What you need to know about chocolate for brewing

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Edcculus

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I see a lot of questions come up about how to use chocolate in brewing. The replies I see show that there is a general misunderstanding of the chocolate making process. This past semester, I took a class through the horticulture department called "Vines, Wines and Brews". It focused on the use, production and history of coffee, tea, beer, wine and chocolate.

I want to impart my new knowledge of chocolate so it can be best used in the brewing process.

Chocolate is made from the seed of the Cacao plant (Theobroma cacao). This plant thrives withing 10* of the Equator. The pods resemble rough footballs.

To understand how we can use chocolate in brewing, we need to know the cultivation, harvesting and processing methods.



On the "farm"
-The pods are harvested


-workers split open the pods


-the beans and white gunky stuff are spread on mats
-Since the mucilage is slightly sweet, the covered beans undergo a kind of fermentation. Yeast eat on the sweet mucilage. This does several things. Of course it cleans off the beans. More importantly, fermentation creates heat, which chemically changes the seeds. If producers skipped this process, your chocolate would not taste good.
-the beans are washed then dried in the sun to around 5% moisture (like coffee)
-they are sent like this to manufacturers.


"at the manufacturer"

-the seeds are sorted then roasted
-seeds are dehusked (dehusked seeds are called nibs)
-the nibs are ground up into a paste called cocoa mass or cocoa liquor. The nibs are so high in fat that they make a pasty substance when ground. This is unlike coffee which makes a powder when ground.


From here, 2 things can be done:

-the mass goes into a press. The press seperates the cocoa solids from the fat. This leaves cocoa powder (solids) and cocoa butter (fat).

OR


-the mass goes into normal chocolaate production where it is liquefied again and blended with sugar, vanilla, more cocoa butter and sometimes milk.


I think some people might be confused on nibs vs. powder. Really, you get more flavor from the powder since it is around 95% cocoa solids. Nibs are really mostly fat. I think some people might be under the opinion that powder=ground nibs, which is not true. Cocoa powder is also not inferior than nibs. That being said, a lot of people have had great success using cocoa nibs in beer. Experiment to see what works best for you.

Now if you really want to get technical, you need to look into what variety your cocoa is. In terms of coffee, forestaro=robusto, criollo=arabica. Unlike coffee though, criollo beans are VERY expensive and hard to grow. The are known for their earthy/fruity taste. Forestaro grows easily and is resistant to disease. It makes an inferior chocolate though. Most of the chocolate in production is of the Forestaro variety.



Quick Lookup for chocolate terms:

Bean: un-roasted seed from a cacao pod
Cocoa Nibs: roasted, de-hulled cocoa beans
Cocoa Powder: mostly pure cocoa solids which cocoa butter (fat) has been pressed out of
Cocoa Mass: Ground up nibs. A thick pasty substance resembling thick melted chocolate
Criollo: A variety of T. cacao that produces complex flavored chocolate
Forestaro: The commonly grown variety of T. Cacao that is easy to grow
 

z987k

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good write up. I always use powder after using nibs and noticing that not only are they more expensive, but impart less flavor.
 

Fingers

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VERY interesting thread. Thanks for posting this. I had no idea the process was so varied.
 

Zul'jin

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I made the mistake as a kid of eating cocoa powder (baking powder). It was not good. Very bitter and dusty tasting.

What happens in the wort and fermentation to change that bad flavor? Is it sweetened by the sugars in the wort even though most of those are fermented out? Is the cocoa itself fermented?
 

s3n8

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I think this should be a sticky or added to the wiki if it has not already been.
 

david_42

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What happens in the wort and fermentation to change that bad flavor? Is it sweetened by the sugars in the wort even though most of those are fermented out? Is the cocoa itself fermented?
Bitter flavor is normal in beer, so the cocoa blends in. Also, much less concentrated in the beer. Eat a couple pellets of Warrior and you'll understand.

