Fermentation Friday is a new weekly post about homebrewing, kombucha making, lacto-fermented foods, etc – anything & everything fermented is fair game. I’m launching with a beer that Chris Cuzme and I brewed recently, a Hazelnut Cream Ale.
My friend Clay Gordon, chocolate critic and author of Discover Chocolate, gave me some chocolate beans to smoke malt over. Last summer (I can’t remember when – sometime after the first of July), I soaked them overnight, drained them, added them to my pile of charcoal and smoked 6 pounds of 2-row pale malt with them (more on my smoking technique here). It was not at all like smoking with wood chips – the smoke didn’t last as long and didn’t seem as strong. I really wasn’t sure how the malt would taste or what to do with it. So the sack of malt sat and sat and sat. Forward to February 2012 – Clay and Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster Garrett Oliver are on Beer Sessions Radio together. Clay mentioned that he gave me the beans to smoke malt with and Garrett sounded intrigued/skeptical. Just the inspiration I needed! I had recently really enjoyed two beers brewed with nuts – a Brazil Nut Brown Ale at 508 Gastrobrewery and Peter Kennedy’s homebrewed Pistachio Stout and was jonesing to brew something with nuts. I’d gotten tips from both 508 owner/head brewer Anderson Sant’anna de Lima and Peter and was ready to try them out. I initially was thinking of brewing a Chocolate Hazelnut Porter. Then Cuzme suggested a Hazelnut Cream Ale instead – a light, creamy beer to show off the smoked chocolate and hazelnuts. Brilliant.
(brewed on 3‧4‧2012 – a 3 gallon batch on my stove top using the Brew in a Bag method)
- 2.75 lbs 2-row pale malt smoked over cocoa beans
- 2.75 Pilsner malt
- 0.5 lbs flaked corn
- 0.37 lbs cane sugar (which we forgot to add)
Mashed in at 153° F (strike water 162° F) for 70 minutes then mashed out at 170° F. Added 5.2 to the mash. No sparge – drained sack over perforated pizza pan.
Addition Schedule (60 minute boil):
- 60 min: .75 oz Liberty pellet hops (3.4% AA)
- 10 min: Wyeast yeast nutrient
- 3 min: 1/2 lb chopped, toasted hazelnuts (drained on paper several times to de-oil)
- 1 min: .25 oz Liberty pellet hops (3.4% AA)
Pitched 1 Smack-pack™ of Wyeast 1056 – American Ale™ Yeast
Around 4.5% ABV
Kegged on 3‧21‧2012 with approximately 1/2 tsp of Bakto Flavors hazelnut extract and served at a friends’ wedding on March 22.
The final gravity sample was nicely smoky, with a hint of chocolate but not much hazelnut. The carbonated beer was much lighter – very clean and creamy with only a touch of smoke and a hint of hazelnut. It was a very refreshing, drinkable ale and the 3-gallon keg kicked quickly.
This is definitely a beer I’ll brew again – next time bumping up the amount of hazelnuts in the boil, boiling longer and adding more extract depending on how much aroma & flavor we get from increasing the nuts. Oh, and remember the sugar next time (jeez). I have 3.25 lbs of the smoked malt left and will either make another Hazelnut Cream Ale or possible a Chocolate Cream Ale with the remainder. Perhaps with some cocoa powder & pale chocolate malt – just enough to give a hint of chocolate….
Fermentations in Progress:
- seven different sour ales
- Rosemary Belgian Brown Ale
- Grilled Pineapple Ale