Flavorings for Chocolate Stout

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philm63

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Already done a ton of research on this over the past couple years and I’ve managed to cause a train wreck in my head with all the possibilities. Of course, I want that one perfect solution – you know; the one that doesn’t exist – to maximize the chocolate flavors and aromas in my stout with the least amount of work/mess/cost/contamination/etc. This all started back in Georgia some years ago when I tasted a Fort Collins double chocolate stout at a brew fest (Secret Stash Bash) – very well balanced stout, not too big, but ample chocolate in the nose and on the palette. THAT is what I’m looking for.

I think I have managed to narrow it down to water- or alcohol-based extracts and roasted cocoa nibs in various stages of the brew. Never brewed a chocolate anything so there is no experience here. Plenty of porters and stouts to my credit, just nothing with chocolate other than chocolate malts. So far, these are the “basics” I have come up with for a 5-gallon batch size:

Chocolate Malt can be a blend of pale and regular chocolate malt for 10% of the grist.

Roasted cocoa nibs (medium or dark roast, or a blend of the two) can be used at a rate of up to 8 oz in a hop spider for the last 5 minutes of the boil.

Roasted cocoa nibs (medium or dark roast, or a blend of the two) can be used at a rate of up to 8 oz in the fermenter post-fermentation (or in secondary) for up to two weeks (would recommend a tincture here).

Up to 2 oz “good quality” chocolate extract in the keg prior to racking.

Seems to me the tincture and the extract I mention above could be one in the same. I could take 6 oz of roasted nibs and drop them in a Mason jar along with a vanilla bean slit up the middle and chopped into small pieces, cover with vodka or a nice dark rum, seal it up and let it sit for a week giving it a shake periodically. Run this through a coffee filter into another smaller jar, seal it up and pop it in the freezer overnight. Take out the next day and scrape off the fat layer on top and bada-bing! Extract! No?

Really just wondering what folks are doing these days to get that “wow” in their chocolate stouts, what with all the new products on the market now – Cholaca, “Brewer’s Blend” roasted nibs, etc. I’m looking to do a medium gravity (6% or so), don’t want too bitter or too sweet (.5 BU/GU or so), not like biting into a bar of 70% Scharffenberger, but definitely there in the nose and on the tongue.
 

mashpaddled

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Chocolate malt doesn't really taste like chocolate. It's more of a description of the color. If it has a chocolate taste, it's closer to bitter chocolate for baking than the sweet chocolate taste you probably want.

While you can fuss about making tinctures, most of the adjunct laden stouts on the market are made by breweries dumping the adjuncts directly into the beer. I would just add cocoa nibs and vanilla directly into the beer and package it once you're happy with the flavor. You can always add smaller amounts of the adjuncts until you are happy with the flavor. Easier to add more than try to blend out too much.
 

tracer bullet

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I'm interested in this as well and making a "chocolate stout" tomorrow myself. It'll be my 3rd iteration of the recipe.

I've found pale chocolate, despite what others have said, is a fine malt but not chocolate flavored - in beer, by smell before getting used, or even chewing on the grains. Typical chocolate malt does have some of that dark baker chocolate flavor, at least I think so, it could be wishful thinking. Those things said, they seem to still be useful as complementary flavors to the addition of "real" chocolate, if nothing else. I'm doing 50 / 50 of each at the moment along with some roasted barley. I've mixed up the pale / normal ratio and not really been able to tell a difference so far, and may remove one altogether in the future. TBD.

I bought nibs from "Chocolate Alchemist" and have been quite happy with them, they'll be used again tomorrow and I'll probably buy more - Brewer's Blend . They're a dark, somewhat fruity chocolate and smell great. In the beer for 3 gallons I've been doing 4 oz mash and 3 oz boil. The flavor is clearly there, it's clear I've added them, but not "in your face" or tiring. I'm going to go a little heavier on it tomorrow but it'll be a few weeks at least before I have results. The nibs have been in the freezer for a few months as well and may have lost potency which will muck up the results as well.

On that page is a link to an article where he / they compared a few variations on chocolate additions and indicated what they felt was best. It could be a little sales pitch of course but I've found no reason not to trust the results. It's an interesting read if nothing else.
 
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philm63

philm63

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@tracer: Yeah, it is that article where I found the brewer's blend nibs and also the bit about blending regular with pale chocolate malt. I'd heard in plenty of other places where chocolate malt does not impart chocolate flavor per se, rather it enhances the perception, whatever that means. Understanding it is a personal taste thing, chocolate "flavor" is difficult to quantify. What tastes good to me (and I like the pungent dark chocolate) might make someone else blow chunks.

I'd be interested in your notes on this next chocolate stout you're brewing with increased nibs. I'm planning to brew one soon.
 

AlexKay

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If you're going the chocolate-from-malt route, I'd suggest trying chocolate rye. And even if you don't think it brings the chocolate, it's a wonderful malt.
 

tracer bullet

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I'd be interested in your notes on this next chocolate stout you're brewing with increased nibs. I'm planning to brew one soon.
Brewed today, note this was for a ~ 2.5 gallon beer so half of what I'd consider a normal recipe.

3 oz nibs in the mash (3 gallon beer total) gave it a very clear taste when checked halfway through the mash, it was delicious. At the end of the mash however I'm not sure I tasted much at all. One of the samples may have been a mixing issue, or perhaps the flavor somehow dissipated. Not sure.

