This post was contributed by Dan Bentley from BrewConductor.com. Thanks Dan!
Coconut provides a beautiful, delicate flavour when used correctly, originating in Malaysian cuisine; coconut can now be found in a huge varieties of different foods and drinks, from curries to panna cottas, pina coladas to coconut creams. There is no doubt that coconut adds a special something to food and drink alike, this is also the case for beer.
Coconut tends to accompany darker, sweeter beer styles, such as stouts and porters, much better than lighter styles. One of my favourite beers of all-time utilises coconut very well, as the name suggests, Death By Coconut from Oskar Blues packs a real coconut punch, but I’ll get onto that in more detail later.
If you want to use coconut in your homebrews, you’ll be able to find it in most grocery stores, or in any good worldfood store. It usually comes in two varieties – chips or desiccated. Both have their pros and cons. Chips are generally easier to handle and can be used during fermentation, whacking them in your fermenter is an excellent way to provide that beautiful coconut aroma to your brew, however they’re usually more expensive & have a lower surface area to volume ratio compared to the desiccated variety. The desiccated form gives your brew more of a coconut taste and aroma, although due to the particle size they can cause filtration issues and have been known to turn into a mush in the kettle, causing all kinds of problems due to the release of certain oils.
Alternatively, coconut extracts can be used; these are very potent and should be used very carefully, as you don’t want to overpower all the other flavours and ingredients in your brew. Coconut extracts are often the most expensive option and should be added towards the end of the brewing process.
One of my favourite things to brew is a robust coconut porter, for this I use coconut chips, which I toast prior to use. The simple act of toasting them for 10-15 minutes is surprisingly effective; when added during fermentation they provide a richer, fuller coconut flavour compared to untoasted chips.
In case you’re not convinced about using coconut to enhance your porters and stouts, below are my top three coconut beers. I would recommend that you give them a try, if these don’t persuade you then nothing will!
- Death By Coconut by Oskar Blues
I mentioned this one earlier simply because it’s just that good. This 6.5% Irish porter is brewed using dark chocolate and extra dark caramel malts, along with coconut, and pure liquid cacao. To me this beer tastes like drinking a bounty, it won a 2014 Great American Beer Festival award in the Chocolate Beer category and only comes out once a year. If you can find a can of this, I really couldn’t recommend it enough.
- Last Snow Porter by Funky Buddha Brewing
Funky Buddha Brewing’s mantra is to focus on “culinary-style beers”, their brews are nearly always brewed with various fruits, vegetables or herbs, and this is no different. A rich, creamy porter brewed using coconut and coffee. At 6.4% this drinks like a 3.5% beer or lower, making it rather dangerous, the layers of coconut coffee make it great for a winter drink. Liquid joy.
- Coconut Ale by Big Rod
I didn’t want to only include dark beers on this list, and while I do think that generally, coconut compliments darker beer styles better, Coconut Ale by Big Rod is certainly an exception to that rule. At 5.4% it pours with a deep red hue and instantly the coconut aroma hits you, I guess it’s to be expected with a name like Coconut Ale, but the coconut is exceptionally strong, something which I loved, but for those who just want a hint, this is probably not for you. Its deep toasted coconut notes are balanced by slight tartness it also possesses.