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Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Mexican Hot Chocolate Stout

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 30 October 2016 at 10:09

Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Mexican Hot Chocolate Stout - Tips and Advice


Last night, 29 October 2016, I brewed a Mexican Hot Chocolate Stout, by Brooklyn Brew Shop.



As always, I’ll start with the particulars:


Informational Link:


http://brooklynbrewshop.com/mexican-hot-chocolate-stout-mix


Instructions:


http://brooklynbrewshop.com/directions/Brooklyn_Brew_Shop_Mexican_Hot_Chocolate_Stout_Instructions.pdf


This beer appears to be a chocolate oatmeal stout with the added flavours of red hot chile pepper and cinnamon inspired  by Mexican hot chocolate. Brooklyn Brew Shop describes it as “everything you love about hot chocolate (creamy, super-rich and filled with cocoa goodness) but with a surprisingly delightful kick of spice to finish it off.” At 5% ABV, it sounds just right to me, and I am looking forward to enjoying it during the winter months as I am reading or watching the snow fall gently out the window under the streetlights.


The recipe for this beer is in neither of Brooklyn Brew Shop’s books; therefore, I am not totally sure of the grains that are used. I presume that it is based on Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Oatmeal Stout, with chocolate malt added to balance the chile pepper and cinnamon, but that would only be a guess. The total weight of the grains is approximately 2.5 pounds, necessitating 2.5 quarts of water for the mash.


This beer uses Northern Brewer Hops, with 0.22 ounce added at the start of the boil and the remaining 0.11 ounce added with 15 minutes left in the boil. Until yesterday, I had never used these hops before, but they are described in good detail here:


http://brooklynbrewshop.com/themash/hop-of-the-month-northern-brewer/


At the end of the boil, two small, dried red hot chile peppers (I think they are Japones, but perhaps not) and a cinnamon stick are added. These of course are the primary components of the “Mexican hot chocolate” profile. I am anxious to see how they play with the hops in developing this unique theme.


Since I don’t have the actual recipe for this ale, no yeast is specified. I was going to use Brooklyn Brew Shop’s “standard” yeast, which is a fast-acting, clean-fermenting, middle-of-the-road yeast that I am assuming is similar to S05, but that would only be a guess. At the last minute, however, I decided to use Nottingham, which seems to be a common yeast used in stouts.



The mash went completely without incident; I had no trouble keeping my temperatures within the 144-152-degree range. Because this is described as a fuller-bodied beer, I tried to keep the temperatures at the upper end of that range, with fair success. The sparge went similarly well; the grains drained easily and I appear to have captured all of the wort that I was supposed to get. The grains produced a wonderful, thick, dark wort that carried the promise of a seriously interesting beer.


I seemed to get a good hot break at the beginning of the 60-minute boil, and proceeded to add the hops as described above. When the boil was finished, I added the chile peppers and cinnamon stick as per the instructions.


I chilled down the wort to 70 degrees, then transferred it to my fermenter. I decided to run the worth first through a medium mesh filter on my funnel, then the fine mesh (twice) after that. This seemed to work pretty well, capturing a lot of hop and break material. I’ve done this before, and the beers seemed to be a little clearer in the end; also, it seems that my yield was a bit higher, which is very important when the batches are only a gallon to begin with. In this case, the mash and boil resulted in just a hair over a gallon; I added it to the fermenter in the hopes of accounting for some of the trub loss.


The Nottingham yeast that I had was expired, so I made a starter earlier (during the mash) to see if it was still any good. It wasn’t long before I had some healthy-looking growth, so I pitched the yeast into the wort. I then capped the fermenter and agitated the wort for a little over two minutes. After that, it was a simple matter of fitting the blow-off tube and tucking the fermenter away in my closet.


The wort looks great this morning; it’s a beautiful, dark, coffee colour and has a nice, interesting aroma from the combination of malts and Northern Brewer hops, which appear to be a great fit for this stout. We’re about 7 hours after pitching the yeast, and I can see that fermentation is getting a great start. I think that the Nottingham will prove to be a good one for this beer. I am currently feeling pretty optimistic, and hope that the trend continues.


I expect fermentation to be in full swing later today; after three days, I’ll swap the blow-off tube for an air-lock as the most active period of fermentation should be finished.