3 oz nibs near the end of boil, at 10 minutes to go. After boiling, when I stuck in the chiller, I could smell chocolate for certain, but it wasn't strong. I have a "steam slayer" type setup so I actually wouldn't have smelled it until the end, if you wondered about that part. I chilled it, grabbed a sample before going into the fermenter so I could taste test and check final gravity. Not much chocolate smell from the sample but a very clear chocolate flavor that's got me pretty excited.

It'll be a few weeks before I can report how the beer turned out. But those are the notes so far. I do realize things went a bit back and forth from thinking the chocolate was there vs. not being so sure, but those were the observations!
 
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BongoYodeler

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If you're going the chocolate-from-malt route, I'd suggest trying chocolate rye. And even if you don't think it brings the chocolate, it's a wonderful malt.
I’ve recently designed a 9-ish % stout recipe using BS3 and I’ll likely brew it some time in November and let it age until winter ‘23. It’ll be my first time using chocolate rye as part of the grain bill. I’m looking forward to seeing what it brings.
 

InspectorJon

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You might take a look at this recipe for some insight on chocolate. @day_trippr

I have had good luck with cocoa powder in the boil and then nibs previously steeped in vodka in the fermentor after fermentation has died down.
 

SmoothBrews

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I’ve just soaked cocoa nips in Star San for a minute or two, then took them out and added them to secondary in cheesecloth before. Worked great.
 
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Already done a ton of research on this over the past couple years and I’ve managed to cause a train wreck in my head with all the possibilities. Of course, I want that one perfect solution – you know; the one that doesn’t exist – to maximize the chocolate flavors and aromas in my stout with the least amount of work/mess/cost/contamination/etc. This all started back in Georgia some years ago when I tasted a Fort Collins double chocolate stout at a brew fest (Secret Stash Bash) – very well balanced stout, not too big, but ample chocolate in the nose and on the palette. THAT is what I’m looking for.

I think I have managed to narrow it down to water- or alcohol-based extracts and roasted cocoa nibs in various stages of the brew. Never brewed a chocolate anything so there is no experience here. Plenty of porters and stouts to my credit, just nothing with chocolate other than chocolate malts. So far, these are the “basics” I have come up with for a 5-gallon batch size:

Chocolate Malt can be a blend of pale and regular chocolate malt for 10% of the grist.

Roasted cocoa nibs (medium or dark roast, or a blend of the two) can be used at a rate of up to 8 oz in a hop spider for the last 5 minutes of the boil.

Roasted cocoa nibs (medium or dark roast, or a blend of the two) can be used at a rate of up to 8 oz in the fermenter post-fermentation (or in secondary) for up to two weeks (would recommend a tincture here).

Up to 2 oz “good quality” chocolate extract in the keg prior to racking.

Seems to me the tincture and the extract I mention above could be one in the same. I could take 6 oz of roasted nibs and drop them in a Mason jar along with a vanilla bean slit up the middle and chopped into small pieces, cover with vodka or a nice dark rum, seal it up and let it sit for a week giving it a shake periodically. Run this through a coffee filter into another smaller jar, seal it up and pop it in the freezer overnight. Take out the next day and scrape off the fat layer on top and bada-bing! Extract! No?

Really just wondering what folks are doing these days to get that “wow” in their chocolate stouts, what with all the new products on the market now – Cholaca, “Brewer’s Blend” roasted nibs, etc. I’m looking to do a medium gravity (6% or so), don’t want too bitter or too sweet (.5 BU/GU or so), not like biting into a bar of 70% Scharffenberger, but definitely there in the nose and on the tongue.
Take look at Stone’s Anniversary Bitter chocolate oatmeal stout recipe. I’ve brewed it several times and even barrel aged it with bourbon cherries.
Outstanding beer
 

Witherby

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If you're going the chocolate-from-malt route, I'd suggest trying chocolate rye. And even if you don't think it brings the chocolate, it's a wonderful malt.

I've been wanting to try Weyermann Chocolate Spelt malt. It has the most ridiculously chocolate aroma wheel:

Chocolate-Spelt-Malt_Whole-Kernel-768x828.jpeg
 

tracer bullet

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It'll be a few weeks before I can report how the beer turned out.

In case anyone finds this thread on a search, it was good! I haven't tested specifically if it was the malt, the nibs early or late, or a combination but there was a clear chocolate flavor until the day I emptied the keg. It wasn't brownies exactly but these nibs never really had that smell to start with. More dark chocolate with the fruity things going on. The chocolate was never overwhelming, but it was very clearly there and IMO delicious.

You can see the amounts vs. gallons above if needed. Basically just double things for a 5 gallon brew day.
 

DonT

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If you're going the chocolate-from-malt route, I'd suggest trying chocolate rye. And even if you don't think it brings the chocolate, it's a wonderful malt.

I used some chocolate rye in an imperial stout I just made... it's at 1.030 from 1.105 and it has a nice chocolatey aroma and taste!

Where do you find the chocolate spelt? I searched around and couldn't find anything....
 

moon_street

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Just brewed a chocolate stout. Turned out great IMO. A dry stout with deep chocolate flavor. Kind of like drinking a very dark chocolate bar. Step mashed to dry it out a bit. Went from 1.060 down to 1.006 using US-05. Just a touch of crystal for some gauranteed residual sweetness. Added 4 oz of nibs to the fermenter. Too good.
 

Northern_Brewer

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See this thread - the former SIBA/CAMRA champion Saltaire Triple Chocoholic should be a pretty good benchmark for this kind of thing, see this thread which talks about chocolate beers in general :
 
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