Toasted Coconut, Vanilla, and Cacao Nib Baltic Porter

coconut-balticGregory and I decided to brew another batch of our Baltic porter (Baltic Tiger) so we’d have a dark brew to drink through the winter.  We were originally just going to brew another regular version, but decided to tailor this batch to our friend and business partner, Chris Richardson’s, tastes by adding coconut, vanilla, and cacao nibs.

For the specialty ingredients additions, Gregory soaked 6 oz. of cacao nibs and 3 vanilla beans in Bullet rye whiskey for a week before toasting 1 pound of coconut flakes in the oven at 350F for 15 minutes.  He added both of these to the beer in a tertiary fermenter, and a week later we bottled it with brown sugar as our priming agent.

We again used California lager yeast, and cold steeped the roasted grains.  It was nearly a two month process from brewday to bottling, but we did no extensive cold maturation this time around.  We also tweaked the grain bill a bit for this version.

Recipe and tasting notes below:

Toasted Coconut, Vanilla, and Cacao Nib Baltic Porter

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 21.01
Anticipated OG: 1.088
Anticipated SRM: 56.0
Anticipated IBU: 27
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes


42.84% — 9.00 Lbs. Munich 6°L
28.56% — 6.00 Lbs. U.S. 2-Row
07.14% — 1.50 Lbs. Melanoidin Malt
04.76% — 1.00 Lbs. Chocolate Malt
04.76% — 1.00 Lbs. Flaked Rye
02.38% — 0.50 Lbs. Crystal 120L
02.38% — 0.50 Lbs. Special B
01.81% — 0.38 Lbs. Roasted Barley
01.81% — 0.38 Lbs. Black Malt
01.19% — 0.25 Lbs. Chocolate Rye
01.19% — 0.25 Lbs. Chocolate Malt
01.19% — 0.25 Lbs. Chocolate Wheat


1.00 oz. Perle (Pellet, 5.5% AA) @ 90 min.
0.45 oz. Fuggle (Pellet, 3.6% AA) @ 90 min.
1.00 oz. Fuggle (Pellet, 3.6% AA) @ 30 min.
0.50 oz. Fuggle (Pellet, 3.6% AA) @ 10 min.
0.50 oz. East Kent Golding (Pellet, 5.0% AA) @ 1 min.
0.50 oz. East Kent Golding (Pellet, 5.0% AA) @ 0 min.


1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 10 min.
6.00 oz. Cacao Nibs
3.00 Vanilla beans
1.00 Lbs. Toasted Coconut Flakes


Wyeast 2112 — California Lager

Water Profile

1.00 g Calcium Chloride

Mash Schedule

Single Infusion – 90 min @ 155F


11.28.16 — Made a 1L starter of California Lager yeast

11.29.16 — Cold steeped 1.26 Lbs. of roasted grains in 2.5 quarts of room temperature water for 24 hours.

Brewed on 11.30.16 with Gregory

11.30.16 — Added cold steep addition @ 10 min. to flameout

11.30.16 — Chilled wort to 65F and pitched the starter

12.02.16 — Signs of moderate fermentation activity

12.07.16 — Transferred to secondary

01.10.17 — Soaked 6 oz. of cacao nibs and 3 vanilla beans in Bullet rye whiskey

01.17.17 — Toasted 1 Lbs. coconut flakes @350F for 15 minutes

01.17.17 — Added the coconut, cacao nibs, and vanilla beans to beer in tertiary fermenter

01.24.17 — Bottled 5.5 gallons @ 2.2 volumes CO2 using brown sugar as priming agent

Tasting Notes — 02. 26.17 (bottle pour)

Black in color and opaque with a billowy tan head which laces thin and lingers.  Toasted coconut dominates the nose with a hint of caramel, vanilla, and roasted malts supporting.  Coconut is front and center on the palate, giving way to bittersweet chocolate and a hint of black licorice.  Boozy alcohol notes and flavors of dark roast coffee meet mid palate and dry out the finish.  Bittersweet chocolate and espresso notes linger for some time.

Calculated OG: 1.086
Calculated FG: 1.021
Approx. ABV: 8.5%


Merry Christmas, It’s Endless Stout!

Barrel 04Way back in late January of 2014 Gregory, our co-worker Matt, and I brewed an American Stout of moderate strength to be aged in a used whiskey barrel from local distillery Westland Distillery.  Each of us brewed roughly 18 gallons of beer to fill the 53 gallon barrel and each of us decided to create different versions of the brew after it was done barrel aging.  Nearly a year later, I have finally finished with my fourth and final version of the stout which is a soured version.  This post will review all four of my interpretations and I’ll post the original base recipe that spent approximately 5.5 months in the barrel.

