Sunday, 8 March 2015

Tonka Bean Beer II - Tonka Bean Stout



I am admittedly irresponsible. In the middle of the crunchiest of crunch times for the semester with midterms looming over me I decide it's a good time to plan to brew every week. I have the Spanish Cedar IIPA aging on 2.5 oz of cubed wood, but after 2 weeks of aging I'm still not getting any flavors from the wood. That beer is an experiment though, so I'll let it age up to 6 weeks before really deciding how to proceed with the next spanish cedar beer.

I've already done one other tonka bean beer, but it was also coupled with a bunch of spice additions and I overdid the cinnamon in that recipe which made it tiresome to drink. I still had my jar of tonka beans about 3/4 full after that batch and I wasn't using it for anything else so I decided to do another beer with tonka beans. This recipe uses my base oatmeal stout recipe which I call "Gato muy negro". As seen in the picture above, I took 15 tonka beans and crushed them well with the mortar and pestle before transferring them to a jar with some whiskey to pull the flavors out of the beans.


Tonka beans are an interesting ingredient, and they're illegal in the US. Up in Canada it's legal to have them and buy them, so I'll be taking advantage of that for unique brewing ingredients! The reason that they're illegal is that they contain coumarin, which apparently has some toxic effects to your liver in high doses (like beer!). Tonka beans have been used as flavoring for tobaccos and fake vanilla extracts, and the amount of tonka bean that you would have to ingest for it to be toxic would be exorbitant, so I'm not too shy to play with them.


In terms of flavor, tonka beans have a bunch of different descriptions. To me, I smell cinnamon sticks soaked in almond extract, and maybe some vanilla.. They're unique, and it's hard to describe the flavors. Trying to describe a new flavor is like trying to tell someone what bananas taste like.. I figure that these flavors would lend themselves well to a stout or a porter, and the strong roastiness should be forgiving if I tend to be heavy handed in my spice additions. I'm hoping that the thick mouthfeel from the oats and some residual sweetness go well with the tonka beans, but that they don't get in the way of being a quaffable stout to have around.


Tonka Bean Stout
OG: 1.052
26 IBUs
Mashed at 154*F

7# 2-row
1# Flaked Oats
0.75# Chocolate Malt
0.5# Roasted Barley
0.5 # Crystal 40L
0.25# Amber Malt

2 oz Fuggles - 60 mins

Fermented with Wyeast Scottish Ale @ 58*F

15 tonka beans crushed, made into tincture and beans + liquid were added after 5 days fermentation.

Water Profile:
Ca: 50 ppm
Mg: 13 ppm
Na: 22 ppm
SO4: 45 ppm
Cl: 35 ppm
HCO3: 157 ppm

I added a bit of NaCl and Calcium carbonate to my water, I'm hoping that the salt gives a richness to the malt and accentuates the maltiness a bit, and the carbonate should help with the mash pH and give the beer more mineral presence.

Update: Mar. 12: Primary fermentation seems finished, but I noticed that the temp probe fell off of the side of the carboy and was measuring the ambient temperature (I should invest in a thermowell).
I added the Tonka bean tincture today, and it smells almost exactly like cinnamon rolls!

Bottled! Tasting notes here

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