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Coconut Brewing: sweetened or unsweetend, that is the question

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mrphillips

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I have a chocolate porter in the primary right now, and decided to add coconut to it.

All I can find is Bakers Sweetened coconut, and I didn't know if its flavor would turn my porter into a syrupy-tasting mess or not (the porter is already riding on the sweet side (1/2 lb. Special B and 1/2 lb of crystal 40 was used with only 30ibu's to balance her out).

I will be toasting the coconut regardless, so I'm not worried about infecting the beer, just worried about the flavor. I was also planning on adding an honest pound of coconut, so I wouldn't mind hearing some first-hand experience in this department either.

As always, thank you for any info you can pass my way! I'll post the recipe down the road...if it turns out :)
 

Soulshine2

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I made a toasted coconut choc coffee porter last year and I used nearly 4 lbs of (unsweetened)coconut in the entire 5 gallon batch ,and its very faint.
Your honest 1 pound ,you probably wont taste it at all.
Your 30 ibus may overpower the other flavors youre wanting to come forward.
Go back to the home page ,scroll through the pages , there is an entire article dedicated to brewing with coconut. I suggest you read that a couple times for reference.
good luck
 

303Dan

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I agree with the above recommendation about amount, and will add also that you should use a mesh bag. I used toasted unsweetened coconut for a porter once and let it free float in my conical and the day I tried to rack it was one of the worst brewing related days of my life. Fair warning. :)
 
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mrphillips

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I agree with the above recommendation about amount, and will add also that you should use a mesh bag. I used toasted unsweetened coconut for a porter once and let it free float in my conical and the day I tried to rack it was one of the worst brewing related days of my life. Fair warning. :)
Oh I planned on keeping it under lock-and-key inside a grain/hop bag. I have my own horror stories surrounding free-radicals in the secondary. Haha.

I made a toasted coconut choc coffee porter last year and I used nearly 4 lbs of (unsweetened)coconut in the entire 5 gallon batch ,and its very faint.
Your honest 1 pound ,you probably wont taste it at all.
Your 30 ibus may overpower the other flavors youre wanting to come forward.
Go back to the home page ,scroll through the pages , there is an entire article dedicated to brewing with coconut. I suggest you read that a couple times for reference.
good luck

Good God! 4 pounds was barely noticeable?!?! Thanks for the info. What brand of toasted coconut did you use?
 
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mrphillips

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https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/coconut-ipa.586566/
This is an ipa recipe. It should work for a stout.
I’ve made it several times. Love it.
cheers

Excellent 1st hand experience! I can't go back in time and add coconut to the boil (there's always next time!), but the amount/time in secondary is great info. I've read online that the coconut flavor subsides rather quickly...but that doesn't seem to be your experience. That's why I love HBT!

Do you recall the unsweetened coconut brand you used? For some reason it's like finding hens teeth around my neck of the woods.
 

Soulshine2

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Oh I planned on keeping it under lock-and-key inside a grain/hop bag. I have my own horror stories surrounding free-radicals in the secondary. Haha.




Good God! 4 pounds was barely noticeable?!?! Thanks for the info. What brand of toasted coconut did you use?
brand? i dont remember, it came from the grocery store baking aisle
 

Soulshine2

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I would also recommend using a wide mouth fermenter. at the time all I had was a glass carboy and trying to get the coconut out of the neck of it after the secondary was a PITA. If you havent read the article yet, know that coconut needs a watchful eye while toasting . it can go from "not yet, almost there " to burnt in a split second. keep stirring and flipping it during th toast process and then let it sit on paper towels to absorb the oil , coconut oil will kill beer head so you should try to also include a malt to boost head retention.
 
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mrphillips

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Perfect! That just happens to be the brand I picked up from the store today! They only had 2 bags (10oz each), so it looks like I'm only putting in 20oz.

In your opinion, would leaving it in the secondary for a full week be too long? I have 1.5 lbs of chocolate malt, a 1/2 pound of special-B, and a 1/4 pound of roasted barley in the grain bill, so there's already some pretty strong flavors floating around (not to mention 30ibu's).

I would also recommend using a wide mouth fermenter. at the time all I had was a glass carboy and trying to get the coconut out of the neck of it after the secondary was a PITA. If you havent read the article yet, know that coconut needs a watchful eye while toasting . it can go from "not yet, almost there " to burnt in a split second. keep stirring and flipping it during th toast process and then let it sit on paper towels to absorb the oil , coconut oil will kill beer head so you should try to also include a malt to boost head retention.
I foresaw this as a possibility, so I threw in some crystal 40 and a bunch of flaked oats. Fingers crossed that she can stay frothy for at least a sip or two.
 

