Mexican Cake clone info - directly from Westbrook Brewery

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bolus14

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Forgot to mention I poured a couple shots worth of Jack Daniels over all the nibs, pepper, cinnamon, and vanilla, in hopes of ensuring there's nothing wild carrying into the fermenter. Really the vanilla ,being 40% alcohol should have done the trick, as well as the nibs coming right out of the oven, but just wanted to be sure this brew doesn't get ruined.
 

Abbas

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Finding this thread was perfect timing because I planned on brewing a big stout and didn't have a recipe/direction. Then I stumbled across this! I brewed this to give to my groomsmen for my wedding coming up next year.

I came up with a grain bill similar to several of the ones I found here and I included dextrose and 90 srm belgian candi.

I aimed for a 90 minute boil, but I was sloppy with my water measurements and had way too much wort in the boil kettle. I ended up extending my boil to about 110 minutes because my volume of wort was too high. Even with the additional boil time I ended up with with 6 gallons, maybe a touch over, going into my fermenter. My OG was at 1.102 when I was aiming for 1.113 so I was unfortunately pretty far off. Aside from that the rest of the brew day went smoothly.

I plan on adding the vanilla beans, habenero, cinnamon sticks, and cocao nibs in a couple weeks, but do have a few questions...

1) I'm using fresh vanilla beans and have never worked with them before. I know I need to open the bean, but should I just scrape out the inside of the shell or throw it all in the fermneter, shell and all?

2) Should I go with the cassia or ceylon cinnamon sticks?

3)How long should I keep the cocao nibs in the fermenter?
 

ten80

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Open and scrape the beans and throw everything in the fermenter, or what I prefer, a keg. The seeds have lots of flavor and opening up the pod increases flavor extraction from the flesh.

as for the cinnamon, I can't remember what I've used in beers, but take a read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnamon and maybe you'll be inspired to use a specific varietal.

I find that I get the best flavor from cacao nibs in a keg, perhaps because they don't get lost in the trub in the bottom of the fermenter. Either way, a 2-3 weeks contact (or more if I forget) has worked well for my stouts.
 
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bolus14

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For the cacao nibs make sure our roast them in the oven, you'll notice a big difference in aroma and taste. Raw, out of the container, theyre pretty bland, somewhat bitter, not much chocolate flavor. After roasting it's like eating dark chocolate just not quite as sweet. You should get the smell of brownies in your kitchen.
 

ten80

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My clone of this recipe is bubbling away contentedly with an OG of 1.095 and a nice starter of WLP075 Hansen Ale yeast blend (what I had on hand) at 62F. I did a couple things differently than the original recipe:

1. Didn't add any sugars to the boil. I plan to add 3 lbs of Trader Joe's "Mostly Mesquite" honey into the fermenter when the beer hits 1.040, then ramp the temperature to about 70F over the course of a week to encourage the yeast to ferment the honey. This dark, rich honey works great in stouts and plays well with spices. My adjusted OG should be about 1.114 after the honey addition.

2. Added 100g of organic cocoa powder, 4 cinnamon sticks, and 4 chopped dry ancho chile peppers at whirlpool and held the beer at 160F for about 20 minutes. Ancho chiles have a dark, rich flavor like dried plums with very little spice.

3. I will "dry hop" the keg with more cinnamon sticks, Cholaca chocolate extract (if needed), and split/scraped vanilla beans, then add in grim reaper pepper tincture until just a hint of spice is present. 3 grim reaper peppers in 200 mL of your favorite spirit is enough to spice about 13 gallons of cloyingly sweet mead (ask me how I know!).

Tasting an initial hydrometer sample at 1.060 made me think that there was insufficient chocolate and roast presence, but those flavors are starting to come through nicely when the gravity dropped to 1.045.
 

bolus14

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The flavors are going to change a lot as this ages, mine did. At times not much toast, then too much roast and bitterness, and eventually settles into good mild flavors of roast and chocolate. I haven't sampled since adding the spices, likely will tonight and if all is good will be bottling this weekend...hopefully. I want to have it ready to at least be able to have a bottle or two at Thanksgiving. Might still need some time to age, but will still have a couple if I get it bottled and carbonated. At this point there should be plenty of time.
 

Abbas

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For the cacao nibs make sure our roast them in the oven, you'll notice a big difference in aroma and taste. Raw, out of the container, theyre pretty bland, somewhat bitter, not much chocolate flavor. After roasting it's like eating dark chocolate just not quite as sweet. You should get the smell of brownies in your kitchen.

I didn't even think about that. I used nibs before and just added them to some vodka to sterilize. How long and what temp would you recommend roasting them at?
 

bolus14

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I did mine at 325 for 15min. You may have to adjust the time depending on how much they are broken up.
 
