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Brewing Topics => Recipes => Topic started by: cmbrougham on November 24, 2013, 08:11:53 AM

Title: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: cmbrougham on November 24, 2013, 08:11:53 AM
I'm getting a bunch of chestnuts for free, so I got the idea to try them in a beer. I'm thinking something dark and rich, probably a brown ale our a porter.

I've been Googling like crazy and not found much good empirical evidence on how to employ them in a brew; I've found suggestions from the mash to the boil, but nothing concrete on amounts or processes.

Anyone tried them before? I'll probably do a 2.5 gallon test batch before committing to anything crazy. Thanks!
Title: Re: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: cmbrougham on November 24, 2013, 09:08:49 PM
My research indicates that chestnuts are actually a favored malt alternative for gluten-free brewing; apparently, it's one of the closest "bases" that celiacs and others who just want beer sans-gluten have found to be similar to barley malt. Unfortunately, the great preponderance of gluten-free recipes based on chestnuts stands at odds to the dearth of recipes that use chestnuts more like an adjunct. Most threads and such I found said that because the flavor characteristics were so similar, that it was almost pointless to use chestnuts in a barley-based beer. Well, I'm not satisfied with that, and since I'm getting about 50 pounds of them for free (!!!) I have room to experiment.

The threads about GF beers using chestnuts call for long mashes with ground up chestnuts (they are very carbohydrate rich and relatively lipid poor compared to most other tree nuts), but they use added enzymes since there is no malt to make the conversion happen. Obviously, that won't be an issue with pale malt as the base. With all the starches, I'm going to boil the nuts in shell (standard practice) to gelatinize the starches. But, I'm shooting for a darker beer (porter), so I want to bring some caramelization to the party. That means roasting them... on an open fire or elsewhere.

Since I'm going to do this as a 2.5 gallon BIAB test batch, I had the brilliant (my own perception) idea of boiling the chestnuts in the strike water for 15 minutes. That way, I have a nice sweet chestnut wort to begin with (I think the potential gravity of chestnuts is fairly low, seeing evidence of 1016-1020 PPG referenced). When the chestnuts are done boiling, I'll set the mash water aside and put the chestnuts in the oven at about 400dF for 20-25 minutes (still in shell, at this point). This is pretty much how chestnuts are roasted for general consumption. When that step is complete, I'll shell the chestnuts, throw them in the food processor to coarsely chop them (I may reserve the roasted shells to see if there is any additional nutty flavor that comes from them), and then mix them with the malt in the reserved mash water. By this point, I'm guessing that the strike water will have come down to pretty close the perfect temp for a full bodied mash. From there, I'll do the mini-BIAB mash, sparge, and boil.

Here's my recipe:

Recipe: Chestnut Porter
Style: Brown Porter

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 3.71 gal
Post Boil Volume: 2.96 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 2.60 gal   
Bottling Volume: 2.50 gal
Estimated OG: 1.052 SG
Estimated Color: 27.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 22.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 83.3 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
4 lbs                 Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           Grain         1        74.4 %       
3.0 oz                Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM)          Grain         2        3.5 %         
3.0 oz                Carafa II (412.0 SRM)                    Grain         3        3.5 %         
1 lbs                 Chestnuts (20.0 SRM)                     Sugar         4        18.6 %       
0.75 oz               Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] - Boil 45.0 Hop           5        22.8 IBUs     
0.50 Items            Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)        Fining        6        -             
0.25 oz               Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] - Aroma Ste Hop           7        0.0 IBUs     
1.0 pkg               SafAle English Ale (DCL/Fermentis #S-04) Yeast         8        -             

Mash Schedule: BIAB, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5 lbs 6.0 oz
Name              Description                             Step Temperat Step Time     
Mash In           Add 5.47 qt of water at 170.7 F         156.0 F       45 min       
Mash Out          Add 9.14 qt of water at 176.3 F         168.0 F       15 min       

Sparge: Fly sparge with 0.59 gal water at 168.0 F

(Forget the part about fly sparging; I can't get BS dialed in to fly sparge with 0 gallons, and the BIAB profiles or batch sparge steps calculate out the way I want to do my BIABs. That amount just goes into the mash out water.)

I'm skipping caramel/crystal malts and other body builders as I'm mashing high, and the chestnuts are very sweet already, so I'd like this character to come through. I might try to get something like Carapils before I brew this, though. Just a small amount of dark malts to add a touch of roast (and this is where I thought I might add some of the ground up roasted shells too), with some scant hopping--nothing to challenge the chestnut flavor too much.

Any thoughts? No matter what, I'll document this well, as there isn't a lot of other information out there that I have found.
Title: Re: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: Scott Ickes on November 24, 2013, 11:19:28 PM
It's a very interesting and challenging experiment.  I'm not sure how it will turn out, but good luck with your venture.
Title: Re: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: cmbrougham on November 28, 2013, 08:25:17 AM
This one will be going into the fermenter today!

