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Author Replies
05/21/09 12:34 PM  
So, I've been mulling over the idea for a while of doing some manner of wild beer with a bunch of cocoa nibs. Then last week I had a bottle of Fantôme Chocolat at the bar at that pretty much sealed the deal. Fantastic beer.

So, now I'm trying to brainstorm a recipe. I'm going to go for something a little lighter that most cocoa beers (ie, not a stout or porter). I'm thinking something along the 10-15 SRM range and maybe 5.5% abv. You know, middle of the road. I have a 1/2 pound of cocoa nibs that I sampled last night and they smell/taste great considering they're not exactly fresh.

The main thing I'm trying to figure out at the moment is the funk. I can't decide if I want brett-only funk, or if I want some sourness in there too. At this point I'm leaning towards brett only, mainly because I'm having a hard time imagining sour+cocoa going well together. I think right now I am leaning towards just using some Orval dregs. They're generally pretty fast, predictable, and give a nice funk that I enjoy. Although they can get a little overpowering at times.

So, what do y'all think about this? Anybody ever tried anything similar? It's certainly not something you see discussed often.

05/21/09 01:00 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
Sounds interesting. I don't know if you listen to the brewing network, but the had Lagunitas on recently and they discussed using cocoa nibs. Check it out: http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/499
05/21/09 01:45 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
Yeah, I heard that show and it was pretty good. Although I guess I'll give it another listen, since I have them all on my ipod here at work. :)

I've used the nibs a couple times before with decent success, so now I'm trying to think outside the box a little and use them in something wild.

The idea of using a more, shall we say basic, recipe is to let the cocoa shine through a little more. This idea came to me a while back when I first tried New Belgium Giddy Up. It was the first time I'd seen coffee used in a lighter beer and I thought it played really nicely. So I figured why not try the same thing with cocoa.

Chris Kennedy
05/21/09 01:53 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
I don't know, I think sourness could be good in a chocolate beer. Think chocolate covered cherries. Maybe a 100% Brett L beer with a bit of bacteria thrown in the secondary?
05/21/09 02:26 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
Hmmmm. You raise a good point about the whole chocolate cherries thing.

Although one thing I know for sure is I'm not going to do this as a 100% brett. There's a good chance I'll be brewing this Monday since I have the day off and no other plans. Not nearly enough time to build up a brett starter. (Plus I'd have to order some Lambicus as I have none on hand). As far as what bugs I DO have on hand. From memory it's something like:

WL Claussenii

WL Brux (maybe???)

WY lacto

WY Pedio

WY Berliner blend

WY Old ale blend

And a culture of Vinnie's bugs

Plus I can get any number of bottles fairly easily or could blend in small amounts of my already aging wild beers.

05/21/09 03:00 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
I also had a Fantome Chocolat the other day. I had had one a year or so back and recalled it as clean-tasting, decent but unimpressive. This current batch seems much more characterful to me, and I did enjoy it (despite being warned by the guy who gave it to me that it was 'weird' :-) ).

Just for the record, as you likely know the Fantome is about 8% ABV and the Chocolat is noted as also using I believe some red pepper in the mix (and who knows what else from the depths of Dany's id). I thought that the higher alcohol helped meld and offset the spicy, etc flavors. My recollection of the tartness in this beer was minimal (esp. when tasted next to a Printemps).

I would think Orval/B. Brux too horsey/harsh for this kind of thing. Why not stick to your inspiration and culture up some Fantome dregs for the secondary? I have had good luck getting viable bugs from them.

05/21/09 03:36 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
This was the first time I had tried this beer so I have nothing to compare, but it jived well with what I had been pondering in my head for a while. I realize that the Fantome was stronger than I'm aiming, and I noticed the pepper mentioned on the bottle (although I didn't notice it much in the taste - to be fair, it was on my birthday and I'd already enjoyed several beers prior to this one :-) ). You're right though that it was too sour. It had a little bit mixed with the funk, but it was subtle. We chased this with a bottle of Fou' Foune and there was no comparison on the tartness scale.

I like your idea of culturing up some Fantome. Maybe I should head down to Whole Foods later and see what they've got. I've been meaning to pick up a couple bottles of Pliny anyways. :)

I WAS eyeballing Vinnie's bugs though and trying to think how that would be.

05/22/09 01:56 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
tank, interesting concept. It sounds like you are planning then to lay off the dark grains. Very off-center, I'm impressed! Do you have a thought on how effective the cocoa nips will be for coloring on their own?

I personally don't agree with the go sour because of chocolate covered cherries thing. Sour offers the possibility of cherry character but by no means the promise, and bacteria with potential to sour can go miles beyond any sour character you'd get from any cherry/chocolate confection. I think in the end you would find that chocolate covered cherries were not a reasonable model on which to make your decision.

It sounds like this experiment will be a first for you, IMO you're best bet is to not get too crazy with the wild bacteria until you have documented what the nibs will do without the presence of dark grains. I would have to believe such yeast management would hold the potential to severely overwhelm the impact of the nibs. If it were me I would design the beer to showcase the nibs and involve other significant flavor producers a second time around - if you believe the nibs can stand up to that.