More as it happens, etc. &c….


Ron

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 November 2016 at 10:07
Here is the label that I came up with for this beer:



There is a bit of a story behind this label. When I set about looking through pictures for it, I decided that I wanted one that called up images of walking in the snow, because a cup of hot chocolate always seems to be best after being outside on a cold winter day.

My youngest son was with me as I was scrolling through some images; as this one passed by on the screen, he said, "That's going to be me in 50 or 60 years."

I took a second look, and sure enough: at the subject's feet was a faithful little dachshund that looks exactly like my son's dog, Duke. The two are inseparable best friends, and it gave the image a whole new meaning for me. I decided then and there to use it for this beer.

We're getting close to the point where I would normally put this beer to cold-crash before bottling, but temperatures where I have been fermenting are a little low, and we're a little busy this week cutting up deer...and hopefully hunting for more deer. I'll bottle this stout - and the two other beers I have going - at the first opportunity, and will try to do it before they are more than 4 weeks from BrewDay.

More as it happens, etc. &c....

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 November 2016 at 20:01
This evening, 30 November 2016, I put this beer in the refrigerator to cold-crash. i plan to bottle it this weekend.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 December 2016 at 01:54
Tonight, 3 December 2016, I bottled this stout. I think it's going to be a good one, for sure.

The process went quite smoothly; there were no complications and I hardly spilled a drop at all, thanks to my mini auto-siphon and spring-tipped bottling wand. I used two tablespoons of maple syrup for the gallon of beer, and was able to fill 9 bottles, with a little left over for sampling. 

I am really loving the colour from this one - it is a deep, deep mahogany - almost black, but with some brown and red notes that really look nice. It looks like it has a beautiful viscosity to it, making it a really rich-looking beer. The stout was chocolaty and roasty...very smooth, not too bitter and with just a hint of spicy heat from the cinnamon and the red chili peppers. 

We'll give it some time to see if the spice comes forward. For now, it is just a bit too subtle for what I was expecting, but this might be my fault, sine I waited nearly a year to brew this mix after purchasing it. The warmth is definitely there, but it could be just a bit more forward, in my opinion. We'll see how it ends up.

In all, this one hit the mark pretty well, i think!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 January 2017 at 09:08
I've sampled this beer twice since bottling, and it is really a good one; even my dad, who is an "anti-stout" beer drinker, thought it was pretty good. I'll provide more as I work my way through the batch, but here are some preliminary impressions.

Thanks to extreme care and cold-crashing, the beer is surprisingly clear, even though it is very, very dark - like good, strong coffee. There is a nice, chocolate-coloured head that lingers for a little while and carbonation is about medium, providing a smooth mouthfeel with a creaminess that is perhaps helped along with the oats that I am sure are there. I don't remember anything specific about the aroma, but I recall a general impression of toasty chocolate; I'll try to elaborate in the future.

The taste is smooth and reminiscent of dark chocolate and coffee, with a really rich, roasty, slightly-earthy quality that is not sharp or overly-bitter. There's something else in there as well; a very definite smokiness. I am assuming that some sort of smoked malt is in the grain bill somewhere, but I do not know for sure. I definitely remember now that the smokiness contributed really nicely to the character of the beer and made it almost like sitting at a campfire...or perhaps in front of a fireplace. It was certainly a nice touch!

The cinnamon and hot chile pepper flavours are very subtle, but they are just barely there in the finish; I hope that they come out a bit over time. The hops provide a nice, gentle bitterness that is not at all overwhelming; there is also some bitterness from the roasty, chocolately malts. I am not a fan of beers that are bitter just for the sake of being bitter, but everything works out very nicely with this one - well-balanced and not too much of anything.

That's about all I can think of for now; I'll try to provide more impressions with future tastings, and will surely endeavor to get a photo, as well. In the meantime, this stout is absolutely worth a try.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 April 2017 at 12:39
This beer continues to impress, and amazingly, even my dad continues to say that this is the best stout he's tried. This is pretty high praise, since he is - in general - only interested in light lagers.

Here are some photos -

11 February 2017:



14 March 2017:



1 April 2017:



Very good stuff!
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