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I don’t think a week is too long. If it is, I apologize and will be over to collect my punishment. I’ll take it home and finish the batch off for you.
Cheers
 

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Perfect! That just happens to be the brand I picked up from the store today! They only had 2 bags (10oz each), so it looks like I'm only putting in 20oz.

In your opinion, would leaving it in the secondary for a full week be too long? I have 1.5 lbs of chocolate malt, a 1/2 pound of special-B, and a 1/4 pound of roasted barley in the grain bill, so there's already some pretty strong flavors floating around (not to mention 30ibu's).



I foresaw this as a possibility, so I threw in some crystal 40 and a bunch of flaked oats. Fingers crossed that she can stay frothy for at least a sip or two.
once you add the coconut , it will restart fermentation so wait until that stops and stabilizes.
 
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mrphillips

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I don’t think a week is too long. If it is, I apologize and will be over to collect my punishment. I’ll take it home and finish the batch off for you.
Cheers
God bless you, sir. You're the embodiment of selflessness. Haha!
 
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mrphillips

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Here's the whole recipe in case anyone's interested. I tasted the base beer and it is suuuuuper chocolatey with just a touch of roast. The hops are a bit more aggressive than the style might call for, but I like it that way. It keeps me coming back for more!

5 gallon Batch - mash @ 158 - 90min. boil - OG 1.060 FG 1.018 ABV 5.5% IBU 30 SRM dark a.f.

5 lbs. extra pale dme
1.5 lbs. chocolate malt
1 lb. flaked oats
.5 lb. cara 45
.5 lb. special-B
.25 lb. roasted barley

4oz. cacao nibs (primary)
20oz. toasted unsweetened coconut (secondary)

1.5oz. challenger hops 5.3aau @ FWH (24 ibu's)
.5oz. challenger hops 5.3aau (6 ibu's)

S-05 yeast

Ferment @ 62 degrees 7 days, 70 degrees for 14 days
 
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mrphillips

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once you add the coconut , it will restart fermentation so wait until that stops and stabilizes.
Will the unsweetened coconut really have enough sugar to jumpstart the fermentation? Any idea if it'll give me any noticeable drop in gravity points?
 

Soulshine2

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Will the unsweetened coconut really have enough sugar to jumpstart the fermentation? Any idea if it'll give me any noticeable drop in gravity points?
mine did ...didnt take long to jump start it again either. i had to install a blowoff tube again too. it tried climbing out of the carboy ,made a mess.
drop in gravity points? id have to check my notes but I dont think the FG was off by much, it was more experimental so ...idk , it will depend on your grain bill ,OG,etc. Take notes

edit- I just checked my recipe and I'm so sorry. I used a total of 2 pounds , not 4 as stated earlier. still...if i ever make it again i will be adding at least another pound of coconut. 2 just wasnt enough to get a level of flavor I was looking for.
 
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mrphillips

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mine did ...didnt take long to jump start it again either. i had to install a blowoff tube again too. it tried climbing out of the carboy ,made a mess.
drop in gravity points? id have to check my notes but I dont think the FG was off by much, it was more experimental so ...idk , it will depend on your grain bill ,OG,etc. Take notes

edit- I just checked my recipe and I'm so sorry. I used a total of 2 pounds , not 4 as stated earlier. still...if i ever make it again i will be adding at least another pound of coconut. 2 just wasnt enough to get a level of flavor I was looking for.
Thanks for sharing your notes! I ended up doing 20oz...cause that's all I could find.

I was surprised to see that my bubbler had started going just a day after I added the coconut (similar to your experience). Not to the point that I'll have a blowoff, but interesting nonetheless. I'll be kegging this concoction this weekend, so we'll see how it all shakes out!
 

Soulshine2

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Thanks for sharing your notes! I ended up doing 20oz...cause that's all I could find.

I was surprised to see that my bubbler had started going just a day after I added the coconut (similar to your experience). Not to the point that I'll have a blowoff, but interesting nonetheless. I'll be kegging this concoction this weekend, so we'll see how it all shakes out!
let it take its sweet time to finish out. you kick started the yeast again and you know yeast has no set schedule. you may get a decent coconut flavor in the first couple pulls ,but it will most likely wane from there. not meaning to discourage you but ive not read too many coconut home brewers that found the right amount yet. Next time I use it I will probably add some vanilla extract. I add a few drops of it to the glass and it is a nice subtle addition. You could add some at packaging .
 

