PALE ALERs Featured in BYO Magazine

Aphrodisiac Valentine’s Beers

Categories: (Beer Styles | Featured | Jan/Feb 2012)
Author Richard Bolster
Issue Jan/Feb 2012

Love is in the air in Princeton, New Jersey, or at least the stuff that inspires it. The Princeton And Local Environs Ale And Lager Enthusiasts Society (PALEALES) homebrew club gathered recently for their annual club-only homebrew competition, with a Valentine’s Day twist. The organizers set the adventurous, or I should say, amorous, brewers among the club’s members to the task of creating a beer with an “aphrodisiac” ingredient. This category featured a veritable heart-shaped box of beers brewed with assorted ingredients to help drinkers get in the mood.

The members of the PALEALES club, which was founded in 1995, gathered at Princeton Homebrew, the homebrew supply store owned by brewing oracle and PALEALES founder, Joe Bair. They came from Princeton and Piscataway and from right around the corner in Trenton, all with the hope of scoring the grand prize (besides bragging rights, of course): a $100 Princeton Homebrew Gift Certificate. About two dozen members, including first time attendees and longtime club members — mostly men, but with a solid female presence — met on an unseasonably warm day that didn’t feel much like February outside. Inside, too, things were heating up as PALEALES members’ hearts were pounding with anticipation and love . . . of homebrew.

The rules were simple. Beers were given an identifying number and the judges were told the intended style of each contest entry. All members tasted and scored the beers from 0–5 based on appearance, aroma and overall impression. Up to 10 points could be awarded for flavor, for a maximum total score of 25 points.

The competition was collegial rather than cutthroat with an emphasis on participation, education and enjoyment. Newbies were as welcome to enter the competition as were the club’s founders.

The event featured three broad categories of judging. The first two were based on gravity. Category 1 included brews with an original gravity of less than 1.060. Category 2 concoctions were those with an OG of 1.060 or higher. But the third category was where we all felt the love. The centerpiece of the afternoon, the aphrodisiac category, allowed brewers to highlight their creativity and to channel their inner Cupid.

The term “aphrodisiac,” which is derived from Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty, and which Webster’s defines as, “an agent that arouses . . . sexual desire,” was loosely interpreted by the brewers, and that was a good thing. The aphrodisiac ingredients ranged from the perennial Valentine favorite, chocolate, to beers brewed with honey, strawberry extract and, to really spice things up, ancho chile peppers.

THE RESULTS ARE IN
Dave Rawlins was inspired to create his Jolly Roger Double Mocha Porter after falling hard for Rogue Brewery’s Double Mocha. A homebrewer since 1997 who loves French roast coffee, he explained, “I was “trying to get a mocha edge.” He got his edge and stole the hearts of the judges as his beer took top honors. This smooth robust porter was dark brown, almost black, with surprisingly subtle chocolate notes. Coffee dominated — a pound of kiln coffee malt, from Belgian maltsters Franco-Belges, will do that — but never overpowered this fine brew. (See all the recipes on page 36.)

Though nosed out at the finish line, the dynamic brewing duo of Dawn Caluccio and Kate Saik were thrilled to finish second with their own chocolaty entry. Their Gato Negro – named for Kate’s thirsty feline who got a little too close to the kettle and almost met the proverbial fate of all curious cats – was a black beauty of a beer with a thick, café au lait head and a rounded milk chocolate flavor. To get that flavor this brewing tandem did their homework.

“We thought about using actual chocolate but after . . . asking many questions of our more seasoned brew buddies [in the club] we decided on using the classic Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder.” Theirs was a double whammy, too, with vanilla bean adding richness and depth of flavor.

Chocolate was clearly a hit with the judges but honey, too, was well received. Russ Acevedo’s Belgian Honey received an honorable mention.

