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I'm hoping to get some confirmation on what is probably a stupid question.

I'm getting ready to rack a chocolate coffee milk stout and am going to be using nibs for the first time. I understand soaking them in vodka for ~2 weeks is ideal for a lot of reasons so that is the route I've gone.

My question is- do you add in all of the soaked nibs + vodka? Or do you drain the vodka and only add in the soaked nibs?

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You want to add either all of it, or just the vodka. A lot of the chocolate flavor will get leached into the alcohol so you don't want to toss that. I'd say add it all if you're going into secondary, since you'd rack it again, or just the vodka if adding it at bottling time.

A benefit of this technique is that it lets you remove any fats from the chocolate that might otherwise be detrimental to the beer's foam quality. This is done by freezing the vodka/nib mixture (or, strain it first) for 12-24 hours, after which you can skim the fat (which freezes) off the alcohol (which doesn't).

  • I like the fat freezing trick. Although I can't say I've had too much issue with nibs and foam stability in the past. – brewchez Feb 13 '15 at 12:13
  • Yeah, I've never done it with chocolate specifically, and in fact have heard of lots of people having great success with just adding the nibs right into the beer. However I have tried it with other really fatty stuff (yup, bacon). – Franklin P Combs Feb 13 '15 at 12:53
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I would taste what you have extracted first to see if you like it. Making a tincture (in a solvent like ethanol/vodka) doesn't always result in the same flavor profile as if you had simply racked onto the raw nibs.

Another option is to pull a sample of the beer then dose drop wise some of your tincture into it until the flavor is right. If you find a good magical combo there is no reason to secondary on the tincture, just at the right proportion to the whole batch at bottling/packing.

If you don't like the tincture taste don't add it. Perhaps get new nibs and age some beer in a one gallon growler on nibs to see if that works.

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