Brewing with coconuts is the latest buzz. But, as a craft brewer, how do you achieve the perfect coconut flavor in your beer? When should you add the coconut and how much should you add?
Our brewing clients ask these questions on a regular basis, so we set out to get some answers!
First, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that achieving a delicious coconut beer starts with using fresh, preservative-free, and high-quality ingredients. Obviously, we think our organic coconut is the best you can get. Can you use the stuff you get at the supermarket? Sure. But if you value taste above all else, you will not regret purchasing our all organic, premium toasted coconut chips. They are loaded with flavor and contain nothing but coconut. You’ll love the quality, and your clients will love the taste!
That brings us to our next point about brewing with coconuts. Should you use coconut flakes? Coconut chips? Toasted coconut? Untoasted coconut? What about sweetened vs unsweetened? Coconut tinctures? With all of the choices, it can be tough to decide.
The type of coconut you use will depend on the flavor profile you want to achieve. If you want a subtle coconut flavor, use real, unsweetened toasted coconut. Pre-sweetened coconut often contains preservatives, which can cause your flavor to suffer. (Sometimes sulfites or sulfur dioxide is added, which can be toxic to yeast.)
So why use toasted coconut instead of untoasted coconut? Toasting the coconut first should reduce the oils that can kill head retention. You can buy pre-toasted, or, if you prefer to toast them yourself, untoasted is also available. Either way, toasting the chips is recommended. When using our organic toasted coconut chips, you’ll want to add ¼ to ½ pound of chips per gallon (adjusting for your personal taste preference). Most of our brewers add it at the end of the boil or to the secondary fermenter.
If you want a stronger coconut flavor, you have a couple of options. First, you can make your own tincture. A popular option is to soak fresh shredded coconut in vodka. You can even experiment with whiskey, rum, bourbon, or any number of other spirits. For this method, it’s important to choose a high-quality vodka/spirit and fresh, toasted coconut chips. Cover the chips entirely with your spirit of choice and let them soak for a week or more before straining and adding to your keg.
The final option for incorporating coconut flavor into beer is to use coconut extract. The main thing to remember when using extracts is that a little goes a long way. Extracts can quickly overpower your other flavors, and once they’re in there, they’re in there! To avoid this issue, it’s a good idea to measure out a sample of beer and add a couple of drops at a time until you get the desired result. Once you’ve perfected the taste, you can scale this up for the entire batch of beer.
As a craft brewer, you have almost limitless options when it comes to flavoring your brews. Why not try combining our organic toasted coconut chips with other flavors such as cinnamon, vanilla or even chocolate? The sky really is the limit.
Do you have a favorite coconut beer recipe or tip for brewing with coconuts that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it! Leave your tips, comments, or recipes below.
Want to learn more about beer brewing? We get some of the best information from Craft Beer & Brewing magazine. You can check them out here.