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ten80

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I did mine at 325 for 15mon.

I'm definitely going to try this! I've used cacao nibs straight out of the bag in the past and the flavor contribution was "light chocolate" with some tannic dryness. I may do side-by-side cacao nib in whiskey tinctures to evaluate the difference.
 

bolus14

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I pulled a hydro sample today to see how the spices are coming along and it's ready to bottle.
There's more heat from the Reeper than I want so I'm hoping that tones down over time, which it should. Otherwise, it's very close to what I recall Mexican Cake tasting like, mine might not be as sweet, but the FG is lower too so somewhat expected.
 

ten80

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Otherwise, it's very close to what I recall Mexican Cake tasting like, mine might not be as sweet, but the FG is lower too so somewhat expected.

Have you contemplated back-sweetening in the keg? Lactose would work and I've used sorbitol in various ciders and beer, it has a very neutral flavor and 100g per 5-gallons is a good starting point. Some sweetness will balance the heat. If it's a little thin, you can add about 100g of malto-dextrine dissolved in 50 mL boiling water, chill, then mix into keg.

Pepper spice should fade slowly with time, especially as the beer drops clear.
 

bolus14

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I'm bottling not kegging so back sweetening isn't an option. I thought about using a half to a whole pound of lactose, but I have more or decided against it.

The sample I took didn't seem thin to me, so I don't want to mess with it at this point. If anything the chocolate could "pop" a little more but it could be fine and just getting a little.muted by the heat. I know the heat will fade, just a question of how quickly. And, potentially the sample might be hotter than it will be in the bottle since I took it from the top of the fermenter and maybe the pepper just hasn't mix all the way through, which will happen when I transfer to the bottling bucket.

At this point I don't want to mess with it, if anything it will be a baseline for where to start with future batches. If it's good and just too spicy then the same amount or a touch more of habanero is likely a good place to start. I only used about 1/4-1/3 of the Carolina Reeper that I had, if the whole batch does end up being like the sample I would have never guessed that the small amount of pepper could contribute that much heat to 5 gallons of thick beer.
 

ten80

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I'm bottling not kegging so back sweetening isn't an option.

Sure you can, just add some sorbitol to your usual bottle priming solution containing dextrose. Off the cuff, I'd say use 100 grams / 50 bottles = ~2g sorbitol per bottle for a noticeable but not cloying sweetness. The sorbitol won't ferment out.

My mexican cake beer is done fermenting at 1.026 from a calculated 1.115 OG. BRY-97 was a good yeast choice as far as I can tell, a single rehydrated packet chewed through the malt and 3 lbs of honey in 9 days and there are no off-flavors. The ancho chile pepper flavor is coming through more now that there's less residual sweetness. Time to keg, add cinnamon tincture, fine with gelatine, then bottle this brew!
 

bolus14

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Yeah, could do that but I've always tried to stay away from adding artificial sweeteners.
Anyway, I tasted a bottle today, knowing it wouldn't be carbonated much, and so far it's pretty good.
The heat from the Reeper is still more noticable than I'd like but it's mellowed since bottling just 5 days ago.
It's plenty sweet where it is, a little more might bring out a little more chocolate, but it's good where it is.

I'll wait till Tuesday, out a few bottles in the fridge and then drink on Thanksgiving.
 

ten80

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Yeah, could do that but I've always tried to stay away from adding artificial sweeteners.

Sorbitol is a natural sugar found in fruits including pears, prunes, peaches, etc., but I digress.

The toasted cacao nibs are INCREDIBLE, I added about 4-6 oz to my keg and they added a rich chocolate flavor like the caramelized edges of a chocolate cake that is just out of the oven. It's a multi-layered chocolate flavor that has a surprising amount of complexity. I will probably have to take the beer off the nibs in a day or so because I'm not sure I need more flavor after a day. Now to add in some reaper pepper tincture to bring up the heat.
 

bolus14

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I'll have to look in to Sorbitol, I've heard of it just lumped it into the family of other artificial sweeteners.

Mine sat in the nibs, and other spices, for a week I think and while it's still young for this size beer it could use a little more of the chocolate flavors. It could be the heat of the pepper hiding the chocolate too. If you're using any amount of reapers, I would tell you to use one or two small slivers, chop them up finely, and put them in. Give it a couple days and then pull a sample. I used 4 thin slivers of the pepper and I'm pretty sure it's too much for a lot of people.
 

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Hi all,

I realized I hadn't posted an update on the recipe I brewed around this time last year. The recipe I followed can be found on page 2.

