Beer of the Gods
Throughout history there have been many drinks and foods that have been revered for their alleged “supernatural abilities.” Among those are the obvious: wine, bread, etc. But these pale in comparison to the wonders of beer and chocolate. Chocolate, much like malt, was once used as the primary sugar source in the brewing of an alcoholic beverage. Along with chili peppers, this chocolate beer was used in rituals and drank by royalty giving them divine powers. Making a tasty home brew is not the hard part. Incorporating the flavors of chocolate into our favorite home brew recipes is the next step. Depending on how it is done can yield varying results.
Extraction, Essence, or …
The simplest way to add chocolate flavor to any of your tasty home brews is to buy chocolate extract from the grocery store and add it to your finished product. This will allow you to taste chocolate flavor on its basic level in any brew that you add it to. This is not exactly the best way to get chocolate flavor in your brews because extracts produce very powerful and one-dimensional chocolate flavor. Instead, you can make your own extract by using cacao nibs, which are the rawest form of chocolate you can buy. To make the extract, simply blanch the nibs in a pot of boiling water for a few seconds. You then add the blanched nibs to a mason jar or some kind of sealable container with vodka, rum, bourbon, or some other kind of spirit. Cover the nibs with about a half an inch of liquid. Letting this sit for a few days will give you your own chocolate extract made with an interesting twist. The third way to get a chocolate flavor into your tasty home brew would be to use a combination of the different chocolate malts available, such as chocolate, pale chocolate, dark chocolate and chocolate wheat. Using various combinations of these can give you different kinds of chocolate flavors, from very bitter to an almost milk chocolate.
What to Mix
Now that you are armed with your flavored chocolate extract: what beer do you brew to get the most out of those flavors? The obvious styles are stouts and porters because these styles already have subtle notes of chocolate in them. Building on those notes we can add our extract to the keg or secondary, sampling to insure we get the amount of chocolate we are looking for. When we build our porter recipe we can go heavy on some of the caramel malts or add a little bit of lactose to bring out some more sweet flavors, giving our beer more of a chocolate milk-like flavor. If you aren’t looking for that much chocolate and just want a hint of flavor, there are different ways to get more subtle cocoa notes. We can take our porter recipe and add between a half and a full pound of some pale chocolate malt to round out the existing chocolate notes without actually using any chocolate. Thinking about what flavors you are looking for and then building from flavors that are already in your tasty home brew is the best way to achieve the balance that works best for you.
The Past is Now
Paying homage to our ancient brewing brothers with these tasty beer offerings is a great way for us to join the ever-changing brewing history. Perhaps one day a million years from now an archaeologist will find your brewing notes and make a brew based on your experimentations, which will then tie them to the immortal history of brewing with chocolate.