Author Topic: Caramel in beer / Sanitizing cacao nibs  (Read 1029 times)

Offline mattybrass

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Caramel in beer / Sanitizing cacao nibs
« on: August 11, 2014, 06:15:14 PM »
Hey,

My LHBS carries organic cacao nibs from brewers best and ive seen two batches becoming infected both that were aging on these which makes me think they need to be sanitized to kill anything funky on them before use. Whats the best way to do this?

Also I was talking to someone who wanted to put some homemade soft caramel into his beer. I advised the best way might be to separate some of the wort into a double boiler and melt the caramel into that before adding to the beer, or even adding back to the beer at flame out. Would you retain any of the caramel flavor? Certainly it would add gravity to the beer because of the sugar. Do you think there would be any negative contribution to the beer/equipment, maybe head retention to the beer? or sticking to your equipment?

Offline erockrph

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Re: Caramel in beer / Sanitizing cacao nibs
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2014, 06:33:47 PM »
Hey,

My LHBS carries organic cacao nibs from brewers best and ive seen two batches becoming infected both that were aging on these which makes me think they need to be sanitized to kill anything funky on them before use. Whats the best way to do this?

Also I was talking to someone who wanted to put some homemade soft caramel into his beer. I advised the best way might be to separate some of the wort into a double boiler and melt the caramel into that before adding to the beer, or even adding back to the beer at flame out. Would you retain any of the caramel flavor? Certainly it would add gravity to the beer because of the sugar. Do you think there would be any negative contribution to the beer/equipment, maybe head retention to the beer? or sticking to your equipment?

As far as the nibs go, I'd soak them in some high-proof neutral spirit (vodka or 151 Rum), then add the whole thing into the fermenter.

For the caramel - this is just sugar/water caramel, right? If there's butter or some fat in them then I'd be worried about head retention, otherwise it should be fine. I think your double-boiler idea would be fine. Unlike other sugars, I'd guess that you'd be able to keep some caramel flavor in the finished beer, since we typically caramelize the runnings on Scottish ales and that works just fine.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Caramel in beer / Sanitizing cacao nibs
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2014, 06:51:19 PM »

As far as the nibs go, I'd soak them in some high-proof neutral spirit (vodka or 151 Rum), then add the whole thing into the fermenter.

For the caramel - this is just sugar/water caramel, right? If there's butter or some fat in them then I'd be worried about head retention, otherwise it should be fine. I think your double-boiler idea would be fine. Unlike other sugars, I'd guess that you'd be able to keep some caramel flavor in the finished beer, since we typically caramelize the runnings on Scottish ales and that works just fine.

+1.  I soak cacao nibs in vodka. And as long as it's a sugar and water caramel (butter/buttery compounds never good in beer ) the caramel idea does bring Scottish ales to mind.
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Offline mattybrass

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Re: Caramel in beer / Sanitizing cacao nibs
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2014, 04:56:50 PM »
how long would you recommend soaking them for, 24-48 hrs?

Also how much do you typically use in 5 gallon batches?

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Caramel in beer / Sanitizing cacao nibs
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2014, 06:47:03 PM »
how long would you recommend soaking them for, 24-48 hrs?

Also how much do you typically use in 5 gallon batches?

I soak them for a day or two in ~ 2 oz vodka. Then into the keg (vodka and all)  in a hop canister,and then pull them when the flavor is where I want. I've also added them several times without soaking at all and not had any infection.

EDIT -  I use 3-4 oz in 5 gallon. I agree with Denny that adding most things post-fermentation isn't a big concern with the lower pH and alcohol present. I soaked the nibs in vodka, as much as anything, to see what effect it would have on flavor (not a ton IMO) as opposed to adding alone. I never felt I needed to soak them purely for anti-germ reasons.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2014, 10:01:29 PM by HoosierBrew »
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Offline arustyt

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Re: Caramel in beer / Sanitizing cacao nibs
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2014, 08:20:24 PM »
Are the nibs you bought raw or roasted? I've used cacao nibs once in a Chocolate Porter. Not knowing any better I bought raw nibs and then roasted them myself based on advice. I think the roasting may help kill some of the bad stuff, although you don't roast them very hot or long. I did soak them in just enough vodka to cover them before adding to secondary.
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Offline denny

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Re: Caramel in beer / Sanitizing cacao nibs
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2014, 08:22:34 PM »
Are the nibs you bought raw or roasted? I've used cacao nibs once in a Chocolate Porter. Not knowing any better I bought raw nibs and then roasted them myself based on advice. I think the roasting may help kill some of the bad stuff, although you don't roast them very hot or long. I did soak them in just enough vodka to cover them before adding to secondary.

Or you could just spray them with some StarSan.  I actually don't find it necessary to do anything to stuff I add post fermentation.  I've often added chanterelle mushrooms that I picked myself and have done nothing more than simply brush off the dirt.  The alcohol content and low pH offer you a lot if protection.
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