THE BEST OF THE REST
Brewer Mike Moreken was covering all the bases. “I figured strawberries are kind of a romantic thing, you know, strawberries dipped in chocolate.” So he whipped up a strawberry-infused chocolate beer. His recipe produced a relatively light-bodied brew. And, perhaps not surprisingly, the judges were split on this one. Some said it was pleasingly sweet, while others found the berry blast too strong. Strawberry was immediately obvious in the nose but mellowed on the palate.

Mike allowed, “The brew left no doubt it was a strawberry beer. The beer had a huge strawberry aroma at about 3 weeks.” But after another month in the bottle Mike reported, “Wow, what a difference! The power of the strawberry fell nicely into the background.”

PALEALES President, Kevin Trayner considered several aphrodisiac ingredients, including saffron and oysters, before deciding to play to his own preference for hot, spicy foods. Ancho chile powder was the aphrodisiac in his Hot Chocolate Porter.

A prior attempt to brew a jalapeño lager had taught Kevin a hard lesson. “I put three peppers in the fermenter for a week and guess what, three is too many.” This time out he was more conservative but wishes he’d used more of the hot stuff. “I would add a little more pepper next time, or consider “dry hopping” with dried or roasted whole peppers.” The emphasis here was on the chocolate malt sweetness, with a minimal pepper presence.

Spared a pepper blast, our palates were able to focus on all the tasty brews in the competition.

As for the aphrodisiacs, they worked their magic. The PALEALES members were romanced by these beers. Dawn Coluccio put it best, “What’s not to love about Valentine’s Day? A good homebrew to share with family and friends . . . brings people together and that feels good.”

So for your next homebrew recipe or competition, add a dash of romance with an aphrodisiac ingredient because at this time of year, love is in air . . . and also in the beer.

Recipes
Original homebrew recipes are presented as given, with statistics calculated by BYO. One recipe was scaled from 10 gallons to 5 gallons. Conversions to all-grain or extract version by BYO.

Jolly Roger Double Mocha Porter
by Dave Rawlins
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.062 FG = 1.016
IBU = 45 ABV = 6.0%

Ingredients
11 lbs. (5.0 kg) Maris Otter pale malt
0.25 lbs. (0.11 kg) crystal malt (120 °L)
0.25 lbs. (0.11 kg) crystal malt (150 °L)
0.25 lbs. (0.11 kg) Weyermann Carafa® Type II malt
0.25 lbs. (0.11 kg) 2-row black malt
0.5 lbs. (0.23 kg) kiln coffee malt
0.5 lbs. (0.23 kg) chocolate malt
8.5 AAU Summit hops (45 mins)
(0.5 oz./14 g of 17% alpha acids)
5 AAU Willamette hops (20 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 5% alpha acids)
5 AAU Willamette hops (5 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 5% alpha acids)
75% Wyeast 1764 (Rogue Pacman)
and 25% White Labs WLP028
(Edinburg Ale) yeast

Step by Step
Mash in at 152 °F (67 °C). Hold at 152 °F (67 °C) for 60 minutes. If possible heat mash to 168 °F (76 °C) and hold for 10 minutes for mash out. Sparge with 168 °F (76 °C) water and collect 7.5 gallons (28 L) of wort or collect runoff until Plato drops to 2.0 (1.008 SG) and add water to the 7.5-gallon (28-L) mark. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops as indicated. Cool to 65–68 °F (18–20 °C) and pitch yeast. Ferment at 65–68 °F (18–20 °C) for 1 week. Transfer to secondary fermenter for 2 weeks. Crash cool at 36 °F (2.2 °C) for 1 to 2 weeks then keg or bottle. Carbonate to 2.3 to 2.5 volumes.