First, we’ll start with the regular old whiskey barrel aged American Stout: we all agreed on a base beer recipe and tweaked it slightly with each subsequent brewing based on our results.  Disappointed with efficiency on some of the batches, our final batch incorporated some DME in order to boost the gravity of the overall brew.  The end result was a beer between 6% – 6.5% ABV that was a little overwhelmed by the boozy notes and the wood tannins that the remaining whiskey and barrel imparted.

Feeling that this framework would be able to take on some other flavors which might wed well with the barrel characteristics, I decided on my next two renditions simultaneously.

My second version saw strong cold-brewed lavender coffee, and Madagascar vanilla beans added to the base beer.  The lavender coffee was purchased from Pelindaba Lavender on Friday Harbor and was added at bottling, whereas the vanilla beans were found at Metropolitan Market and were used as a week long “dry-hop” prior to packaging.  This version turned out the best in my opinion and has been dubbed The Friday Harbourbon Barrel Aged Stout.

The third adaptation I made saw pie cherries, organic cacao nibs, and Madagascar vanilla beans added to the base beer.  I pasteurized the cherries the same way I did for The Cherry Ghost and the beer sat on all of these ingredients for two extra weeks before bottling.  The cherries are the most prevalent flavor component and they add a slight tartness to the beer without turning it into a true sour ale.

The fourth and final version is a soured version that I just bottled on December 17th 2014.  This rendition was kind of an afterthought as we had about 5 gallons of stout left over from our last barrel top-off batch.  It was just sitting in a carboy when Gregory, Matt, Derek (another friend and co-worker), & I decided to brew a Flanders Red Ale to age next in the whiskey barrel.  After the first of those batches was complete, I added the yeast cake from the Flanders Red Ale which utilized Wyeast 3763 Roeselare Blend and let it undergo a long secondary fermentation in which I also added the bottle dregs from Girardin Gueuze 1882, and the yeast cake from an English Mild that Gregory and I fermented with Wyeast 1318 London Ale III & White Labs WLP645 Brettanomyces Claussenii.  The resulting beer has a moderate tartness and a pleasant funkiness; I’ll elaborate more once it has carbonated and can be properly tasted.

Here is the recipe for my last edition of the base beer:

Roesalare StoutWestland Distillery Whiskey Barrel Aged American Stout

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 13.76
Anticipated OG: 1.069
Anticipated SRM: 43.0
Anticipated IBU: 31.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes


74% – 10.31 Lbs. Marris Otter Pale (UK)
05% – 0.75 Lbs. Flaked Rye
05% – 0.75 Lbs. Golden Naked Oats (UK)
04% – 0.60 Lbs. Midnight Wheat
03% – 0.45 Lbs. Crystal 70L
02% – 0.30 Lbs. Black Patent
02% – 0.30 Lbs. Chocolate Rye
02% – 0.30 Lbs. Chocolate Wheat


0.50 oz. Columbus (Pellet, 15.0% AA) @ 60 min.
1.00 0z. Perle (Pellet, 7.8% AA) @ 15 min.


1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.


Ferementis Safale US-05

Water Profile

1.00 tsp Calcium Chloride
1.00 tsp Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single Infusion  – 60 min @ 156F


Brewed 02.17.14

02.17.14 – Chilled wort to 65F before pitching rehydrated yeast.

02.19.14 –  Vigorous fermentation, temperature holding steady @ 60-65F.

03.03.14 – Transferred to whiskey barrel for conditioning.

07.21.14 – Transferred stout out of barrel and began different renditions.

Tasting Notes

Regular version: Lots of whiskey flavor on the front end that tends to mask the base beer; finishes dry with some noticeable wood tannins from the barrel.  This beer has mellowed over time with the whiskey flavor blending better with the base beer; still lots of barrel character but hints of bittersweet chocolate and cola have asserted themselves.

Lavender Coffee Vanilla Bean version: Although lavender coffee was used, the lavender notes are subtle while the roast from the coffee is bold.  It has aged well and the flavors meld into the whiskey character nicely.  Very subtle hints of vanilla on the drying finish.  Drinks better now (7 months later) than it did when first bottled.

Cherry Chocolate Vanilla Bean version: This one tends to come off as more sweet than the other versions.  Its viscous and mouth-coating with the cherries lending a slight tang to the finish.  The chocolate flavors from the cacao nibs are subdued; its slightly nutty.  Vanilla could be more apparent.

Sour version (non-barrel aged): This turned out rather well for the afterthought experiment that it was.  There’s lots of body and sweetness to this one which could be from the top off batch containing all of the DME we used (which would mean it wasn’t converted properly) which I rather like since it becomes fairly sour on the finish.  It has notes of tropical fruit and some restrained funk on the finish.

