I have nothing against cakes, tarts, pies, or delightful frozen treats. But sometimes, okay maybe more often than not, I simply want to drink my dessert. And I’m not talking about milkshakes or hot chocolate, although I do love those things too. I’m talking about beer: rich, creamy, chocolate, milk stout brewed with cocoa powder and bourbon soaked cocoa nibs to be exact.
For some people this might sound a little crazy, but certain beers are perfectly acceptable as a form of dessert, in the same way that many people enjoy dessert wines. I am truly fascinated by the diversity among different beer styles. There is a huge range in color, flavor, and style, and so much to explore beyond the thin, yellow, fizzy stuff that dominates the shelves of many grocery and liquor stores.
While I’m still relatively new to brewing, I like to experiment with different styles and ingredients. The “milk” part of this recipe comes from lactose sugar that’s not fermentable by brewers yeast. This gives the beer some added sweetness and thick mouth-feel, creating the perfect combination for chocolate, and a perfect beer to have with, or for dessert.
Just as there are different styles of beer, there are also different ways to brew beer at home. I brew using a method called “Brew in a Bag” developed in Australia. I chose this method for three reasons. I am sort of a purist and like to do things from scratch as much as possible. BIAB is an “all-grain” brewing method which allows me to use grain (malted barley) instead of malt extract. While there is nothing wrong with extract, and people make great beer using it, I like the added control and flexibility that using grain gives me.
The second reason BIAB is appealing to me is that it requires far less equipment than other all-grain brewing methods. This is important since I am short on storage space. Lastly, my condo community doesn’t allow any sort of gas burners (indoors or out), so I am limited by what my electric stove top can boil. BIAB happens to be perfect for small batch (2.5 gallon) all-grain brewing. For more information about BIAB, check out this forum.
The inspiration behind this beer is a seasonal brew called Moo-Hoo made by Terrapin Beer, Co in Athens, GA. They use cooca nibs from the amazing (and local to Nashville) Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Company. I found a “clone” recipe posted in a homebrew forum and made a few adjustments. The original recipe is linked to below.
Style: Sweet stout
Type: All-grain, Brew in a Bag
Size: 2.5 gal
Original Gravity: 1.063
Final Gravity: 1.024
Alcohol by Volume: 5.2%
Chocolate Oatmeal Stout
6 lb Pale 2 row
.5 lb Chocolate Malt
.25 lb Roasted Barley
5 oz Crystal 80L
.5 lb Flaked Oats
.5 lb lactose sugar @ 10 min
2 oz cocoa powder @ 15 min
2 oz cocoa nibs
2.5 oz bourbon
.25 oz Nugget @ 60 min
.5 oz Willamette @ 30 min
Safale US-05, 1 packet, no starter or re-hydration.
Please note, this is a simplified explanation of the brewing process. I highly recommend reading through the BIAB forum for more thorough instructions regarding this method.
Bring 4 gallons of water plus 2 cups to 152 degrees F in a large pot. Turn off heat. Secure grain bag around edge of pot and slowly pour in milled grain and stir. Hold water temperature at 152 degrees F for 75 minutes, checking temperature with thermometer and turning heat back on in short intervals to maintain temperature if necessary.
Remove the grain bag, give it a squeeze, and let as much liquid drain back into the pot as possible. Bring the liquid (wort) to a rolling boil uncovered, and add the .25 oz of Nugget hops. Set a timer for 60 minutes. When there is 30 minutes left in the boil, add the .5 oz of Willamette hops. At 15 minutes to go, add the cocoa powder, and then the lactose sugar when there is 10 minutes left in the boil. Total boil time is 60 minutes.
At the end of the boil, remove pot from heat, place sanitized lid over the pot, and cool to 65 degrees F. You can place the pot in a bath of cool water, or use special equipment made for cooling wort. When the wort has cooled, transfer to a sanitized carboy or fermentation bucket. Aerate the wort by vigorously shaking the carboy for five minutes, pitch yeast, and seal with an airlock.
As the beer begins to ferment, place the cocoa nibs in the bourbon and allow to soak for 4 days. Once primary fermentation is complete (3-5 days), add the nibs and bourbon to carboy and allow fermentation to reach final gravity.
When the fermentation is complete, you have the option of either kegging the beer, or allowing the beer to condition in bottles.