Jolly Roger Double Mocha Porter
(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)
OG = 1.062 FG = 1.016
IBU = 45 ABV = 6.0%

Ingredients
8.0 lbs. (3.6 kg) Muntons Light liquid malt extract
0.25 lbs. (0.11 kg) crystal malt (120 °L)
0.25 lbs. (0.11 kg) crystal malt (150 °L)
0.25 lbs. (0.11 kg) Weyermann Carafa® Type II malt
0.25 lbs. (0.11 kg) 2-row black malt
0.5 lbs. (0.23 kg) kiln coffee malt
0.5 lbs. (0.23 kg) chocolate malt
8.5 AAU Summit hops (45 mins)
(0.5 oz./14 g of 17% alpha acids)
5 AAU Willamette hops (20 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 5% alpha acids)
5 AAU Willamette hops (5 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 5% alpha acids)
75% Wyeast 1764 (Rogue
Pacman) and 25% White Labs
WLP028 (Edinburg Ale) yeast

Step by Step
Steep grains at 152 °F (67 °C). Stir in half of the malt extract and boil wort for 60 minutes, adding hops as indicated. Stir in remaining malt extract in final 15 minutes of the boil. Ferment at 65–68 °F (18–20 °C).

Gato Negro
by Dawn Coluccio
and Kate Saik
(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)
OG = 1.054 FG = 1.013
IBU = 21 ABV = 5.2%

Ingredients
6.0 lbs. (2.7 kg) dark malt extract
1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) domestic special pale malt
1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) medium crystal malt
0.50 lb. (0.23 kg) roasted barley
0.25 lb. (0.11 kg) chocolate malt
0.50 lb. (0.23 kg) oatmeal
1.75 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 whole vanilla beans
5 AAU UK Kent Golding hops (45 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 5% alpha acids)
8.5 AAU UK Northdown hops (5 mins)
(1 oz./28 g of 8.5% alpha acids)
White Labs WLP002 (English Ale) yeast

Step by Step
Heat 1.0 gallon (3.8 L) of water to 170 °F (77 °C). Add grain bag and steep for 30 minutes. Sparge grains at 168 °F (76 °C) bringing volume up to 2.0 gallons (7.6 L). Return to boil. Turn off heat and add malt extract. Boil for 60 minutes adding hops as indicated. Turn off heat. Split and scrape vanilla beans and add. Add cocoa powder. Stir thoroughly. Bring the total volume up to 5 gallons (19 L). Cool to 70 °F (21 °C) and pitch yeast. Ferment at 60–75 °F (16–24 °C). Rack to secondary when gravity is 1.016 or lower. Ferment until action has ceased and beer has clarified. Prime, bottle and age at room temperature for at least two weeks before chilling.

Strawberry Choco
by Mike Moreken
(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)
OG = 1.051 FG = 1.013
IBU = 23 ABV = 5.3%

Ingredients
1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) crystal malt (60 °L) 
0.20 lb. (91 g) CaraPils® malt
1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) pale malt
3.2 lb. (1.5 kg) golden liquid malt extract (45 min)
3.0 lb. (1.4 kg) amber liquid malt extract (45 min)
6.1 AAU Nugget hops (60 mins)
(0.5 oz./14 g of 12.2% alpha acids)
1 whirlfloc tablet (15 mins)
Nottingham dried yeast
3.0 lb. (1.4 kg) Sweet Cherry Puree Vintner’s Harvest (secondary)
0.33 cup baker’s chocolate (secondary)
2.0 oz. (57 g) strawberry extract (bottling)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) lactose (bottling)
3⁄4 cup brown sugar (for priming)

Step by Step
Bring about 2.5 gallons (9.5 L) to roughly 155 °F (68 °C). Soak grain for 30 minutes. Remove grain. Bring to a boil. Remove pot from heat and stir in extract. Return to boil for 60 minutes. Add hops and whirlfloc as indicated. Add cool sterilized water to make 5 gallons (19 L). Aerate and pitch yeast at 72 °F (22 °C).

Ferment for one week then rack to secondary. Add cherry puree and chocolate to secondary. Move to cooler area for two weeks at 70 °F (21 °C), if possible. At bottling, add strawberry flavor and lactose, stir gently. Prime, bottle and condition at room temperature for four weeks minimum.