Calculated OG: 1.060
Calculated FG: 1.015
Approx. ABV: 5.9%

The Baltic Tiger – Cold Steeped Rye Baltic Porter

Baltic TigerAccording to the BJCP Baltic porter “often has the malt flavors reminiscent of an English brown porter and the restrained roast of a schwarzbier, but with a higher OG and alcohol content than either.  Very complex, with multi-layered flavors.”  Typically, Baltic porters will utilize debittered black malts (malts with most of the grain husk removed prior to kilning) in order to reduce the bitterness and astringency imparted by tannins found in regular dark roasted malts.

Instead of simply using debittered malts for this recipe, Gregory and I decided we wanted to obtain the color, aroma, and flavor of some of our favorite dark malts without their bitterness.  In order to do so we cold steeped the highly roasted malts of our grain bill in room temperature water for 24 hours prior to brew day.  The American Homebrewers Association notes, “Cold steeping is a process popularized by Mary Anne Gruber at Briess.  The idea was to find a way to extract the favorable flavors from dark specialty grains, but leave behind the harsh characteristics, giving the brewer a greater level of control over the color of the beer.”

On the morning of brew day, I strained the cold steeped portion of the wort from the grain and we added it to the boil @ 10 minutes to flameout.  This should ensure that the cold steeped portion is sanitized without enough contact time for the heat to bring out any of the harsh attributes we hope to avoid by cold steeping in the first place.

Baltic porter is also usually fermented with a lager yeast strain or an ale strain at a lower temperature.  As we don’t currently have the space or equipment for proper lagering, we’ve opted to use California Lager yeast which retains lager characteristics @ warmer fermentation temperatures; it’s currently fermenting away vigorously.

Cold SteepThe Baltic Tiger – Cold Steeped Rye Baltic Porter

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 19.26
Anticipated OG: 1.097
Anticipated SRM: 38.0
Anticipated IBU: 27.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes


46% – 9.0 Lbs. Munich 6°L
31% – 6.0 Lbs. Belgian 2-row Pilsner
07% – 1.5 Lbs. Melanoidin Malt
05% – 1.0 Lbs. Flaked Rye
02% – 0.5 Lbs. Special B
01% – 0.38 Lbs. Roasted Barley
01% – 0.38 Lbs. Black Patent
01% – 0.25 Lbs. Roasted Rye
01% – 0.25 Lbs. Chocolate Malt


1.00 oz. Perle (Pellet, 7.8% AA) @ 90 min.
0.75 0z. Fuggle (Pellet, 4.8% AA) @ 30 min.
0.50 0z. Fuggle (Pellet, 4.8% AA) @ 10 min.
0.50 oz. East Kent Golding (Pellet, 5.0% AA) @ 1 min.
0.45 oz. Bramling Cross (Pellet, 6.0% AA) @ 0 min.


1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.


Wyeast 2112 California Lager (starter)

Water Profile

1.00 tsp Calcium Chloride
1.00 tsp Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Sacch Rest – 60 min @ 152F
Mashout – 10 min @ 170F


12.01.14 – Made a stir-plate 1.5L starter with 1 Wyeast 2112 smack pack.  Brewtoad suggests 714 billion cells to ferment 5.5 gal.  Cold crashed and decanted morning of brew day.

12.02.14 – Cold steeped 1.26 Lbs. of roasted grains in 2.5 quarts of room temperature water for 24 hours.

Brewed 12.03.14 with Gregory

12.03.14 – Added cold steeped wort @ 10 min.

12.03.14 – Chilled wort to 65F before pitching yeast starter.

12.04.14 –  Vigorous fermentation, temperature holding steady @ 60-65F.

12.18.14 – Transferred to secondary fermentor for conditioning.

01.07.15 – Kegged the porter and brought it into work to cold condition in the walk in at 38F for a month.

Baltic PorterTasting Notes 06.19.15

Wonderful aromatics of bittersweet cocoa and dark fruits (plum and black cherry).  Initial malt sweetness and full mouthfeel on the palate reminiscent of raisins, baking spices, and candied nuts with some faint biscuit notes in the background.  Moves into notes of bittersweet chocolate, burnt sugar, and highly roasted malts which finishes on the dryish side with deep roast, hints of espresso bitterness, rye spiciness, and alcohol warmth.  Lingering pleasant bitterness on the far finish.  Perhaps a bit too dry per style, but an excellent beer through and through.

Calculated OG: 1.097
Calculated FG: 1.026
Approx. ABV: 9.3%