"Beer in Colorado" is dedicated to that divine elixir born of the marriage of water, malt, hops, and yeast as interpreted
by those living in Colorado. Follow the author as he visits every brewery in the state, creates experimental homebrews,
attends beer festivals, tries interesting beers from around the world, and spreads the good word of beer. Prost!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

You Got Peanut Butter in My Beer! You Got Beer in My Peanut Butter!

I’ve been to over half of Colorado’s breweries but my favorite so far is located about thirty feet from where I’m typing.

I feel it prudent to give you the rundown on my homebrewing operation because I plan on blogging a lot about my concoctions and it’s best if you understand the context from which my beers are born.  In brief, I keep it very simple: some plastic buckets, a handful of tubing, and an electric stovetop.  It aint pretty but it gets the job done just as well as the more expensive equipment.  I’m sure I’ll evolve to a point where I’ll purchase more professional brew-ware but, right now, what I have is convenient for me; face it, cleaning and filling a glass carboy is a pain in the ass.

I currently use hop pellets but I will soon be using whole-leaf.  I recently ordered some Cascade rhizomes from The Brew Hut (homebrew store run by the folks at Dry Dock Brewing, Co.) in Aurora and as soon as I start getting some production out of those I’ll be using them in my beer.   

I’m currently straddling the line between malt extract and all-grain recipes.  I understand the argument for all-grain—it brings out more nuanced flavors, it’s cheaper, and it’s the traditional way—but I mainly use extract.  This is for a couple of reasons.  One is, again, convenience; I’ve tried brewing with both styles and extract is like riding a merry-go-round horse as opposed to all-grain’s rabid bronco.  It's just easier.  The other reason is because my beers are brewed with people like me in mind: non-tasters.  I prefer, nay, demand that my foods have strong flavors.  If it’s a spicy dish then it better set my tongue on fire.  If it’s a sour treat then it better make me pucker up so that I can kiss the inside of the back of my skull.  I’m the same with my beers; hoppy beers should be hoppy, fruity beers should be fruity…etc.  Keeping with the theme of wacky and strong flavors, people tasting my beer get the whole marketplace because I almost always include some sort of additive that isn’t traditionally associated with beer.  The subtleties of the grains aren’t going to come through in my beers because they’ll be overpowered by jalapeños, chai tea, lemons, or some other eccentric ingredient.  I don’t do subtle, I do punches to the palate.  Nevertheless, the day will come when I will forgo the extract and be exclusively all-grain because it’s pretty much the only way to be taken seriously in the domain of the homebrewers.

I had the pleasure of revealing my latest creation this past Saturday at the Geek Bowl V victory party (“victory party” being a misnomer as nobody at the party got anywhere near the top.  Our team’s greatest achievement was acing the two-part question I’ll name an IPA, you name the brewery: Raging Bitch and Long Hammer.   The answers were, of course, Flying Dog and Red Hook, respectively).  The beer unveiled that night had the simple and accurate appellation of Peanut Butter Porter.  The recipe is as follows:

·         Bring 1.5 gallons to 160 degrees F.  Remove from heat.
·         Soak 0.5 pound of black patent malt/ 0.5 pound of crystal malt 20 for 30 min.
·         Place grains in strainer.  Pour 1.5 gallons over grains.  Discard grains.
·         Bring to boil then remove from heat.
·         Add 7 pounds of dark malt extract, 26 ounces of natural peanut butter.
·         Boil for 30 min.
·         Add 1 ounce of Cascade hops.
·         Boil 30 min.
·         Add 0.5 cup cocoa powder and 1 ounce Cascade hops.
·         Boil 5 min.
·         Cool to below 80 degrees F.
·         Add 2 gallons.
·         Add Pacific Ale yeast.
·         Ferment 2 weeks.
·         Boil 40 ounces of honey in 0.5 gallons.  Add to fermenter.
·         Ferment additional 1 week.
·         Bottle with ¾ cup priming sugar.
·         Bottle condition for 4 weeks.

At first, I was wary of this beer but not because of the kooky ingredients.  No, I was worried that it hadn’t carbonated correctly because, when I shook a bottle, a head would form but quickly dissolve.  I compared that to a beer that was bottled more recently and, even though it was more immature, it had better head retention.  Not a good sign.  Thankfully, my fears were alleviated on the night of the party albeit in a spectacularly disastrous fashion.

I suppose it should me mentioned that, amongst this particular group of friends, I have a reputation for creating party fouls.  A pint glass nudged off a ledge here and there will give one that status.  My image was tarnished even further when I brought a Mt. Elbert-sized swing-top bottle of PB porter.  I flipped open the top and was thrilled to hear that reassuring POP.  The batch wasn’t a total waste!  I was so excited that I momentarily let my guard down.  The horror set in as Mt. Elbert turned into Mt. Vesuvius and, like a dope, I stood in shock as cold, brown lava Old Faithful’d from the bottle neck, over my hands, and onto the floor creating a man-sized quagmire on the linoleum.  My brain functions came back to me and I thought surely, only a little bit from the top will come out but when it reached the halfway mark I finally put the bottle over the sink.  It was both fortunate and unfortunate that I brought such a gigantic bottle; unfortunate because it meant more of a mess to clean and fortunate because, even though 2/3 of the bottle spewed forth, there was still enough left to share with everybody who wanted a taste.  I was pleased with the reviews.  Although I’m further in the hole when it comes to party fowls, I’m still building a case for being an awesome homebrewer. 

PB Porter is a deep, rich brown with a very fizzy, brown head.  Just as it was in the bottle, the foam is fleeting.  I chalk that up to the oils found in natural peanut butter.  The old pub trick says to rub your nose and stick your finger in the head and your body oils will kill the foam.  I can only assume that bodily oils and peanut butter oil have the same effect on beer.  Although the head retention is finite, PB porter is very tingly on the tongue—like champagne.  It’s the fizziest beer I’ve ever made.  The scent of peanut butter is much stronger than the flavor.  While I added what I thought was an abundance of peanut butter, only a hint of it can be detected in the mouth.  The roasty porter flavor is the dominate flavor.  I only used two ounces of hops but they were Cascade hops so they were strong enough to make themselves known in the aftertaste.

 There are a few things I’d do differently should I brew this beer again.  For one, I’ll strain it with a little more diligence.  As it is, there are tiny floaties that linger near the bottom of the glass when first poured.  The good news is that they quickly dissolve and contribute to the fizz.  Nonetheless, they don’t look very appetizing.  I’ll also add lactose next time because the mouthfeel is much too light for this type of beer; this brew needs to be thicker than molasses.  Despite these flaws, I’m still quite pleased with PB Porter.  It’s not the best beer I’ve ever created but it’s good enough that I’ll be drinking more than I give away.     

Peanut Butter Porter

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