Here are some thoughts I had about the beer:

- If I had to do this all over again, I would probably mash a bit higher than 150 F or add some lactose to the boil. The body was a bit thin for my taste. However, I was still very pleased with the finished product and I brought some to my family Christmas party where it received rave reviews. They might be a bit biased but, hey, I will take it. :yes:

- For the tincture I made, I would personally do 3 vanilla beans instead of 2 and up the cacao nibs to 4-6 oz. I like the idea of roasting them first as I can concur that raw nibs add a little chocolate flavor, but not much. 2 cinnamon sticks and 2 chopped habanero peppers were right on the money for me, though. The heat from the peppers was there, but not harsh. It was a nice rise and fall of the heat and it really complemented the other flavors.

- Next time, I will sub bourbon for vodka to soak everything in as I think that will add some nice flavors to the beer. Also, soaking everything for two weeks seemed to yield good extraction of all the spices, so I think that is probably the minimum time I would let it sit. And on my original thread, I said I was soaking in 1 qt. of vodka, but it was actually 1 pint. :drunk:


Anyway, this beer was fun to make (if a bit expensive) and delicious. I hope these comments helped in some way. I will try to remain more active on this thread, as I am very interested to see what people come up with.

Cheers! :mug:
 

bolus14

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I'll comment on mine now that it's been bottled for a little over a month.

The heat from the reaper is about where I like it, might still be a little hot for some though. The cinnamon is a little strong next time I'll back off if it just a touch.

The body of mine is nice and thick, I get 3/4 in to an inch of dark foam that slowly fades, but is more than I have seen with most RIS brews. I carbonated to 1.9 Vols which some might say is low, but I've been bottling all of mine to that and like it.

I used 9oz of nibs and it's good. I used vanilla extract because it's what I had at the time, but I could 3 or 4 be a seeing good, especially since it fades.
 

sborz22

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I brewed a clone of this last night and this will be my first attempt at such a large beer as well as my first attempt at any sort of real aging.

My malt bill was:

14lbs 2 row
1.5 lbs chocolate malt
1 lb Caramel 120
1 lb Flaked Oats
2 lbs corn sugar directly into fermenter

I used Warrior hops at 60 minutes which contributed roughly 60 ibu's

I used S-04 from a super large starter- my guess is around 500 billion cells

I shot for a gravity of 1.103 and got 1.094 so although not super great I am still pleased enough with the gravity. My batch size was on point, right at 5.25 into the fermenter.

Mash consisted of 4 grams gypsum, 3 grams CaCl, 3 grams MgSo4 and 2 grams of Slaked lime. Got my PH to 5.5 right where I was shooting for.

My plan is to use 8 oz of cocoa nibs, 3 cinnamon stick, 2 chopped vanilla beans and 2-3 habeneros once this beast is done fermenting. I am going to bottle in about 6 weeks and then let it age in the bottles for at least 3 months before I give it a taste test....or so I tell myself now.

I will update when I add my goodies to the fermenter!
 

paarman

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Thanks for the details. I am planning on brewing this later this year, I'll make sure to follow up with my process/findings.
 

ten80

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I brewed a clone of this last night and this will be my first attempt at such a large beer as
I shot for a gravity of 1.103 and got 1.094 so although not super great I am still pleased enough with the gravity. My batch size was on point, right at 5.25 into the fermenter.

Same thing happened to me, so I added 3 lbs of mesquite honey to the fermenter at high krausen and the result was amazing, the honey really added some nice sweet notes, boosted the alcohol, and thinned the body a smidge to a very "crushable" level for a 12.7% beer. Be sure to degas the fermenter before pouring any sugars or else....
 

sborz22

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UPDATE:

Added my non-grain additions to the fermenter today.

I took a gravity sample and was shocked to see that I hit 80 percent attenuation. Although this makes me wonder if my hydrometer is off at all I still think the beer is at 9-10 percent due to one reason- my taste. I know its a young dark beer but damn was that a boozy punch in the back of the throat!

I am letting all of this marry in my fermenter for 5 days then it is off to bottles for a few months.