Pastor Dave of the Original Church of Chocolate approves of this thread. For more information see "The Chocolate Bible" by Christian Teubner
 
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Edcculus

Edcculus

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I made the mistake as a kid of eating cocoa powder (baking powder). It was not good. Very bitter and dusty tasting.

What happens in the wort and fermentation to change that bad flavor? Is it sweetened by the sugars in the wort even though most of those are fermented out? Is the cocoa itself fermented?
A lot of chocolate stout recipes call for some lactose to sweeten the beer up some too. Also, the residual sugars bring out the typical chocolate taste.
 

ChshreCat

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Thanks for pointing that out. Typo!
I figured that with all that information you had, that had to by a typo and not what you actually thought they were. heheh

Cocoa nibs are one of my favorite things. I just like to munch 'em. When I do my chocolate stout, I think I'll do cocoa nibs in the secondary. That might not be the best way to get chocolate into it, but it's just want I wanna do.

Nice info, btw.
 
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Edcculus

Edcculus

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Keep me posted on the cocoa nibs. I'm interested to see the results. Obviously, the nibs contain much more fat than powder. In theory, more fat in beer=bad. The thing is, I see so many people say they have good results with nibs. If fat is so bad in beer, why are nibs working?

My guess:
-You don't grind the nibs, so you get minimal fat extraction.
-Nibs people buy are probably higher quality than the nibs most mega-mart cocoa powder is derived from. Better beans mean better flavor. If you doubt this, try a Hershey's Special Dark bar next to a high quality bar, preferably from Trinitario beans that is at least 50% cocoa. You will notice that the Hersheys tastes like wax while the higher quality bar (from higher quality beans) tastes tangy/bitter with an underlying sweetness that melts pleasantly in your mouth.
 

reanime

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You will notice that the Hersheys tastes like wax while the higher quality bar (from higher quality beans) tastes tangy/bitter with an underlying sweetness that melts pleasantly in your mouth.
I heard once, and mind it could be urban legend... Chocolate in the U.S. (especially companies like Hershey) are actually allowed a certain amount of food grade wax in their chocolate. I may be crazy but I have noticed that plain chocolate in Canada (Quebec) actually tastes better than in the U.S. apparently for that reason. Allegedly they are not allowed to use such ingredients in Canada...
 

CreeDakota

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Great chocolate lesson! I would love more tips from others on brewing with chocolate. Do you add cocoa powder during the boil? Mash? Add an liquid infusion at secondary? I think most of the 'chocolate' beers I have had were actually made with chocalate malted barley and not cocoa.

Maybe just reading Edcculus' recipe for Macadamia Nut Chocolate Stout would satisfy me?!
 
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Edcculus

Edcculus

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I heard once, and mind it could be urban legend... Chocolate in the U.S. (especially companies like Hershey) are actually allowed a certain amount of food grade wax in their chocolate. I may be crazy but I have noticed that plain chocolate in Canada (Quebec) actually tastes better than in the U.S. apparently for that reason. Allegedly they are not allowed to use such ingredients in Canada...
I wouldn't doubt it. I never noticed until recently. We did a chocolate tasting in the class I learned all this in. It was a class I took for fun last semester before I graduated called Vines, Wines and Brews. All about the production, manufacture, making and tasting of coffee, tea, beer, wine and chocolate. Our chocolate tasting consisted of chocolates that were 75% cocoa, 60% ,45%, the Hershey's Special Dark (which I believe is 30%), and a milk chocolate. To properly do a tasting, you start with the highest cocoa % and work your way down. That way, you aren't getting noticeable bitter each time. The first three were amazing. Then the Hersheys. It was hard, did not shine, dull snap, and did not melt the way the others did.

Great chocolate lesson! I would love more tips from others on brewing with chocolate. Do you add cocoa powder during the boil? Mash? Add an liquid infusion at secondary? I think most of the 'chocolate' beers I have had were actually made with chocalate malted barley and not cocoa.

