Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Lurker Chocolate Peanut Butter Coffee Porter

With coffee as the required ingredient for the next homebrew competition, I started doing some research and thinking about the type of beer I wanted to make and how to add the coffee.  I like the taste of coffee when it's not overly bitter, but I rarely drink it because I don't like caffeine.  In the spirit of the competition, I first thought I wanted to brew something without dark malts and really showcase the coffee without the intrusion  of roasted malt flavor.  After trying some different commercial examples (Mikkeller Spontankoppi, Ballast Point Victory At Sea, Kona Pipeline Porter, Haandbryggeriet Coffee Porter among others) I pretty much embraced something that was already intuitively known: darker beers lend themselves better to coffee additions.  In the end, I chose to brew something that incorporated other ingredients I've been wanting to use for a while, in addition to the coffee.

During San Diego Beer Week last November, I had a chance to try Karl Strauss' Peanut Butter Cup Porter and was amazed at how much peanut butter flavor came through in the final product.  They used powdered peanut butter when making it, which keeps undesirable oil out of the beer without compromising the peanut butter flavor.  They also incorporated cocoa nibs into the brew, the rawest and strongest form of chocolate flavoring.  I decided to try the same thing on a homebrew scale, using PB2 and also including cocoa nibs.  The addition of coffee would add another (hopefully desirable) element to an already complexly flavored beer.  All three flavors should make for something pretty ridiculously decadent-more calories than any reasonable person needs to consume at any one time-so I named it The Lurker because it should stay with you for a while, no matter how much Insanity you do.

Karl Strauss' version was a Brown Porter.  I decided to brew a Robust Porter and came up with the following recipe:

Malts and Grains
9.00 pounds 60.4% of grist
1.80 pounds 12.1% of grist
1.20 pounds 8.1% of grist
0.60 pounds 4% of grist
1.20 pounds 8.1% of grist
0.60 pounds 4% of grist
0.10 pounds 0.7% of grist
0.40 pounds 2.7% of grist
14.90 pounds
Total Grain Weight (Water Amounts)
100% of grist
1.00 poundsLactose (Milk Sugar)
1.00 poundsPB2
1.00 poundsPB2 - Chocolate
4 ozCacao Nibs
16 ozCold Pressed Coffee
1.00 ounces 14.2% Pellets 
Type: Bittering and Aroma
Use: First Wort
14.2 AAUs
0.75 ounces 5.6% Pellets @ 20 minutes 
Type: Flavor
Use: Boil
4.2 AAUs
1.75 ouncesTotal Hop Weight18.4 AAUs
Total Boil Time:60 minutes
Name:Dry English Ale
Manufacturer:White Labs
Product ID:WLP007
Temperature Range:65–70°F
Amount:500 ml

I brewed 7.5 gallons last Wednesday.  I mashed at 152 degrees F for an hour and had a rolling 60 minute boil.  The lactose was added with about 20 minutes left in the boil and should contribute some sweetness and body.  Two gallons were used to make Dregs beers (DREGS #9 and DREGS #10), and the other 5.5 gallons was innoculated with 500 ml of WLP007 Dry English Ale Yeast and placed lovingly in the fermentation chamber.  I'll be adding the cocoa nibs and PB2/PB2-Chocolate in secondary in two separate additions, allowing at least a week (maybe more) of contact time for both.  I anticipate a restarting of fermentation with the addition of the PB2.  I'm not sure how many gravity points two pounds of PB2 will contribute, but the final beer should be pretty big.  The original gravity after chilling was 1.058.

As for the coffee, I want it to take a prominent role in the flavor, but not be overly bitter.  I'm going to cold press decaffeinated French Roast coffee (not sure what brand yet) and add sixteen ounces to the bucket at bottling.  I'm hoping that the coffee flavor will shine in the final beer.


  1. So do you usually put peanut butter in your coffee when you do drink it? I don't drink coffee either but now you have me wondering if the combo will work?

    And those dreg beers sound like a neat experiment. I have a couple roasty sours that are coming along and I haven't decided if I like the direction they are going yet. Let me know what you think.

    1. I've seen some recipes for coffee chocolate peanut butter cakes and cupcakes and other sweets, but I have my doubts about this beer. After tasting the base beer after a week of fermentation, I'm optimistic I have a feeling the final product is going to be polarizing regardless.

      I just bottled DREGS 5 and 6, one of which was a combination of Kate The Great base beer with dregs from the Bruery's Saison de Lente. I expect these most recent dregs beers to have similar character. I'll let you know how they turn out and pass you a couple bottles.

    2. I can see it working if it is kept on the sweet side. You could always make a cup of coffee and put in your PB2 and some hot cocoa mix before you go for the 5 gals.

      I think the roast and sour can work together I just haven't figured it out yet. Your Saison de Lente batch would be more like a Dark Saison and in my experience it works well if you can control the amount of phenols. My last batch of Dark Saison might be a drain pour because the Brett went very phenolic and very dry so it makes the roast astringent. I'm still curious how it works for you.

  2. Coffee is good for bringing out something special in chocolate, and chocolate and peanut butter are an awesome pairing. But I'm not so sure about coffee and peanut butter. Who knows? Maybe you're on the edge of a brilliant discovery!

    1. I hope so. Since writing the post I've come across other blogs/breweries who've tried it with apparent success. Either way it'll be interesting. Any idea what sort of coffee I should use?

  3. I think the beer has a chance of success, if it ferments well. With so many chances of failure im really excited to see the outcome.

    Also the sour side projects are interesting. How is the sour stout tasting?

    1. I'll post details once The Lurker is ready to be tasted. I appreciate the encouragement.

      I haven't tasted the DREGS 5 beer since bottling last week but it sat for 14 months and went through some really interesting transformations in that time. There was a full thin pellicle after just a month. When I tasted it after 6 months it was pretty horsey, almost overwhelmingly so. 10 months in it was pretty clear and the pellicle dropped out. I haven't tasted it since the six month mark, but will be opening one as soon as it's petillant. Fingers crossed.

  4. I really like your outlook on this challenge. With that said, I feel this recipe will be insanely good or fail. There is a lot going on with the peanut butter and coffee additions, but I like the approach your taking. I hope the hops can support the amount of sugars added before and after the yeast pitch.

    As for the sours, I think the roast and the bugs can work together, if given the time to do so. I just tasted my coffee porter that I tossed some of the old Flanders Red bugs into and it was young but very tasty. Given more time and carbonation I think it will be a great beer.

    Plus if its good, I'll just steal a couple bottles from your garage.


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