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I want to make a beer with some hazelnut flavor to it. Maybe add some cocoa nibs or powder to the wort and make a Nutella-ish beer. My question itself is specific to hazelnuts, but maybe you could enlighten me on how to brew with all types of edible nuts?

My questions/concerns are:

  1. How do I prepare the hazelnuts for the beer? Would I roast them in the oven first? I'll need to de-shell them first, correct?
  2. Will the fat content cause the beer to spoil? That what makes Nutella so delicious of course, but fat in beer sounds terrible. Is there anyway to avoid that?
  3. When would I add them to the beer? Mash? Boil? Secondary? Depends?

There are probably other things that I'll need to consider. But if anyone could help me out from experience, it'd be much appreciated.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 16 down vote accepted

I think the safest way to add hazelnut flavor to beer would be to use hazelnut extract. If you don't want to use pre-bought extract/syrup, you can make your own by chopping up the nuts, covering them with vodka (or another neutral spirit), leave it for a few days, strain off the vodka and add it to the fermenter after a couple of days of fermenting. If the vodka contains fat after the nuts are removed, skim it off with a (sterilized!) spoon.

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3  
I agree with the extract route. Rogue makes an award winning hazelnut brown ale using extract. –  Denny Conn Nov 18 '10 at 16:21
    
How much vodka and how many nuts? I tried this method and it did not work out for me. The extract had hazelnut flavor but, I guess not enough as you could not taste it in the final beer. I skinned 1/2 cup of hazelnuts (is this necessary) and chopped them up and mixed them with 4 oz of 100 proof vodka. I let it all sit for a month and then strained out the vodka and added that to the 5 gallon second fermentation. Was this not enough nuts or enough vodka? –  anton2g Jun 18 '13 at 14:00
    
Isn't fat soluble in alcohol? –  Andrew Wyld Jul 23 at 11:51

You want to be careful adding nuts as they are very fatty. Introduction of lipids in beer can cause a lot of problems. Using powders and/or extracts is recommended. You can introduce nuts during the boil however, but you'll need to skim the contents that float to the top during the process. Still I would avoid using actual nuts.

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+1 for pointing out problems due to fat –  DHayes Nov 18 '10 at 20:25

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