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RyPA

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I am ready to condition a 5 gallon batch of oatmeal stout on 6 vanilla beans, 4-8oz organic cacao nibs, and 3 lbs of organic unsweetened coconut.

I scraped the vanilla beans tonight and have the inside stuff and carcasses soaking in just enough bourbon to barely cover them.

For cacao nibs I'm torn between soaking them in bourbon too, or just baking for 20-30 minutes before adding them to the fermenter. I obviously want to avoid making my stout taste like bourbon so I'm hesitant on giving them a soak like I am the vanilla beans.

For the coconut, I plan to toast slightly on paper towels, dab off all oil, and put them in.

All additions are going in commando. My fermenter has a screened floating dip tube and I will closed transfer the goodness to a keg when the additions get done with their business.

Any suggestions from those with experience is appreciated.
 
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tracer bullet

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On the bourbon, you'll have to predict how much bourbon will give you the flavor you are after. I've found it's very little - I've added a dash to a glass before pouring a stout on top of it, and it's pretty noticeable even in small volumes. Something like an ounce of it per gallon of beer might be a starting point, and if you're concerned go less like 2 ounces for a whole 5 gallon batch (including what the vanilla is in). It's something you can add more of, but not take out. Then again... might need more to shine through those other flavors (I've used it alone but not with the others).

I think you'll also find that the bourbon you use will be important as well - sipping them of course they are not all the same, and in beer in small amounts I think you'll find something similar. A scotch, bourbon, rye, etc. will all do different things.
 
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RyPA

RyPA

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I think for the vanilla beans I have maybe an ounce, and I am thinking this is little enough to not be noticeable in a 5 gallon roasty batch of stout.

I am hoping that I can get enough flavor out of the cacao nibs by just baking them for a bit. Having never used them before, I am not sure if 4oz is hardly noticeable or close to overpowering.
 

day_trippr

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The major issue with extracting flavor from nibs is...beer doesn't do a very good job on its own.
I would recommend using at least a highly neutral spirit to marinate the nibs for a week, giving the container a good agitation daily.
Many use vodka, some use grain alcohol.
fwiw, I use dark rum for this task. It's perfect for my imperial chocolate stout...

Cheers!
 

Leezer

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I’m not an expert but I often make a 2.5 G chocolate stout. The first time I made it I used 2oz nibs and it came out great. But I decided I wanted more chocolate and upped the nibs to 4oz. I did get more chocolate flavor, but it seemed to override the other roasty stout flavors. I decided to go back to 2oz.
Rather than roasting the nibs, I soak them in vodka and add nibs and vodka to the fermenter once vigorous fermentation has subsided. Although in my latest batch I just added the vodka in which the nibs had been soaking for about 6 weeks. That one was kegged yesterday so I’ll see how it works out.
 

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I've found that soaking nibs in beer or alcohol are similar. I can have an ounce of nibs in a shot glass, pour some stout on it, cover with a piece of saran wrap and a few days later pitch the liquid into a glass then pour more stout on top of it to drink. It's very similar in result to doing the same procedure with vodka soaked nibs, as far as chocolate flavor goes. I've found no difference anyhow. I do like the small amount of vodka (but I like drier (vs sweeter) stouts).

I used to use straight nibs but like the toasted flavors better. Straight is more dark, fruity, and great. But I am after the brownies flavor and so I toast them nowadays.

I'd say try what you think you will like and tweak from there. Everyone has a different goal and opinion (and experiences).
 
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RyPA

RyPA

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I feel like vodka has such a terrible flavor to begin with that it could not present anything desirable to a stout...bourbon on the other hand I think would compliment it.

@tracer bullet how pronounced is the chocolate flavor when added dry/toasted to 5 gallons of a dry stout?
 
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Beer666

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I toast raw nibs at 100c for 15 minutes. Same with coconut but it takes longer to brown and will need stirring.
 

tracer bullet

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I feel like vodka has such a terrible flavor to begin with that it could not present anything desirable to a stout...bourbon on the other hand I think would compliment it.

@tracer bullet how pronounced is the chocolate flavor when added dry/toasted to 5 gallons of a dry stout?

Well, keep in mind everyone has different taste buds... but for a 6% or so stout I've found 2 oz is "just" perceptible, and 4 oz is about where I like it, there's some clear chocolate that you don't have to go search for but it's not in your face either (it's not OMG yeah chocolate-y). I haven't gone higher. I'm also only on my 3rd brew with chocolate in the beer vs. a tincture (nibs soaked and a few ml added to the glass just before pouring) so FYI I'm not at the expert level with this yet.

Hopefully some others will say what they do so you can get more than one opinion on what to shoot for.