05/22/09 04:08 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
Steve, yes, I am planning on laying off the dark grains for the most part. I am considering putting in a little bit of medium crystal. Maybe 5% caramunich or so. For a little body and whatnot. I do not know the color contribution of the nibs themselves, but that is one of the reasons why I like the idea of using a lighter beer for the base. I've got to assume that at least some color will come out of them with some extended aging, but to what effect that'll have I'm not sure yet. The Fantome did not have much dark malt character, and was fairly light for a "cocoa beer" (amber/light brown).

Right now I'm still in the agreement that I don't want much sour, although a little would be fine. But as you mentioned, that can be a difficult thing to control. I might be able to control it slightly with IBUs, although I don't want overly bitter either. I'm thinking maybe about 20-25 IBUs. Certainly more than many "sour" beers, but still balanced towards malt/funk.

In general I do plan on keeping this fairly simple. It's a first in the use of cocoa and funk together for me, as well as cocoa in a light/med beer. But I've used the nibs before. After a couple weeks they give a noticeable flavor in a stout/porter. So we'll see what they do after several months with some bugs. I still like the idea of using Fantome dregs for the bugs. Fairly simple in that I should mostly only get brett and lacto. I've also thought of using JP dregs (if I can find a bottle of something - been tough lately) as they are generally not very overwhelming with funk, but nicely balanced. I certainly won't be pitching any Cantillon dregs or anything like that! ; )

Roughly I'm thinking something like:

80% 2-row

15% wheat malt

5% caramunich

20-25ibus of magnum.

primary with a clean sacch strain and secondary for 6+ months with the nibs and a touch of funk. Figure it this way, I can always add more cocoa. : )

05/22/09 04:22 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
Ah, the nibs go into the secondary? More interesting still. This sounds like a really neat experiment, love to stay in the loop as to its progress.
05/22/09 05:05 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
Yup. Nibs in secondary. I've never tried boiling them, but have heard bad things from people who have. Extracted fats and whatnot. In secondary all the alcohol soluble stuff should come out and leave the fat in tact. (At least in theory and my past experience, although this will be the longest aging on nibs for me so far)

I'll definitely keep ya posted.

05/28/09 09:13 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
The beer is brewed, and is bubbling away in primary. What does everybody think of Cuvée René bugs for funkifying? I've got a bottle in my fridge, and it's always been a fav. Nice balance of funk and sour. Not too much of either.
05/28/09 10:04 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
Hey tankdeer,

You added your secondary army yet? If you want some natural cherry from the brett I would also add whitelabs B. lambicus I always got the pie cherry aroma through my propagations and fermentations with it.

05/28/09 10:32 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
Nope. No army just yet. Still chugging along in primary and while it does that I'm trying to decide what goes in secondary. I think i'm going to avoid the chocolate/cherry thing at the moment. If this was a darker beer I'd be all for it. But I'm thinking no cherry on this one.
05/29/09 12:36 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
Anybody else have any thoughts on the Cuvée René dregs? Maybe experience using them?
Mike T
05/29/09 03:52 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
Someone over on Homebrew Talk claimed to have made a great lambic within just a couple months using Cuvee Rene dregs, never played with them myself though.
05/29/09 03:59 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
Well, it looks like I might find out, as this is where I'm leaning right now. I'm not really going for a lambic per se, but I guess we'll see what happens.

I think one of the reasons you don't see this more often is that a lot of people seem to have a negative view of Lindemans because of their sweetened lambics (which I don't care for either), but the Cuvee is just delicious, plain and simple. And live bugs too (or so I'm told). :-D

06/04/09 12:19 AM  
Re: Choco-funk
Sounds like a good experiment. I made ancho chile and cocoa nib amber earlier this year and I left the nibs and chilies in secondary too long, and they are a little overpowering for what I was looking for. I have details somewhere and I have a bottle or two of it left (it was only a 1 gallon experiment) although it never carbonated right. Let me know if you want to try it, it has a weird tartness not sure from what but it definately isn't from bugs. Similiar to how saisons sometimes have slight tartness

The Fantome Choclat sounds cool and would love to try it, what bar did you have it at?

06/04/09 01:33 AM  
Re: Choco-funk
What bar? Hamilton's of course! : )
06/20/09 08:00 AM  
Re: Choco-funk
Tank - How's the Chocofunk doing these days? I was considering doing a funked Chocolate Saison using 3724 for primary and Roselare for secondary. What was your final recipe? I was thinking just adding 4oz of Carafa for grains and using either nibs or cocoa powder.
06/22/09 11:24 AM  
Re: Choco-funk
Recipe was pretty much what was listed above. Primaried with notty for a couple weeks and that took it down to about 1.012, the racked onto 1/2 lb of organic cocoa nibs and added the dregs of a bottle of Cuvée René a couple days after that. I noticed that after I added the dregs I saw some activity pick up a couple days afterwards. We'll see how it is in a few months.
06/24/09 03:46 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
Tank - this is what I brewed today:

8# American Pils

3# Wheat

.5# Caramunich I

.25# Carafa II

.125# Black Patent

.4oz Magnum 60min

.75oz Saaz 5min

9oz Cocoa Powder 0min

Wyeast 3724

OG 1.064 (8 points higher than anticipated)

IBUs ~20

I was planning on pitching the Roselare cake in secondary and some other dregs throughout (having a bottle of Bruery Saison de Lente tonight), and perhaps some cocoa nibs/cinnamon sticks. Looking forward to it, the sample was delicious.

06/24/09 05:42 PM  
Re: Choco-funk
Sounds nice man. I have't had that Saison de Lente yet, but I hear it's nice.


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