Maybe just reading Edcculus' recipe for Macadamia Nut Chocolate Stout would satisfy me?!
Most "chocolate" beer contains chocolate malt. A lot of people have been adding actual chocolate. I think a good consensus has been to mix it with a small amount of water and bring it just shy of a boil in a saucepan. Whisk to make sure the cocoa breaks up and gets incorporated. Add this at flameout.

Funny thing about that stout. It was VERY good. Until my roomate decided to add 4 oz of macadamia nut extract. Now it tastes like ****. I dont want to post a recipe that isn't tried and true.
 

CreeDakota

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Roomates! He prolly ate your leftover pizza with the beer, left the dishes in the sink and then used your towel after his shower....

Seriously though, thanks for the Cocoa tips.
 

JippZ

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Hello beer lovers and guzzlers. I've got a jar of cacao seeds my friend and I picked, fermented and roasted while in Trinidad. I just need to crack the shells off of them and grind them up. I was going to use them to make some sort of a chocolate stout but would seriously hate to have the chocolate go to waste if it ruins the batch. I definitely want to find the best way to bring out the flavor of the chocolate. I don't have the equipment to press the cocoa and separate the oil. It sounds like though nibs are fine and maybe I could grind them up fairly fine to bring out the flavor some more.

Any comments or suggestions would be helpful.
 
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Edcculus

Edcculus

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Ive recently heard a lot of people using cocoa nibs with great success. I believe they are either using them whole, or just cracking them a bit. Nobody is complaining about head retention either. My theory is that in the un-ground nib form, most of the fat is not able to get into the beer. I've also begun to think that a little of the fat is necessary for that real chocolate flavor.

JippZ:

My suggestion would be to break them up a bit then "dry hop" with them. Taste it every once and a while to test for the level of chocolateyness you want.

Do you know what variety the cacao you have is? I'm assuming Trinitario since you got them from Trinidad? That should make a mighty fine chocolate beer! Its a rather rare variety, but tastes soooo much better than Forestaro.
 

JippZ

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Thanks for the suggestion! I didn't think of dryhopping them but I'll definitely give that a try now.

I'm pretty sure they are Trinitario. We've used the beans to make chocolate sauces and even brownies and they've come out absolutely delicious. Beer will be the next venture.
 

h4rdluck

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I have 8 oz of pure cocoa beans... I thought I was purchasing nibs... But now I am confident I have raw beans....

What is the best way to add these little basterds to my secondary? Should I roast them and them crack them and add them? Or so I consider not using them at all since they aren't processed?
 
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Edcculus

Edcculus

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well, you might as well take a shot at roasting them. I'm not too sure the best way to go about it though. Maybe a cast iron skillet? I know thats how some people roast coffee.

Some health food stores will sell the nibs. Brewmasters Warehouse also sells them now
 

OLDBREW

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JippZ

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If you are sure they are not already roasted, go ahead and roast them and then you'll have to crack them out of the shell to get out the meat out which at this point will be the same as cocoa nibs. It is possible though that they have already been roasted and all you have to do is crack the shell to get the cocoa meat out.

In any case I would definitely go through the process to extract the nibs and you will for sure reap the benefits. No point in throwing out some potentially great cocoa material. Good luck!
 

ChshreCat

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An interesting tidbit...

I was listening to the Can You Brew It podcast for Deschutes Black Butte Porter on the way to work today and when they were interviewing the brewmaster from Deschutes, they asked him about the Black Butte XX and how they made it. He said that for the chocolate, they used nibs and put them in the boil kettle. Kinda interesting.
 

humann_brewing

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Great info, I know that Deschutes uses Cocoa Nibs at the end of the boil for their Black Butte XX(I)

Edit: ok, I guess ChshreCat got to that before me.
 

OLDBREW

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An interesting tidbit...

I was listening to the Can You Brew It podcast for Deschutes Black Butte Porter on the way to work today and when they were interviewing the brewmaster from Deschutes, they asked him about the Black Butte XX and how they made it. He said that for the chocolate, they used nibs and put them in the boil kettle. Kinda interesting.
I do not think it would be feasable for a micro brewery to add nibs to a seccondary fermentation tank then need to rack again.

