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Old 01-24-2014, 07:04 PM   #1
Arrheinous
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Default IBU value for coffee / a coffee bitter?

I'm being tasked to make a coffee stout for my next batch, by holy decree of SWMBO. But along these lines I got to thinking about how coffee can reach across from stouts into other styles.

What struck me was trying to make a bitter where the bulk of the bitterness comes from coffee and not hops - to the extent of only using hops for mid to late additions.

Coffee comes across as astringent if you boil the grounds rather than steeping at less than boiling temperatures. I think if I could add the right amount of whole beans as a 60 minute addition then I could take on the bitterness/astringency while boiling off the bad flavor/aroma. Hops are added for 30 min and 0 min additions.

Then as I chill the wort into the 160F range I could toss ground coffee in as if I were making a legit cup of coffee at the right temperature where flavor dominates over bitterness.

Has there been any work to assign IBU to bitter additives that aren't hops? It'd be great to have at least some rough numbers to work off with a recipe like this that needs a pretty solid balance.



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Old 01-24-2014, 07:10 PM   #2
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I think if I could add the right amount of whole beans as a 60 minute addition then I could take on the bitterness/astringency while boiling off the bad flavor/aroma.
I don't have the vaguest idea what you're saying here. Can you elaborate?

Why not just cold steep the coffee and add before bottling? That seems to be the popular method anymore.

And are you making a stout, a bitter (as in English pale ale), both, something else? I'm not confident I even know what you're making.


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Old 01-24-2014, 07:16 PM   #3
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This is more of a technical goal that I'm trying to achieve - to get the IBU from the astringency of roasted coffee instead of hops. Think of things like bragot or old styles that get their bitterness from herbs.

So for coffee, if you want to make a good cup then it's supposed to be made using 180 - 190F water and not boiling water as some people might think. If you go ahead and use boiling water (as with boiling wort) then you extract a lot of bitterness and lose the flavor of the coffee.

The style would be based off a bitter or something sessionable (not as heavy as a stout).

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Old 01-24-2014, 07:21 PM   #4
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I think I know what you're saying. The problem is, that boiled coffee gets all kinds of nasty - not just bitter. Now, I've never boiled and drank hop tea, but I suspect that boiling coffee for an hour would produce a variety of flavors that don't meld well with beer.

If I were you, I'd make an experiment out of it. Start with a 1 gallon batch and give it a shot. It might work, but my gut reaction is that you'd need to add all sorts of stuff (vanilla or other extracts) to make the beer drinkable. Of course, I could be wrong.

To answer your question directly - I don't think bitterness scales across foods, so calculating the IBUs of non-hop products would be difficult. Of course, people do bitter with things other than hops . . . now I'm just thinking out loud.

Good luck.

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Old 01-24-2014, 07:24 PM   #5
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Thanks for the clarification. I don't see this working out. You get a different kind of bitterness from burnt/boiled coffee than from boiled hops. You will get 0 IBUs, and a very unpleasant bitterness.

If you don't believe me, or just want to try it for yourself, make up a super strong black coffee by boiling beans for 60 minutes. Add a bit to a low IBU beer, and see how you like it. No, that obviously won't be exactly like the process you're proposing, but it will give you a rough idea. Who knows? Maybe you will like it. Everyone's taste buds are different, after all.

Incidentally, I think most braggots/brackets made within the past few hundred years have been hopped. You may be thinking of gruit and still older styles.

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Old 01-24-2014, 07:24 PM   #6
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I mean I'm intentionally trying to do something odd. Perhaps reusing spent coffee grounds could remove out a lot of the flavor/aroma that might spoil and stay in the wort. Might prototype this on the 1G scale to see if it gives anything palatable.

EDIT: Ah yeah, gruit's the one.

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Old 01-24-2014, 07:27 PM   #7
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Perhaps reusing spent coffee grounds could remove out a lot of the flavor/aroma that might spoil and stay in the wort.
It'll reduce the good and bad flavors alike, so may not resemble much of a coffee beer anymore.

Anyway, I hear you on tackling something that's different and new. I wish you all the luck in the world...I just hope you're ready for a lot of experimentation and iterations. If you find a process that works, I'd like to hear about it.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:58 PM   #8
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Why not just make a bitter then add the coffee in secondary or at bottling?

There isn't a way to accurately measure the bittering qualities of coffee that I have heard of mainly because bitter coffee is not a positive trait and shows that it is old coffee and degrading in drinkability or enjoyment.

People tend to not boil coffee in the wort because over time the flavor in the beer becomes very astringent and damages the beer in unpredictable ways.



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