(OG and FG are given as before lactose and fruit added. Estimated ABV includes sugar from strawberry puree. Lactose will boost beer’s FG by about 4 “gravity points.”)

Strawberry Choco
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.051 FG = 1.013
IBU = 23 ABV = 5.3%

Ingredients
8.5 lb. (3.9 kg) pale malt
1 lb. 6 oz. (0.63 kg) crystal (60 °L)
0.20 lb. (91 g) CaraPils® malt
6.1 AAU Nugget hops (60 mins)
(0.5 oz./14 g of 12% alpha acids)
1 whirlfloc tablet (15 mins)
Nottingham dried ale yeast
3.0 lb. (1.4 kg) Sweet Cherry Puree Vintner’s Harvest (secondary)
0.33 cup baker’s chocolate (secondary)
2.0 oz. (57 g) strawberry extract (bottling)
0.50 lb. (0.23 kg) lactose (bottling)
3⁄4 cup brown sugar (for priming)

Step by Step
Mash at 152 °F (67 °C). Boil for 90 minutes, adding hops with 60 minutes remaining. Ferment at 72 °F (22 °C), then rack to secondary, adding fruit puree and chocolate. Add lactose and fruit extract at bottling, along with priming sugar.

Hot Chocolate Porter
by Kevin Trayner
(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)
OG = 1.050 FG = 1.012
IBU = 53 ABV = 4.8%

Ingredients
6.6 lbs. (3.0 kg) amber liquid malt extract
0.50 lb. (0.23 kg) chocolate malt
0.50 lb. (0.23 kg) black patent
0.50 lb. (0.23 kg) CaraMunich® malt
2.5 oz. (71 g) Ancho chile powder
5.0 oz. (142 g) cocoa powder
8.0 oz. (227 g) milk chocolate bar
4.5 AAU Northern Brewer hops (60 mins)
(0.50 oz./14 g of 9% alpha acids)
9.0 AAU Northern Brewer hops (45 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 9% alpha acids)
4.5 AAU Northern Brewer hops (10 mins)
(0.50 oz./14 g of 9% alpha acids)
Wyeast 1099 (Whitbread Ale) yeast

Step by Step
Bring two gallons water to 160 °F (71 °C). Turn off heat and add specialty grains. Steep for 30 minutes. Stir in extract. Return to heat and bring to boil. Add cocoa powder, chile pepper, and chocolate bar. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops as indicated. Remove from boil. Top up to 5.0 gallons (19 L). Cool, aerate and pitch yeast at 72 °F (22 °C). Ferment at 65–68 °F (18–20 °C) for two weeks then rack to secondary. Prime, bottle and condition at room temperature for one week.

You can use different peppers for different flavors. I like the smokiness of Ancho. Alternate pepper flavor method: Sear 1–3 whole peppers on a grill. Add to secondary.

Hot Chocolate Porter
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.050 FG = 1.012
IBU = 53 ABV = 4.8%

Ingredients
8.5 lbs. (3.9 kg) pale malt
0.50 lb. (0.23 kg) chocolate malt
0.50 lb. (0.23 kg) black patent
1.25 lb. (0.57 kg) CaraMunich® malt
2.5 oz. (71 g) Ancho chile powder
5.0 oz. (142 g) cocoa powder
8.0 oz. (227 g) milk chocolate bar
4.5 AAU Northern Brewer hops (60 mins)
(0.50 oz./14 g of 9% alpha acids)
9.0 AAU Northern Brewer hops (45 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 9% alpha acids)
4.5 AAU Northern Brewer hops (10 mins)
(0.50 oz./14 g of 9% alpha acids)
Wyeast 1099 (Whitbread Ale) yeast

Step by Step
Mash at 152 °F (67 °C). Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops as indicated. Ferment at 65–68 °F (18–20 °C) for two weeks then rack to secondary. Prime, bottle and condition at room temperature for one week.

Richard Bolster wrote about pretzels in the September 2011 issue of BYO.