Using cocoa nibs

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SRJHops

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The latest Brew Your Own mag has tips on using cocoa nibs in the mash, boil, and secondary. I'm going to give it a go with a chocolate dubbel, 5 gallons.

It's my first time using cocoa nibs and I'm looking for some advice. I've got 20 ounces. I plan to use maybe 4 ounces in both the mash and boil, and 12 ounces via vanilla-vodka tincture in secondary.

A few questions:

Do I need to worry about bitterness and/or perceived bitterness/astringency from the nibs? The guy at the LHBS said not to use them in the boil for this reason. I plan to target the low end of the IBU's for the style, but could go lower if I'm going to get bitterness from the nibs.

I have seen comments about the fat oil from the nibs, and skimming it off from the tincture. Is this correct?

Any other thoughts/advice about using the nibs? The sample recipe in BYO called for even more than 20 ounces, but they are not cheap and I didn't want to pony up for more...
 

mashpaddled

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These days most beers with cocoa nibs are pastry stouts where the nibs are poured into barrels or a bright tank without concern for fat content.

I'm not certain if astringency or bitterness is an issue with boiling nibs but I don't know why that would be the best use because you risk boiling off the more delicate flavors. I guess that could be something you would want to do. The best cocoa flavor IMO comes from cold side additions either in a tincture or adding them directly to the beer. The one time I soaked nibs in spirits I didn't have any appreciable fat content to remove.
 

Jag75

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I've never used them in the mash or boil before. I personally think they'd be wasted in the boil. Possibly even the mash . You will get a darker richer flavor in the mash . If you add them in the mash grind em up . I think they really shine in tinctures. I've added them after fermentation , which turned out good but don't leave in the beer too long or you'll get some astringency and bitterness .

I have a choc milk stout I'm fixing to keg on Thursday. I'm adding the tincture right before that . It's about 2.75 # of nibs and 40 vanilla beans .
 

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SRJHops

SRJHops

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I'll add just the liquid tincture . This is for a 2bbl batch. For a 5 to 5.5 gallon batch I use 4 oz of nibs and 4 or 5 vanilla beans .

I think I've settled on 10 ounces toward the end of the boil, then a tincture with 10 ounces. I plan to add the tincture AND the nibs (for 3 days) in secondary.
 

Rob2010SS

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I think I've settled on 10 ounces toward the end of the boil, then a tincture with 10 ounces. I plan to add the tincture AND the nibs (for 3 days) in secondary.

Good luck!! Seems like a lot to me but curious on how it comes out for you! The most I've used was 8oz in 6 gallons of an imperial stout, done as a tincture post fermentation and that was VERY chocolate forward.

I will say I’ve become a fan of roasting them. Roast them at 350F for 12-15 min and they give off a flavor more reminiscent of finished chocolate.
 
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SRJHops

SRJHops

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Good luck!! Seems like a lot to me but curious on how it comes out for you! The most I've used was 8oz in 6 gallons of an imperial stout, done as a tincture post fermentation and that was VERY chocolate forward.

I will say I’ve become a fan of roasting them. Roast them at 350F for 12-15 min and they give off a flavor more reminiscent of finished chocolate.

Thanks!

So, I did use 20 ounces of nibs. I roasted 10 ounces of the nibs in the oven. I put 5 ounces regular roasted nibs and 5 ounces of my extra roasted in the boil @10. Plus the same 5 +5 via vodka tincture (with the nibs too for 3 days) in secondary. Bottling this weekend so I can report back in 2 weeks or so.

Not sure if you saw article by John Nanci in BYO, but he theorized that 40 ounces would be the right amount for a 5 gal batch! I actually contacted him to see if that was correct, and he was very helpful. He said 32 would work, which is still a ton! He recommended half in the boil and half in secondary. He imports chocolate, so his costs must be a lot lower. Because 32 ounces would be really pricey. I spent $45 on 20 ounces of nibs at my LHBS.
 
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Dr_Jeff

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I actually contacted him to see if that was correct, and he was very helpful. He said 32 would work, which is still a ton! He recommended half in the boil and half in secondary. He imports chocolate, so his costs must be a lot lower. Because 32 ounces would be really pricey. I spent $45 on 20 ounces of nibs at my LHBS.

If I was an importer, I would also say more is better, for me, the more you buy, the more money I make. lol
 
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