Fall seems to be arriving just in time in New York City. While the leaves are still green on the few trees I encounter, the streets no longer remind me daily of sweaty afternoons of soccer or four square on the blacktop at recess. Colleen has been entering a pumpkin flavor frenzy, seeking out pumpkin in beer, baked goods, and even yogurt. For the time being I’m refusing to make a pumpkin beer myself, but nonetheless my thoughts turn toward the flavors of the season. Nuts are a key component of many of my favorite Fall foods, and peanuts seem well-suited to capture the transition of summer into fall. After searching about the internet for peanut-centric beer, I found that some breweries and homebrewers have found success in capturing a peanut butter flavor by using some unusual ingredients. Peanuts and peanut butter are not recommended for use due to their high oil content, which makes the beer viscous, slick, and destroys head retention. The two successful approaches taken by homebrewers and commercial brewers alike were to use powdered peanut butter or peanut butter flavor extract. Many homebrewers seemed down on the idea of using flavor extract, as if it were cheating or somehow deficient, but some of the most successful peanut butter beers have been made using breakfast cereal for flavoring, and the cereals undoubtedly make use of flavor extract.
Not quite adventurous enough to dump a box of cereal into my carboy, I opted for powdered peanut butter and formulated the following recipe (for a 3 gallon batch):
- 5 lbs Maris Otter
- 6 oz flaked oats
- 4 oz brown malt (had to substitute special roast)
- 4 oz victory malt
- 4 oz chocolate malt
- 1 oz EKG (30 mins)
- 0.75 lb powdered peanut butter (2 weeks before bottling)
- 2 oz cacao nibs (1 week before bottling)
- S-04 yeast
Brew day was a bit of a hectic mess, even though the brewing itself went easily enough. I didn’t have enough bottles for my Rye Wit and had to delay bottling until the brew shop opened. Hoping to get everything done before 5 p.m., I started brewing while the wit still occupied the carboy. Getting all the gear together and sanitized for transferring one batch out of the vessel while transferring another batch into it was a bit much to manage.
After spilling some grist and letting my strike water cool while I cleaned up, I managed to reheat my BIAB mash to 153 degrees F. The mash held very steady at that temperature for 75 minutes, after which I removed the bag and let it drain, topping off the kettle with 3 quarts of water. My pre-boil SG came in at 1.049, overshooting my target by 5 points, but without knowing my volume it was impossible to know my efficiency. After the boil and chilling I ended up with about 2.75 gallons of 1.055 wort. If I had hit my target of 3 gallons, the OG would’ve been 1.05, which would be right on my mark assuming 65% brewhouse efficiency (70% mash efficiency). I pitched the rehydrated S-04 at about 68 degrees F and put the carboy into my cooler with some ice water.
I’ve been traveling and busy most hours of the day and night, so I’m not monitoring the fermentation as closely as I normally would (also my thermometer doesn’t reach into the water bath), but since it is a small batch I’m a little more relaxed about the flavor not being spot on in this first attempt.