Kegged: Shivering Schwarz Cordial

A couple days ago I finally kegged the Shivery Schwarz Cordial.

Before I started I pulled a sample to get the final gravity.

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With a final gravity of 1.020 it still had plenty of sweetness left.

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If you remember we started out at a 1.064. Finishing at a 1.020 gives an ABV of 5.8%. However that is probably a bit higher because of…

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The additional sugar that was fermented from the nearly 10 pounds of cherries are sure to bump the ABV a bit.

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They look kinda gross in there, but I can assure you the smell and flavor was really good.

I’ve said this many times, but one of the best things about the conical is how easy it is to keg your beer. Attach a hose, open a valve, and let it go.

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After chilling and carbonating I finally got to taste what this beer had really become. While it seems a little thin to me the flavors are exactly where I wanted them. It’s a sweet beer, but you can tell there is a little kick behind it. The cherries gave a little sweetness, but also some tart flavors as well. Finally, the coco nibs gave it hints of deep, dark chocolate.

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My goal was to create something similar to Atwater’s Decadent Dark Chocolate, but with cherries added. I think I hit this mark pretty close and with a little tinkering on the next batch can do even better. I think a little aging is going to do even more for it.

With this on tap and finally putting the Debbie Does Amarillo on tap I only have one keg in the kegerator that doesn’t have a home right now. However with the Flirty Flamingo and another batch of cider fermenting that’s going to become a problem again very quickly.

Preparing The Coconuts

With the Flirty Flamingo a few days into fermentation I decided it was time to start preparing the coconuts.

While we were down in Florida last month I brought home quite a few fresh coconuts. After a little experimentation I figured that using the brown ripe ones would be the best plan. Over the course of a few nights they were all shucked and that’s a lot of work…

I think the problem was doing that so far in advance. The coconuts have been shucked for a couple weeks and I had noticed that some began to leak and others began to crack. After I began to drain and crack them open it quickly became clear that all of the coconuts that weren’t fully intact with liquid inside had gone bad. Sadly this was roughly half of the coconuts I had brought back. I though about giving up on this beer and going a different direction.

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When I finished I still ended up with quite a bit, but not nearly what I was hoping for.

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Despite the loss I ended up with 5.5 pounds of usable coconut meat.

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After doing some research on how people use coconut in beer I found that I needed to toast the shreds, but I had no shreds, just large pieces. The first method I tried was using the grater, but it was slow and I almost grated my thumb a couple times. I considered the Vitamix, but everything I read online about using a Vitamix with coconut ended in the creation coconut milk. That’s when I pulled out the old, trusty Ninja.

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The Ninja worked surprisingly well for the task. The only drawback was not being able to load more than a couple pieces in at a time.

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It took a little time, but I was left with two large bowls of coconut chips.

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After that I spread the coconut out on cookie sheets and pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees. Many sources said that it would take between 5-10 minutes to toast the coconut. I believe that these people were using dried coconut and therefore had a much shorter time. With my fresh coconut I ended up doing three cycles of 10 minutes, stirring after each timer went off.

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As you can see it got toasted quite well. The smell and flavor were amazing. I really can’t wait to add this in to the beer later this week.

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I ended up with just over 3 pounds of toasted coconut to add to the Flirty Flamingo. I think that the flavor will be good but, as typical with real coconut flavor, it will be slight. I may soak it in Vodka a little bit to help free up some more flavor and further sanitize before adding it.

In a couple days I’ll check back in with some ideas on how to add it and not make a HUGE mess.

Flirty Flamingo Part 3

Like I said, the last bit of the brew day is a flurry of activity. From the last hop addition to flame out and chilling it seems like it’s constant work.

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Staging everything really helps. Having more room than on the cramped front porch helps even more.

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After about four hours we are finally at the finish line. The chilled wort is filling up the conical and ready for yeast.

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Today’s brew was very uneventful and that’s unusual.  However, I think it is impossible to escape brew day without some sort of issue. Today’s issue showed up right at the end of the day when nothing much could be done about it.

After chilling and taking my reading for the original gravity I came in right around 1.044. That’s low by about 5 points. It wouldn’t be bad if this were going to be a higher octane beer. But this was only supposed to be around 5% to begin with. If it ferments out the same as the previous version I’m looking at around 4.5%. Not horrible, but also not what I was shooting for either.

I’ll have to analyze the day a bit but I think my low boil off rate is probably the culprit. Boil off rate is something I seem to continually struggle with.

It’s not the end of the world. I was planning on making a few “lawn mower” beers anyway.

Now it’s time to relax, have some home brew, and finish enjoying this beautiful day.