Jag75

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I definitely wanna do a choc coconut porter or stout . I've been reading the coconut threads and watching you guys dial this in lol.
 

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Did a coconut stout back in November
Used 3/4 pound toasted dry hopped for a week
Did another 3/4 pound toasted for a week
Still has wonderful coconut aroma and flavor
 
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mrphillips

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Did a coconut stout back in November
Used 3/4 pound toasted dry hopped for a week
Did another 3/4 pound toasted for a week
Still has wonderful coconut aroma and flavor
I keep reading online that the coconut flavor leaves quickly...but so far you're the second person on this thread who has used coconut and says the opposite. Just one more reason why I love me some homebrewtalk.
We'll see if mine follows suit.

let it take its sweet time to finish out. you kick started the yeast again and you know yeast has no set schedule. you may get a decent coconut flavor in the first couple pulls ,but it will most likely wane from there. not meaning to discourage you but ive not read too many coconut home brewers that found the right amount yet. Next time I use it I will probably add some vanilla extract. I add a few drops of it to the glass and it is a nice subtle addition. You could add some at packaging .
Love the vanilla idea...but if the yeast decides to keep chuggin' along, I'm not sure if I can wait to taste it.
 

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I keep reading online that the coconut flavor leaves quickly...but so far you're the second person on this thread who has used coconut and says the opposite. Just one more reason why I love me some homebrewtalk.
We'll see if mine follows suit.



Love the vanilla idea...but if the yeast decides to keep chuggin' along, I'm not sure if I can wait to taste it.
My reply to the guy that had coconut flavor at a week...taste it again in 2 months and tell me its still there.
Give it time . Never rush yeast. It runs on its own schedule anyway
 

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I did a coconut IPA, unsweetened and toasted, added during secondary. The coconut flavor stuck around while the hop aroma began to fade. I think I used about 1 lb for a 5 gallon batch...
 
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mrphillips

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The Walmart link is the exact one I bought (I'm not sure why mine was only 10oz a bag), but the amazon link looks a little different. I highly doubt that it would matter, but I don't have any way of knowing.

It's worth noting that the two Walmart's nearest me did not have the brand that I saw on their website. Just something to consider.
 
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mrphillips

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Well, she's in the keg! I lost a fair amount of beer to the coconut (took me from 5gal. down to 4.5gal.), so I will definitely tweak the recipe to account for this next time...and that's all the tweaking I'll be doing.

Holy crap in a kettle is this beer on point! The front of the beer is alllllll chocolate (God bless cocoa nibs), and then there's a slow slide threw a mild roasted-coffee note, then into pure coconut flavor that hangs on for a nice long welcomed time. The slightly bitter-tongue I had from my 30ibu's in the base beer was all but gone. Surprisingly, I wouldn't say that it's "sweet," just creamy and coconutty. The coconut totally put my hops in their place!

The FG didn't change, and hung steady at 1.018. I don't know how it will evolve over the next couple weeks, but I've never had a little extra time hurt a beer.

I debated about adding vanilla, but I don't think it needs it. I almost think I'd push it too far into the "Sweet" range...not that that's a bad thing, just not my personal taste. I'm not trying to make a Sweet Baby Jesus :)

I'll update when Keg is tapped (early March). I truly hope I don't drink it all before my guests show up on St. Patty's day.
 
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mrphillips

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I have this all carbed up, and allowed myself to steal a glass tonight. Holy crap in a kettle is this a solid beer.

Aroma: mild coconut, not as much chocolate as I thought there'd be.
Mouth feel: creamy as hell. I'm glad I didn't add Lactose to this...it would have been over the top.
Taste: mild bitterness hits first, then waves of creamy coconut take over and stays for a long time.
Finish: all coconut, but not overwhelming (disclaimer, I REALLY like coconut).

Conclusion? The coconut adds sweetness but not in a syrupy kind of way...more of a thickening kind of sweetness. That's a horrible description, but it's good and that's all you need to know. The coconut has the ability to hide any mistakes that might be in the beer (in my case, overly aggressive hops), but the drawback is that it steam roles over all the hard-earned flavors in the grain bill. This is a coconut beer, plain and simple.
 

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