Homebrewers on the other hand can get the most flavor from the nibs by using a them in secondary
 

h4rdluck

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Ok so heres my 2 cents. I'd appreciate some input.

So far I have used
8oz Baking Cocoa Power in one stout (Flameout)
8oz Baking Cocoa Powder and 8oz backers choclate bar (Flameout)
10oz roasted Raw Cocoa Beans (2ndary)

The first attempt wasn't really cocoa at all just bitter
The second attempt was slighly cocoa but REALLY bitter
the 3rd attempt with roasted raw cocoa beans well... it was bitter again

So far In my opinon I still cann't get a satisfactory amount of Cocoa Taste in my beer despite using different protocols. I haven't noticed loss of head much. But It seems the more cocoa I use the more bitter things get. I know this is expected but I REALLY want that cocolate taste...

Any further suggestions?
 
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Edcculus

Edcculus

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The more research I do on this, and the more feedback I get, its pretty consistent that plain cocoa gives a very bitter flavor. Not too surprising since cocoa powder is extremely bitter. Maybe treat it as you would a roasted grain? They can get pretty bitter too. I think its also important to have enough sweetness in your beer to back it up. Yes, cocoa powder is basically pure cocoa, but thats not what people are expecting when they hear "chocolate". Maybe try it in a sweet stout?

On an interesting note, the ancient Aztecs and other cultures of the time were the first to use the cocoa bean. They ground it up and mixed it with water and other spices like cayenne pepper. They would pour it back and forth between two vessels to make a huge frothy head. This drink was probably extremely bitter. It wasn't until cocoa was brought back to Europe that people started sweetening, addding other spices like cinnamon, nutmeg etc to make hot cocoa. It wasn't until even later that someone had the idea to sweeten the hell out of it and make it into candy.
 

h4rdluck

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Theres only one thing left to try.

Chocolate Extract in the secondary. This appears to be how rougue brewery does it and young's double chocolate stout. I think this maybe the only way to get the flavor i want. I'll throw in a nice dose of crystal malt and attempt to sweeten the entire thing up.
 

mrkeeg

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h4rdluck...
Extract is probably the easiest way to go, honestly. Still, if you want to be more 'purest', maybe try adding cocoa powder in the secondary? I did this with a chocolate porter and the flavour and aroma came through quite nicely.

I boiled about a liter/ quart of water to sanitize it, then after it had cooled slightly, I added about 200g (1/2 can) of 'fry's premium cocoa powder'. This made a thick paste that I added as I moved to the secondary. I kept the secondary slightly warm (25 C) with a heat pad underneath it for a few days.

Like you, I wanted to keep the bitterness as low as possible, and my thought was that adding cocoa at boil would extract more bitterness, and boil off aroma.

Another thought I had was adding some cocoa powder to the mash... anyone try? You MIGHT be asking for a disaster?
 

swankyswede

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I attempted a Dogfish Theobroma-ish recipe, and bought some cacao beans from my LHBS. Didn't roast them, but cracked them with a rolling pin and dumped them in the boil at 10 minutes. Haven't tried the beer yet - it's still conditioning - but can't wait to give the finished product a taste.
 

kyleobie

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I've had good results with cocoa powder. I bought the good stuff from my local Whole Foods. You need to compensate for the bitterness of the powder and plan your IBUs accordingly.

I tossed in 1 lb of powder during the last 5 minutes of the boil. I had issues with the powder clumping as well as scorching the bottom of the brewpot, but all was well in the end.

I added it to a sweet stout. I'm drinking the final product now and the lactose really balanced out the bitterness of the cocoa well. Together with the roasted barley and black patent, I get a kind of mocha latte feel. I used peppermint, too. The IBUs are somewhere in the mid 20s.
 

BeerAtlas

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I use both nibs and powder in my chocolate beers, and this is how I use it:

I mix the powder with boiled water into a paste and add it to the primary/secondary along with the nibs.

