Brewing with coffee

A few weeks back I decided to brew a “Mocha Porter”, obviously an attempt on my part to duplicate a wonderful concoction from the great guys at Rogue. I started with the Robust Porter partial-mash recipe kit from Austin Homebrew and decided to tweak it. Along came 2 ounces of Scharffen-Berger Cacao nibs and 8 ounces of a locally roasted Hawaii Kauai Reserve coffee.

Most of the recipes I’d seen online called for 4 ounces or less of coffee, and to add the ground coffee in the secondary fermentation for a cold extraction. I’m stubborn and chose to ignore the above advice. IMO, I’m 1 1/2 for 2 on ignoring this bit of advice. I added the freshly ground coffee directly to the last 15 minutes of the boil in a muslin bag, believing this to be a better alternative than the cold extraction, and better than brewing several pots of coffee and adding that to the boil. I wanted the flavor and aroma of the coffee to be distinct, and noticeable. Along with my love of beer I consider myself to be a coffee snob of the highest order. When I brew with coffee I wanted to ensure the coffee was a dominant flavor in the brew. I got more than I had hoped for I think. 🙂

When racking to secondary we sampled the concoction to get an idea how the mouth was going to turn out. At this point the coffee was completly dominant and the brew was excessively bitter. After discussing with Aaron at Millstream it was determined that as the beer aged the bitterness would leech and we had a significant possibility of something quite drinkable.

After bottling and conditioning we cracked open the first of these this weekend, and I’ll admit the coffee is strong in this. The flavor of the coffee is dominant to the point of little else. Their is a mild mouthfeel to the beer itself, but mostly as an aftertaste. The cacao/chocolate flavor is completly absent from the beer. The bitterness has nearly completly subsided, and I’m starting to decide I like this. Aaron came buy last night and graciously agreed to force down a liter of the stuff with me. He agreed that the body was a bit weak, but overall seemed to really like the end result. I’m thinking of doing this recipe over again, cutting the coffee back to 6 ounces and doubling the cacao. All in all though, not a bad end result for having ignored common wisdom.

We’ve also determined that we might have been doing our partial mash’s incorrectly. The kit’s from Austin Homebrew don’t mention that the grain bags need cracking, but our kits we’ve ordered from Northern Brewer do. I’ll be placing another order from Austin in the near term, and we’ll give the cracking of the grain bag a go. This may help with the light body we’ve experienced on the first two batches. Oh well, it’s still been tasty and fun. Live and learn is my motto.

On another front, the Hoppy Ale and the Double IPA kits from Austin should be ready for bottling this weekend. Both of these kits were followed to the letter, and let me tell you, if racking was any indicator that Double IPA is going to blow my taste buds out of the water! It had a great hop aroma and bite to it when we racked, and I’m really looking forward to drinking it. Derick felt the Hoppy Ale was going to be more inline with his sense of taste, but hey that’s the best part of this. We get the opportunity to do and try different things. The Mead, and Cider are both still in their long-term racking stages, the Alt-Bier is still working away in the closet, and the Scottish has really started to settle down. I envision a busy weekend at the trailer coming up! But, it’s so much fun to do. Even the cleaning and sanitizing.

3,656 thoughts on “Brewing with coffee”

  1. Just wait till you start bottling all those brews.. It’ll curb your enthuasiusm. Or maybe get your rear in gear to go the full keg route.

    The coffee “porter” needs more coffee. Remember, my coffee stout was UNDRINKABLE for about a month, and then it was the best damn thing ever… that is, until Red Hook came out with the now defunct DOUBLE BLACK STOUT, made with starbucks coffee. Well that beer wasn’t as strong in coffee as mine, but it was close, and much easier to make. Too bad they pulled it off the market. I wonder if you can still get it at the brewery… though when I visited the Portsmouth facility, I seem to remember the brewer mentioning they didn’t make it at all anymore.. but maybe the Seattle brewery still does.. Raccoon River in Des Moines makes a pretty good coffee porter, come to think of it, with Java Joes beans. You should try that sometime (its seasonal though).

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