I brewed this up on Sunday:

16 lbs Briess 2-Row
1.5 lbs Chocolate 350L
1 lb Crystal 120L
0.75 lb Flaked Oats
18 oz Turbinado Sugar @ Flameout
16 oz Belgian Candi Syrup 90L @ Flameout
1.3 oz Columbus (17.8%AA) @ 60 min

Mashed at 150F for 90 min. Temp drifted quite a bit, hopefully it's not too dry.
Got distracted by visitors and added way too much water for my batch sparge, decided i'd let it mash for an hour while I boiled off some extra volume from the first runnings. Slowly added the second runnings and then boiled until I thought my volume was right. Added 60 min hops and continued as normal. When I got it moved into the fermenter, I had 4 gallons of wort that was higher than 1.300 (top end of my hydrometer). Decided to add some filtered water so my volume would be 5 gallons which brought my OG down to 1.112. Pitched a ton of WLP002 yeast cake I harvested from an english bitter a couple weeks ago. It had a slow start which really surprised me, so at 48hours I gave it another shot of pure O2 and a teaspoon of yeast nutrient and it has been blowing out my blowoff tube ever since. Struggling to keep temp down (wrapped in a wet towel in my bathtub and adding ice to the water in the tub, so far highest I've seen is 73). Got my tincture ready and really looking forward to this beer. Hope all my misadventures in making this beer don't hurt it too badly.
 

ten80

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This recipe rocks! My version with 3 lbs mesquite honey and Carolina Reaper pepper tincture has scored very high in two small competitions so far. I thought the fresh beer (1 month old) had more rich flavor, but the 4 month old beer's success surprised me.

I would also mash a little higher for more body, especially if adding additional sugars. That said, mine finished around 1.025 or so and is very quaffable for 13.7%.
 

h0psnobery

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I find that I get the best flavor from cacao nibs in a keg, perhaps because they don't get lost in the trub in the bottom of the fermenter. Either way, a 2-3 weeks contact (or more if I forget) has worked well for my stouts.

Do you throw the nibs loose into the keg or do you wrap them up in some sort of bag?
 

ten80

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Do you throw the nibs loose into the keg or do you wrap them up in some sort of bag?

I put the toasted nibs in a nylon hop sack that is weighted down with stainless nut. When the flavor is right, I pressure-transfer to a CO2-purged keg. Keep in mind that the first samples off the nibbed keg will have strong flavor as you're pulling right from the beer immediately in contact with the nibs, unless you take the time to swirl the keg every now and then to mix it and even out the flavor.
 

paarman

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I'm preparing to brew this in September, trying to get my recipe/ingredients together.. There are so many different versions of this posted here, anyone who has brewed this lately-what worked, what didn't work, and what did you end up for your recipe? Thanks in advance! I'm currently working off of the conversion I did scaled down from the screenshot on page 2 I think.

Also, which yeast is everyone using?
 
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bolus14

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This recipe rocks! My version with 3 lbs mesquite honey and Carolina Reaper pepper tincture has scored very high in two small competitions so far. I thought the fresh beer (1 month old) had more rich flavor, but the 4 month old beer's success surprised me.

I would also mash a little higher for more body, especially if adding additional sugars. That said, mine finished around 1.025 or so and is very quaffable for 13.7%.
Either your reaper was a lot weaker than mine, or doing a tincture lessens the heat. Because mine seem to gain heat after the first few weeks in the bottle, and I only added 3 or 4 really thin strips to the fermenter in mine.

I'm making a RIS in the next week or so, might return to this recipe, but not add any adjuncts except the vanilla beans. The cinnamon and peppers are a nice addition, I'm just looking for something "less," I guess.
 

ten80

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Either your reaper was a lot weaker than mine, or doing a tincture lessens the heat.

I think you're misunderstanding. My reaper peppers were HOT HOT HOT! I put 3 peppers into ~150 mL of fruit brandy, let them soak for a month, then added ~3-4 drops of the tincture to each bottle. I put a drop on my tongue and AIE! Lengua en fuego!

the advantage of a tincture is that the heat can be carefully added to the beer in measured amounts, versus adding peppers directly to the fermenter, for which resulting the heat is sometimes difficult to predict. I think that adding a tincture also results in a more stable heat over time as only soluble pepper oils/aromatics are added to the beer.
 

bolus14

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Gotcha. Yea I know tinctures allow more precision. I thought I was taking it easy with only 4 slivers of a reaper, and it first it seemed like I guessed right. Over time though the heat just increased.
 

DromJohn

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My attempt.

155F 45 min
20 oz Roasted Barley
20 oz Chocolate
13 oz English Extra Dark Crystal
8 oz Flaked Oats
4 oz Black

60 boil
.75 oz Columbus (60 min)
12 lb Bries Organic Golden Light LME (60 min)
1 lb Dextose (60 min)
10 oz Belgian Dark Candi-Sugar (60 min)

WLP002 English Ale
1 week primary

2 vanilla beans
8 oz cocoa nibs
2 g ground cinnamon
2 habanero peppes
2 weeks secondary

3 weeks bottle condition
First taste 20 November 2021
Drom John Westbrook Mexican Cake.png
 
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