From my experiments and experiences, the nibs add more of a cocoa aroma to the beer, and the powder adds the actual flavor. I always use the 100% Dutch process chocolate powder, and whatever nibs the lhbs has.
 

Alchemist42

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Now if you really want to get technical, you need to look into what variety your cocoa is. In terms of coffee, forestaro=robusto, criollo=arabica. Unlike coffee though, criollo beans are VERY expensive and hard to grow. The are known for their earthy/fruity taste. Forestaro grows easily and is resistant to disease. It makes an inferior chocolate though. Most of the chocolate in production is of the Forestaro variety.
Very good summary Ecculus. I'd like to say though that the Foraster=robusta is not quite accurate, although an easy analogy for growth and disease resistance it breaks down at flavor - the important part. I wouldn't touch any robusta coffee. It's just to nasty and has too many aftertastes, but the reverse just isn't the case with Forastero. It can make an inferior chocolate but is by no mean has to. It general has big bold flavors. Criollo on the other hand is often light and delicate and again, can make a superior chocolate some of the worst and uninspired chocolate I've had has been Criollo. And finally, there is a huge variety of cocoa out there - the Trinatario. It's the hybrid blend of Forastero and Criollo - something coffee does not do. It's turning into the big boy as far as the new Artisan chocolate industry is concerned and all three varieties are being used well and prices have come way down.

Given how hard it is to get aggressive chocolate flavors into beers from nibs, using the strongest flavored nib I can find has served me well

John
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Chocolate Alchemy
 

Brewmasters Warehouse

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I have nothing really scientific to add, but I had a friend make a chocolate stout using nibs. I am not sure if he used them in the boil or not, but I do know that he left them in the keg. The chocolate flavor was subtle at first, but by the time the beer had sat in the keg on the nibs for 6 months the beer no longer tasted like beer. It tasted like chocolate milk. It was not bad but was very weird because it was a creamy smooth chocolate milk taste in what was supposed to be a beer.

Ed
 

Alchemist42

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That's a bit of empirical information that I've noticed to. It has something to do with the fact that a majority of the flavor and aroma compounds in chocolate are fat soluble (not unlike hops) and so it takes much longer for them to make their way into a wort or ale. My favorite addition is to fine grind the nibs (just shy of where the cocoa butter flows), add it to the mash, and then 'dry nib' for at least a month. I've never tried it as long as 6 months.

John
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Chocolate Alchemy
 

celia19O5

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Oh now I know why brewing from chocolate is much more wonderful than others :) All is due to this interesting recipe !
 
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I attempted a Dogfish Theobroma-ish recipe, and bought some cacao beans from my LHBS. Didn't roast them, but cracked them with a rolling pin and dumped them in the boil at 10 minutes. Haven't tried the beer yet - it's still conditioning - but can't wait to give the finished product a taste.
Howd that Theobroma-ish clone work out? That is one of my favorite beers to drink, but seems a little challenging to brew...a lot going on there!
 

swankyswede

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Howd that Theobroma-ish clone work out? That is one of my favorite beers to drink, but seems a little challenging to brew...a lot going on there!
Mehhhh not so great. It has barely any chocolate flavor, a hint of sweetness from the honey, and kind of a strange taste that I'm attributing to the peppers. The Theobroma is very tasty, but this one didn't work as expected. I guess that means more research is needed.... :tank:
 

Alchemist42

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Mehhhh not so great. It has barely any chocolate flavor, a hint of sweetness from the honey, and kind of a strange taste that I'm attributing to the peppers. The Theobroma is very tasty, but this one didn't work as expected. I guess that means more research is needed.... :tank:
I would surmise it was to a large part because you did not roast the nibs. The majority of the chocolate flavor is not even produced until roasting. Raw nibs generally have a bit of a 'green' flavor I have found. Try a light toasting next time and you might have better luck.

John
Chocolate Alchemy
 

rickyspalding

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is there a chemist in the house? maybe he or she can explain the best way to deal with this fatty substance in beer
 
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