I use a local vodka, JL Carver "Lake House", it's so smooth it can be drank straight and has a slight vanilla flavor when no actual vanilla was added. I hated vodka up until discovering this one, and I kind of actually enjoy it. You can make a (very) stiff white Russian and not even notice it in there. It doesn't ruin the beer at all. I'm probably lucky that way.
 

RCope

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I've done that combination...I soaked the roasted 4 oz of cocoa nibs in vodka for a week or so, added everything into the fermentor after fermentation was complete. Added 12 oz (one package of Red Mill) toasted coconut at the same time. Used 3 vanilla beans soaked in vodka but just pitched the liquid, strained out the husks. But I bagged the nibs and the coconut in hop bags suspended by dental floss and weighted with a stainless steel bolt. I think if all was left commando it would be a challenging transfer. I use SS Brewtech Bucket fermentors. The result was excellent and well balanced.

I've done 24 oz of coconut before...it was too much. Your results may vary...Cheers! Rick
 
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RyPA

RyPA

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I ended up doing the below:

Vanilla beans - 6 beans - Split, scraped, chopped and put in barely enough bourbon to cover everything, tossed into fermenter commando. It smelled great when I opened the container.
Cacao nibs - 4 oz - Slightly baked, put in muslin bag
Coconut - 3 lbs - Lightly toasted and thrown in commando.. I did not realize how much coconut 3 lbs is -- it's a lot. I found the toaster oven set to toast was much faster, you just need to keep an eye on it. If this doesn't come out awesome, I'll likely never do it again, and figure something out with extracts.

My thought process is the cacao nibs have a strong flavor, so I will likely want to take them out eventually. Whereas with the coconut, I feel like I will be struggling to get flavor from it, so I will likely leave it in there until I rack to a keg. For the vanilla, I don't foresee this having an overbearing flavor, so I thought it was ok to leave in there as long as the coconut until keg day.

On keg day, my plan is to put on some gloves and take handfuls of coconut and squeeze the beer out and move said coconut to the trash, rinse and repeat.
PXL_20220222_233315135.jpg

PXL_20220222_235052838.jpg
 

tracer bullet

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Nice. That sounds like a lot of vanilla, but at this point ya gotta go with it! Good luck.

Thanks for the update. If you remember, let us know later how it was. We all learn from each other.
 
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RyPA

RyPA

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@tracer bullet this stout is pretty rich, I'm honestly hoping that the coconut and vanilla come through. The cacao nibs have a pronounced flavor so I expect them to make their presence known. Going to give it a taste test this Friday and will definitely report back.
 

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Personally I think the nibs might get lost in the mix. WOW that is a lot of coconut and vanilla for a 5 gallon batch. I did commando 1 time on coconut, never again! I usually put 1 pound in a bag now. I think you will definitely have to find a way to remove the coconut as it will bunch up and clog any means of removal or at least send 10 million bubbles through with the beer as you are transferring. As a back up to your by hand plan maybe a small mesh strainer before you start to cold crash so the coconut still floats to the top. Coconut is stubborn when cold crashing commando some drops and some doesn't. I would imaging this will beer will lean towards coconut dominant. Let us know the results. :bigmug:
 

tracer bullet

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Personally I think the nibs might get lost in the mix.

I have to say I think so as well. I started typing it but didn't want to sound discouraging. 4 oz nibs might pair well with a single vanilla bean and a handful of coconut. This has... kind of a lot more vanilla and coconut. Not sure if there's enough nibs for that. And if they get bumped up... might be less like beer and more like a syrup topping for other uses. But, yeah, given the other ingredients more nibs is a consideration here.

Can always just drink small amounts at a time. This won't be something you have a few pints of in a single sitting.
 
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RyPA

RyPA

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@superiorsat Yes, I will squeeze beer out of the coconut by hand, and in my fermenter I have a screened/filtered floating dip tube to prevent anything from going to my keg. I expect to lose a little beer from the coconut, but hope to eliminate the majority by wringing it out before the transfer.

@tracer bullet I took a taste today because I'm inpatient. I already detect a slight coconut nose, but no distinguishable coconut taste, maybe slight chocolate, but that could be the chocolate or roasted malts giving me a false positive.

If the other flavors get lost, I am ok with it, my main focus is coconut flavor, which is why I was generous with the additions. With the dark malts in this beer, I was thinking this would contribute to a chocolate flavor and help the nibs out...I do have 4 more oz that I can add. I added the vanilla thinking it may help the chocolate and coconut. I also have 1# of lactose that I may add a few ounces of when I go to keg, not sure on this yet though as I dont want to ruin the beer.
 
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RyPA

RyPA

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To give you guys an update, it is a disappointment. The coconut was a bit annoying to work with, and the final beer has maybe a faint coconut scent, but no coconut flavor, which is disappointing for 3 lbs. I am likely never doing this type of beer again, I'll just stick to extracts.

