Read several posts about chocolate stouts and it seems that using nibs as a secondary flavoring without adding to the boil is the consensus. Roasting them first has been suggested, as well as soaking them in vodka. My question is how long should I roast them and at what temperature? What I have are cracked nibs from a chocolatier here in Seattle, do they need to be soaked in vodka? Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    Great question. No idea of the answer, but great question.
    – TinCoyote
    Mar 21 '11 at 20:17
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    Did you get them from Theo's? Because that's where I got mine for my chocolate stout :)
    – Jeff L
    Mar 23 '11 at 0:55
  • Wow, yes they are from Theo's :-). Small world. Thinking of getting more if my tart cherry chocolate cider works.
    – drj
    Mar 23 '11 at 6:38

For most spices and nuts, you roast them just until they become aromatic. When I roast almonds I do them in the oven at 350F for 5-10 minutes, and then let them cool. Remember that dry things like that will maintain their heat for a good long while, and they will continue cooking (carry-over) for a few minutes after you remove them from the heat. There's also a short window between roasted and burned.

You can also do them in a dry skillet, as mentioned in this question: What technique best infuses spices into a dish?

  • I roast nuts myself, so the followup to your answer is, do I use a different roasting technique specifically when brewing/cold extraction cider making as opposed to what I use when cooking cuisine?
    – drj
    Mar 22 '11 at 3:58
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    BTW - when I made my habanero cider, I roasted the peppers on the grill before adding them to the carboy. This really released the spice.
    – drj
    Mar 22 '11 at 4:29
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    I would think that the roasting process would be the same. I will admit that I know very little about the process of roasting chocolate in particular. I assume that you are not looking for the level of roast that you would want in something like coffee, though. If I'm wrong, and you are, you might want to look into doing it with an air-based popcorn popper or something similar.
    – baka
    Mar 22 '11 at 15:42
  • Great suggestion for using the air popper. But I'm just interested in roasting to release some of the flavenoids after storing them in the freezer to maintain volatiles. Got them direct from the chocolatier's roaster some time ago and the suggestion was to freeze them until you use them Again, thanks baka
    – drj
    Mar 23 '11 at 6:42

I did a coffee imperial stout that I use nibs in secondary. I did not roast them but I don't know how much the ones you have will differ from mine. These are the ones that I used. http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-24981/Scharffen-Berger-Cacao-Nibs

The flavor after about 3 weeks in bottles was more of a bitter, unsweetened, dark, 100% cocoa flavor more than a cheap Hershey's bar. (Personally it worked well but maybe the wrong chocolate flavor for a cider.)

As far as vodka: I tried soaking mine for a few days to try and extract more flavor but the whole mix just ended up smelling like bad vodka I wouldn't want in my beer. I ended up just using enough to cover the nibs long enough to disinfect, then drained the vodka off.

  • Since I primarily do ciders, seems that stouts are normally bitter. Did it seem that there was additional bittering at the level that the normal sweetness of cider wouldn't take the edge off of (know that it is subjective, but I trust your expertise)? Is disinfecting the nibs that much of a worry? I Campden my mixes to kill wild yeasts before pitching and wonder if that would substitute for the vodka (I have 198 proof Everclear to disinfect them if you think that it really is necessary)?
    – drj
    Mar 22 '11 at 4:05
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    No, the bittering wasn't on any sort of the same level as say, a hops bittering. It was simply a bitter chocolate flavor instead of a milk chocolate flavor. As far as the vodka, as long as you are doing something to ensure the nibs are sanitary then go for it. Vodka was simply my easiest solution.
    – Bullet86
    Mar 22 '11 at 18:35
  • Thanks, Bullet86. I'm learning and adapting from beer brewers like yourself to craft my ciders. Cheers!
    – drj
    Mar 23 '11 at 6:44

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