First post for a while, and it's a big one. We've always been close to the local branch of CAMRA (lovely bunch of people), and were delighted when the organisers of their beer festival asked if we'd like to submit a beer (or two). As dark beers are a love of ours, and there might not be many others at a summer festival, we offered our vanilla porter (SPG), and did some thinking about what the second one might be. After a drunken conversation with some chums, we settled on a chocolate chilli stout. It's a path that has been trodden in the past by others, but not to a great extent. Alex did research, and came up with a recipe that seemed to make sense!
The grain bill is scaled from our base stout recipe, to come out at 6%. We wanted something a bit special for the fest, with some real oomph. Dried cayenne chillis were added to the boil and the fermenter. There was a bit of estimation here, but the final beer actually was exactly at the heat level we were looking for! Cocoa nibs were soaked in scotch whiskey for a few days before brewing- nibs into the fermenter, 'sauce' into the boil.
With some trepidation, we tried the beer as we were putting it into the casks & keg. To our delight, it was just as we had hoped! The chillis bring a lovely warmth to the mouth, without blowing your doors off. The malt character is enhanced by the cocoa nibs to give a dark chocolate flavour, without sweetness. The whiskey comes as an aftertaste that leaves a little tingle.
We were shocked and delighted when we were told that this beer had been voted Beer of the Festival by those attending! We even got ourselves into the local paper...