Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chestnut Chocolate Stout and Delaware River City Corporation Spring Fling

Yesterday was my first experience with brewing with chestnuts.  I wanted to post about it sooner but I had a few things to do first.  One was that I picked up some grains for my next brew using red quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat at whole foods.  I can't wait to research these grains more and see what exciting combinations will work with beer.

Tonight I went to Delaware River City Corp's second annual spring fling held at the Delware River Yacht Club.  The club itself is a nice little club for sailboats mostly, started in 1926.  It has a nice sized crane that swings out the boats from the club and down a good 20 feet or so over the bulkhead and down to the river.  The guys that run the club are super friendly and it's a place that I think I could enjoy a membership.  The event itself revolved this year around the opening of Lardner's Point Park and the future steps of the bike trail that will pass through Lardner's Point and other parks as you bike or walk along the river.  The crowd was all the people involved in the project from the politicians like Bob Borski and  Bobby Henon to Tony Servalli the contractor and everyone in between.  I'm making steps to become more involved with my community to help it back on its feet by volunteering for local events and such and was invited to come along to the dinner.  It was very informal and the food was AWESOME!  First off were the mussels in thai curry sauce that Scoats and Dave from the Grey Lodge brought.  OMG  I had to hit them up first while they were hot.  As usual, they were excellent.  Thanks Scoats!  Then there was fare from Sweet Lucy's BBQ.  Pulled Chicken, ribs, pulled pork, and a cajun salmon melted many a palate this evening.  Personally, I just went for the salmon.  IT WAS GREAT!  I had one rib as well and that was pretty damn tender and tasty too!  But the salmon was new to me in this style and I am going to have to seek out more as I learned it is new on their menu.  I didn't think cajun spices would work on salmon, but they do!  Many people spoke about the project and after that we all traded stories for an hour or so.  My dad and I closed the place down as we are party animals!  I made a lot of new friends all very interested in my beer ideas, so that's cool!  Thanks everyone!

And now on to beer!  I did have a chance to taste Yards Pale Ale while there so I got the night started off good!

I need tunes, hold on...

{Spirit of Surf, the Sandals}

I need a beer, hold on...

{My last pint of Mocha MaryAnn}

So like I'm trying to fill this gluten free beer niche.  Part of that involves cultivating yeast strains that will go well with different ingredients, etc...  That is all new to me, even the flavors that the different yeasts impart are fairly new to me so there is a bit of research involved, but at this point, I just want to get a good sterile system down for storing them and starting my cultivations.  So from my first batch of Chestnut beer, I saved a quart of the wort to use for nutrients in the future.

I was pointed in the direction of Chestnut beer from a new friend that I met at one of my meetings who is a journalist.  She told me to look up a place in Washington state called Chestnut Trails owned by a farmer named Lee who was putting forth his chestnut beer ideas to the world because, well, he has a chestnut farm and knows folks who have celiacs disease, so he has, over the last ten years or so, perfected a decent beer recipe and many grades of roasted nuts to use.

This batch I chose the dark roast.  As I learn more about homebrewing, I learn that that it takes a good 3 months for the beers to condition to proper flavor.  From what I have studied, this holds true for gluten free beers as well.  Or even more so.  Four months is sounding more like what they need.  I chose the dark roast to be ready for the early fall season as a celebration of the coming winter.  Welcome to fall...BANG! -> in your face deep winter stout.  That is what I'm talking about!  I will mix it up, I promise.  A nice amber as my next batch might just be the thing.

