibs less flavorful? Anyone have any experience with them? What about a long soak in Starsan?

All suggestions welcomed!

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Old 10-11-2011, 01:02 AM   #2
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I've just added them directly into whatever they were going into. As long as the nibs are sealed up in a bag (vacuum packed?) you should be safe. If anything, sanitize the outside of the package, tear it open and dump into the brew (just don't go from on high). IF you wanted to sterilize them, use a small amount of boiled water, place the nibs into a glass jar (sanitized, along with a sanitized lid), cover in the boiling hot water, then cover the jar. Let cool to room temp and pitch everything in. Anything that gets pulled out with the hot water gets dumped into the brew too. So chances of losing anything is pretty much nil.

So far, I've not done this with anything but oak (when I used oak chips)... Even with my last use of oak cubes, in a mead, I didn't bother. I simply put them into the carboy before racking the mead (18%) onto them.

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Old 10-11-2011, 01:04 AM   #3
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I say just add them. There is little risk of infection when adding them to your fermented beer. Nobody I know sanatizes hops when they dry hop in the secondary. Its really the same concept.

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Old 10-11-2011, 01:11 AM   #4
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I used to just dump the nibs in the secondary fermenter and never had any problems with that. But on my latest batch I soaked them for a couple of days in vodka to see if it enhanced the extract. And I think it does - this batch of my triple chocolate honey stout is the best ever. It's freaky good...

Cheers!

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Old 10-11-2011, 01:25 AM   #5
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Do you just add the nibs or nibs+vodka to the secondary.

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Old 10-11-2011, 01:31 AM   #6
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The whole caboodle, of course! I used only a few ounces of unflavored vodka in eight ounces of nibs, kept it in a small sealed T'ware container, and gave it a good shake whenever I passed through the kitchen. It definitely upped the cocoa voltage!

Cheers!

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Old 10-11-2011, 01:32 AM   #7
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Thanks - Chocolate Milk Stout is my first brew ever - been in the primary for 2 days. I'm going to have to get some vodka before I go to secondary then.

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Old 10-11-2011, 03:27 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mpez View Post
I say just add them. There is little risk of infection when adding them to your fermented beer. Nobody I know sanatizes hops when they dry hop in the secondary. Its really the same concept.
The difference here is that hops are antimicrobial. I cannot vouch with any certainty that nothing is living on the cocoa bean.
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Old 10-11-2011, 04:30 AM   #9
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I agree with most people here: if your source is reliable and you don't mind the risk, dump them straight in; but if it were me, I'd soak them in a little vodka overnight first.

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Old 10-11-2011, 04:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aunt_Ester View Post
The difference here is that hops are antimicrobial. I cannot vouch with any certainty that nothing is living on the cocoa bean.
That is some what of a myth. Yes, they are a natural preservative and have anti bacterial properties once they are in your beer. However it would be virtually impossible that your hops are not covered in bacteria and wild yeast. It's the low PH, alcohol, and the hop compounds that are already extracted in your finished beer that make dry hopping or throwing in nibs safe.

Added protection would be lack of O2, but is not always a given in your fermenter.
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