It has only been in the keg for 2 days, so maybe time will help the situation.
 

day_trippr

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Ok, coconut has a reputation for being difficult, to the point I've never even attempted to use it.
But, how were the vanilla and 'nibs character levels? Did they meet expectations/desires?

Cheers!
 
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RyPA

RyPA

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Hard to say, the roasted malts in the stout kind of hide it, cant really tell if I'm tasting chocolate or roasted/chocolate malt. I'm hoping it improves over time. Mind you, it's still a good tasting stout and I'm going to drink it, just did not meet my expectations.
 

superiorsat

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Once your beer drops cleaner you will taste it more. The darker you toast the coconut the more it comes through ( your photo looked light toasted ) and the less oil it contributes. I've never had head retention problems. and I have used coconut more than a dozen times. My coconut goes in the fermenter before the wort and spends 13 days in the fermenter until kegging. I weight it down with tri-clover caps or clamps. 1 pound in a 6 gallon batch of roasty/bold milk stout and it usually comes through quite well ( roast is up front coconut on the finish ). I put a pound very lightly toasted in a cream ale and coconut was almost nonexistent, if you didn't tell people it was in there they could miss it.
 
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RyPA

RyPA

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So your beer ferments on\with the coconut straight from pitching?
 

superiorsat

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Yes. Seems to me any fruit addition comes through better from the start. I used to add after things were winding down but all my fruit goes in before wort now. Get more bang for the buck.
 

superiorsat

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No problems with incomplete fermentation. Yeast are not as lazy as people say. Lol.
 
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RyPA

RyPA

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Ok, so you may have just convinced me to give it another shot in the future. I agree, I did too think my roast was on the light side. It was a lot of coconut to deal with at one time and after an hour or so I was kind of like 'ok, it's toasted coconut now' once I saw it had some color. In the future, I will spend some time toasting it correctly and try throwing it in with the wort from pitch. It will be a lot easier dealing with 1 lb vs 3 lb. And definitely using a bag of some sort.

A brewery near me makes this imperial milk stout conditioned on cacao nibs and coconut and it's hands down my favorite beer. They release it around St Patricks day and I'm likely going to buy a case since it has a long shelf life. I was trying to replicate this, but not the imperialness.
 

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Of course I’m late to this party….
But I’ve had good luck tossing cocoa nibs in a hot frying pan for just a couple of minutes to “wake” them up. I have an electric stove and set it for medium. You can tell when they’re ready. They’ll go from that chalky color to a deep brown. Just be sure to not overdo it. They’ll start to smell roast and burnt. At that point it’s too late.
I’ve done this several times and added to stouts and porters. I always reduce the amount of nibs slightly as well.
 

superiorsat

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To make toasting easier for you I'll explain how I do it. I get the largest rectangle baking sheet I have and cover it with tinfoil. Leave excess off each of the sides for sealing later. Evenly spread coconut and toast in the oven at 325 or less ( less is easier to keep an eye on it with out it getting away on you if can't just sit there the whole time an watch it. ). Keep an eye to stir once the top layer is toasted to about medium then stir up as much white coconut as possible and repeat until about 90% is toasted. By now the original top layer is getting pretty heavily toasted so I stop. I take it out and more or less pinch the tin foil together on the top and fold over which makes a big tube off tin foil and fold the ends over I usually set back in for a minute or two to sanitize anything that might have slipped in during my folding process. Take out and let cool will brewing. When you are done brewing I take a bag that has been boiled along with the weights and drop it into starsan to cool it quick. I spray the tinfoil tube with starsan and take the bag and fill it by dumping the tube in and tie it off an put in fermenter. That baking sheet and tinfoil trick works for many additions for example dry peanut butter tubed up at 170 degrees for an hour makes me feel better about adding it to the fermenter ( I also put this in from the start of fermentation ). The cocoa nibs we do the same way at the coconut. We oven bake them at 250 degrees for 10 minutes, turn off the oven and take out wrap and put back in for 15 minutes and the take out and cool. My wife and I did a a few small sample test runs on the nibs and found at this time and temperature gave us the best dark chocolate flavor so I've stuck with it ever since.
 
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RyPA

RyPA

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I did the oven method as well, on a large baking sheet with a bed of paper towels under the coconut, and I then dabbed the top layer every 5-10 minutes when I did a flip/shuffle of the coconut to allow all coconut to get some toast. This process was pretty slow and I ended up finding a much faster way of doing this using my toaster oven, which gave approximately 1 ft by 8 inch surface area. I set it to broil and I can literally watch it brown in real time, pull out and shuffle the coconut, and put it back in, rinse and repeat. The next time around I will do this approach, except toast much darker. I will likely also use a muslin bag the next time around, instead of commando, as this was a mess.
 
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