There are some considerations from what I have read about chestnuts when it comes to beer.  Number one, it has a low fat content, which is good for beer AND as a food source.  Oils will kill the head of your beer.  The main consideration is that chestnuts do not have the amylase enzymes on their husks to convert the starches to fermentable sugars.  This process takes about an hour with barley.  For the chestnuts the recommended mash time is 24 hours.  I am assuming that it is this long because of the size of the ground nut so that the water and enzymes have enough time to soak in and penetrate into the nut itself.  Questions arise in my head about the grain size and whether or not that can be modified as the 24 hour mash time can be a bit troublesome for people.  For me, not so much.  I chose to add amylase and pectinase for the mash.  Pectins will cloud the beer and keep it from looking like beer, even though it's not beer but we want it to resemble beer.  That part is for presentation.  It's not necessary.
I've also read that these beers can be overpowered by the hops, do I dialed them back a bit.  The oils in nuts can reduce head retention, so I decided to use my mash tun instead of a steeping bag in the kettle.  When using the mash tun, the oils floating on the surface can get trapped in the surface of the grist in the tun and be reduced somewhat not making it to the kettle.  Some folks were getting a very dry high alcohol content with no sweetness at all to the beer or body.  So I added chocolate nibs and goodly amounts of maltodextrin and lactose which are unfermentable sugars that have mild sweetness and I added a good amount of sugar, much more than most people were adding because I've read that the amounts of fermentable sugars from the chestnuts have been coming out low for many people.  Whether that is the chemistry of the nut, the extraction process that the brewer used or a combination of both is kind of a grey area for me now until I get deep into some science of the nut itself.  The lactose will make it more complex and I believe the maltodextrins will aid in head retention as well.  So these two ingredients seem to be the backbone of Chestnut beer in my early opinion of brewing this batch. It's only my first batch so my opinion can be shite at this point.  I also used Gypsum to help balance the pH.  I'm not sure what the best pH is for chestnut brew and amylase/pectinase, but our city water has a good amount of Calcium (gypsum) anyway, but I put it in just in case.  It didn't raise the pH any (constant 5.4) but it may have kept it from lowering.  Many people encounter a very muddy beer when finished so I also added much more whirfloc and irish moss to the boil as well as pectinase to the primary fermenter.  Something called cold crashing will help with this also.  Personally, after 4 months in the bottle it will probably all settle out anyway, but at least with the extras that I put in, I can drink a few before then.  We will see.  Hopefully they wont taint the flavor any.  Again, time heals all wounds.

So this is what I did:

Heat 6.5 gallon of declorinated (sat over night) tap water to 180F.  Transferred to mash tun with the Chestnuts already placed in there.  It was 175F so I waited until it dropped and proceeded to:

Got my yeast starter going with 16oz water 2 tbsp demerara sugar and 1/4 tsp yeast nutrient

The mash temp after an hour was 170,  I let it drop a little more then added:  
2.5 tsp amylase
2.o tsp pectinase
2.o tsp gypsum 
pH 5.4
3 hours later it was 155F   
10 hours later it was 130F
21 hours later it was 105F

It tasted slightly sweet, chocolatey, and mildly roasty.  YUM!  I did not take a hydrometer reading, but it was only mildly sweet.  I may have added the amylase to the mash when it was too hot.  It's OK, I added so much sugar afterward that it will be nice.

At this point my yeast starter was really slowing down so 'EFF IT' I added another packet to the starter.

{Linton Kewesi Johnson, Dread Beat and Blood}

So here is the recipe:

Boil Wort
60 min       0.5 oz Fuggles
45 min       0.5 oz Kent Goldings
30 min       0.5 oz Fuggles
10 min       0.5 oz Kent Goldings
                  Dissolved solution of:
                           1 gallon of water
                           3.0 oz molasses
                           3.0 lb Demerara Sugar
                           2.0 lb Turbinado Sugar
                           5.o oz Malto Dextrin
                           10 oz  Lactose
                  3 Whirfloc Tablets
                  2 tsp Irish Moss
                  1/2 cup Chestnut coffee

Chilled to 78F
Strained through a grain bag pitched with a total of 2 oz Nottingham yeast (one in the starter, one hydrated in the started 1 hour before pitching)
2 tsp pectinase straight from the bottle.
Ferment started 6 hours later
24 hours later, no krausen but a decent ferment at 70F  ( I put frozen water bottles around the base of the fermenter because the yeast works best at 65F)

Secondary Ferment add 4 oz chocolate nibs

So that is the most intricate recipe that I have attempted thus far.  I almost lost track of some things at times, but made it through.  The next step is to remember the 4 oz chocolate nibs for the secondary fermenter.

Some pics:
The nuts in the mash tun
 Waiting for the temp to come down
 My yeast starter.  I actually added CL to the mix as I thought the sugars too concentrated.
Not completely gluten free beer now!
 22 hours later, ready for the boil
 Slight one gallon 150F sparge. 
This may have washed oils into kettle.
 Chillin' at Wissinoming Brewing.
 My gluten free friends!

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