Monday, March 16, 2009

Vanilla Toffee Cream Ale - First Tasting

Appearance - Dark Brown, Substantial head that stays at least a finger thick for the whole pint, nice lacing

Aroma - Vanilla, caramel, toffee

Taste - Malty, sweet but not cloying, nice vanilla caramel finish, little heavy with the lactose, bit of hops in the finish

Mouthfeel - Medium-full body, medium carbonation

Drinkability - Very good beer, almost desert-like, easy to drink, while its sweet it doesnt become cloying, alcohol level is just about right

Notes/Thoughts - I went a bit heavy with the lactose in this beer, and while the body is perfect the lactose flavor is a bit strong to me (others dont notice it as much); Next time I plan on thining the body a bit and upping the carbonation, adding a bit more vanilla (2Tbsp maybe), and boiling down a bit more of first runnings/or extract to get more toffee/caramel flavors, overall a good beer and I plan on making it again

Brewday 1/24/09 - Recipe & Notes

17 comments:

SCWells72 said...

Very interesting. I'm creating a recipe for a chocolate toffee ale right now that's using similar techniques, though I was going to target a 6 gallon batch and boil down the first gallon of runnings to caramelize it heavily into something toffee-like, but I actually like your idea of boiling LME given how concentrated that already is.

I'm planning to use unsweetened chocolate (to avoid lipids from cocoa butter) at flameout and lactose to add some sweetness to the otherwise unsweetened chocolate.

Thanks for sharing!

Ryan said...

Id be very interested in hearing how your brew turns out, please keep me updated!

Careful with the lactose though, in my opinion its more of a body/mouthfeel/flavor booster than sweetness - I suggest you mix some in water to get a feel for what I mean

Also, I would suggest going light on it at first, as I think at the level I used it in this beer it was a bit distracting from the other flavors

SCWells72 said...

I'm probably going to brew one morning this weekend, so I'll let you know how it goes...and ultimately how it comes out!

I was thinking 0.5# of lactose, but based on what you've said, perhaps even that's too much?

Ryan said...

Dont be afraid to boil the crap out of the LME, get it nice and dark, but do remember to add some water from time to time, as you would if you were making caramelize sugar

As far as the lactose, 0.25# might be a better place to start, you can always adjust later

Ive also ran across chocolate extract in the baking aisle - something to think about if its not chocolately enough

good luck!

SCWells72 said...

I'm thinking that rather than boil down LME, I'm just going to boil a gallon of first runnings down to 0.125 gallons or so and add it back to the boil. Austin Homebrew Supply actually has unsweetened Belgian chocolate powder that sounds incredibly tasty to me. I'll chew on how much lactose to add, but yeah, I'd strongly prefer that I undershoot rather than overshoot on that!

As you can tell, I haven't brewed it yet. I'd forgotten that I was co-brewing a saison and a porter over the weekend, and I'm going to NHC in Oakland this weekend. Perhaps next week one afternoon after work I'll brew this beer, though.

SCWells72 said...

I did brew my chocolate toffee ale on Friday. We'll see how it comes out, but the brewing process went pretty smoothly. The base was a Southern English brown ale, and I pulled the first gallon of runnings and boiled that down vigorously with 0.5# of amber LME while collecting the rest of the wort, then added that back to the kettle for the main boil. I ended up going with 6oz of lactose as a compromise between 1/4lb and 1/2lb. I boiled for 90 mins and added 2oz of unsweetened Belgian cocoa powder (from the LHBS) with 15 mins left in the boil.

The pre-boil OG without the reduction and without the lactose was 1.040, and with those is was 1.056 (taken using a refractometer), and the pre-fermentation OG was a whopping 1.073! The wort didn't taste "big", though...actually it tasted quite nice! I have it locked in at 68 degrees, so we'll see how it ends up. I'll let you know!

Ryan said...

Sounds Really good!

Did you taste the LME you boiled down? Did it get nice and toffee-like?

SCWells72 said...

I did taste it, yeah. I'm not sure I'd say it got "toffee-like", but it was definitely sweet and delicious. Toffee has more of a butter-like flavor whereas this was more sweet. We'll see how it comes through in the final product, and I'm not at all disappointed in what I tasted, but I'm not sure it tasted that much like toffee.

Still bubbling in the chest freezer. I imagine I'll let it sit for another two weeks before either bottling or kegging. I'm interested to see where the FG ends up since the OG was 1.073 and there are unfermentable sugars such as lactose in there.

More to come for sure!

Ryan said...

Yah, as far as toffee goes in my beer it was fairly subtle, more caramel like than anything, next time I think I'll add a bit of special roast, as that malt really reminds me of toffee at amounts around a pound

Ryan said...

Yah, as far as toffee goes in my beer it was fairly subtle, more caramel like than anything, next time I think I'll add a bit of special roast, as that malt really reminds me of toffee at amounts around a pound

SCWells72 said...

Having my first tasting of the chocolate toffee ale right now. Came out REALLY well, I think!

Both the chocolate and toffee are a little more muted than expected, but they're both there. As you noted, the toffee is less buttery and more like rich caramel, but it's really tasty. I do think I hit the right balance of lactose for the cocoa powder, though.

FG was 1.024 so ABV is ~6.4%. Even though it finished high it's still relatively dry on the palette.

Overall I'm really happy with it. When I re-brew it, I think I might add one more ounce of cocoa powder and perhaps another 0.5# of LME for the reduction just to dial those components up a bit. Interesting idea on using special roast to bring out toffee flavors as well...

Cheers!

SCWells72 said...

Hey, Ryan. Thought I'd let you know that my chocolate toffee ale took a bronze medal in Specialty last night at the Alamo City Cerveza Fest on its virgin voyage! Forgot to pick up score sheets, but I'll be interested to read the judges' impressions. I'm really happy with how this beer came out! Thanks again for all the guidance!

Ryan said...

Hey congrats, sounds like it turned out pretty well

Its always a good feeling to get a good score at a comp

So what do you think of the beer? did it turn out more like a desert beer?

Dave said...

Hiya, my name is Dave and I'm new to this...but love beer. A group of friends is having a home brew day that my brother in law is hosting. I've always gone and hung out but never brewed. I think I am going to give it a whirl this time and name it after our newly born daughter Sophie. Was thinking of trying to make a Vanilla Toffee Porter. I have purchased some high end vanilla beans already as I've read some opinions are in favor of beans over extact. My question is what do i use to get that toffee/caramel flavor. Any suggestions recommendations are welcome.....cheers!

Ryan said...

I suggest boiling down a portion of LME like I suggest in the recipe, although I would suggest doubling or tripling the amount of LME

Good luck with your 1st brew!

GuitarLord5000 said...

I know this is an old, old topic, but has anyone considered fat washing some butter and adding that to the toffee mixture while cooking it down? Or shortly after it's been cooked down? That should give some buttery flavor to the caramel to make it taste more toffee like.

Ryan said...

Guitar - I hadnt necessarily thought about doing it for that effect, I have used fat washed butter though and it works well. I think its best if you brown the butter first

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