Recipe: Roasted Chestnut Porter
Style: Brown Porter
Type: All Grain

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 3.71 gal
Post Boil Volume: 2.96 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 2.60 gal   
Bottling Volume: 2.50 gal
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 24.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 25.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 82.2 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
1 lbs 8.0 oz          Chestnuts (20.0 SRM)                     Adjunct       1        27.3 %       
3 lbs 4.0 oz          Pale Malt, Maris Otter (Thomas Fawcett)  Grain         2        59.1 %       
4.0 oz                Carabrown (55.0 SRM)                     Grain         3        4.5 %         
4.0 oz                Carafa II (412.0 SRM)                    Grain         4        4.5 %         
4.0 oz                Crystal Malt (Muntons) (56.0 SRM)        Grain         5        4.5 %         
1.00 oz               Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] - Boil 30.0 Hop           6        25.6 IBUs     
0.50 Items            Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)        Fining        7        -             
1.0 pkg               SafAle English Ale (DCL/Fermentis #S-04) Yeast         8        -             

Mash Schedule: Mini-BIAB, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5 lbs 8.0 oz
Name              Description                             Step Temperat Step Time     
Mash In           Add 6.88 qt of water at 165.4 F         152.0 F       60 min       

Sparge: Batch sparge with 1 steps (2.66gal) of 168.0 F water

This is modified a fair bit from the previously posted recipe, and I think it will work out even better. The mash will be done soon, and the wort tastes awesome! There's definitely good chestnut character in there, and I just hope it survives fermentation.

I actually started with 2 pounds of raw chestnuts (which shells on), which I boiled in my strike water for 20 minutes. The mash water had a nutty, almost black tea flavor, and a nice faint brown color. I put the chestnuts in the oven for 20 minutes at 400dF, and dried them out a bit, plus caramelized the sugars. Once done, they were peeled (which yielded just shy of 1.5 lbs, note for the future) and pulverized in the food processor. I added the chestnut "meal" to the mash grains into the strike water, which had conveniently come down to strike temps at just the right time. It's mashing in the oven right now, and the sparge water is heating--we're in business!

I'm photo-documenting the process, which I'll post later.
Title: Roasted Chestnut Porter
Post by: cmbrougham on November 29, 2013, 08:11:10 AM
Brew day post-mortem:

Brew session went well. I ended up with an OG of 1.046, but my volume into the fermenter was about 2.8 gallons, vs. the 2.6 gallons the recipe was designed for. I don't think the chestnuts absorbed as much water as the barley (in fact, they probably gave up some water, even after being roasted), and my boil off was a bit less than expected since this was an inside brew on the stove. Adjusting for the additional volume based on my target OG, I get 1.047, so I think I got pretty decent extraction and my PPPG estimates for the chestnuts were fairly close. I'll adjust downward 1 point for the next brew, and I'll grind the chestnuts a little finer.

The wort sample post-boil had a nice smooth roast flavor up front, and once that fades, the chestnuts come through nicely with a warm, almost buttery richness. If that survives fermentation this will be a very tasty brew.

I put together a photo album of the brew day here: Roasted Chestnut Porter 11.28.13 (

I'll update once the beer is ready, just for sake of completeness. Let me know if you have any questions!
Title: Re: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: cmbrougham on January 13, 2014, 12:10:57 PM
Not that anyone has been waiting breathlessly for an update on this, but for the sake of posterity and future brewers who may be looking to brew with chestnuts, I thought I'd complete the tale.

The beer has been, by all accounts, a total success. People who aren't regular beer drinkers--such as my parents, who appreciate a good beer but don't necessarily pick a beer as their first choice of beverage--like it. People who aren't beer drinkers at all--such as my neighbors, through whom I received the chestnuts--raved about it. Guys in my homebrew club couldn't find much to complain about--hey, when you're dealing with fellow beer geeks, that's a compliment in itself! And, I submitted this beer into a local homebrew competition and it earned me a berth in the finals. I've given away so many bottles now, I only have a couple for myself!

I did have some inconsistent carbonation with this brew; I bottled it using my normal technique but apparently something was wonky in the process. Some bottles overflow when opened (they're not infected, as they taste fine and are perfectly clear), whereas others are all but still. I used a new yeast--Safale S-04--and have since found it to be a fast performer that falls out of suspension very quickly. I gave this beer a secondary as there was a fair bit of "stuff" left over from the chestnuts that I wanted to settle out, but I'm guessing a lot of yeast came out of suspension, too. This yeast tends to clump, so I think I got some chunks into certain bottles and they went nuts, while others were virtually critter-free. Weird. I'll just keg it next time.

The source for the chestnuts came over with the neighbors yesterday and dropped off about 75 more pounds of them! Not sure what I'm going to do with all of them, but I'll come up with something. He raved about the beer, as well, after admitting that he was skeptical that it was going to be drinkable. I gave him a couple bottles to send to the owners of the orchard--they're looking for new avenues to use chestnuts with, as their orchards have exploded in the last couple years.

So, long story short, if you're looking to experiment and can get your hands on some chestnuts, by all means give them a shot.
Title: Re: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: Volcanized on January 07, 2015, 12:08:56 PM
New brewer here.
I'm curious if you have done some experiments with this recipe. Also, what your findings were. I think it's very interesting/cool that you boiled the whole chestnut THEN roasted them. Did you compare this to a brew without doing this step? I'm wondering if it may make the beer a bit astringent, dry, or rindy.

I enjoyed your follow ups.

Title: Re: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: cmbrougham on January 07, 2015, 03:46:09 PM
I'm glad to share the details.

I did do a second version of this beer a couple months later, with some minor recipe tweaks:

Recipe: Roasted Chestnut Porter v1.1
Style: Brown Porter
Type: All Grain

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 4.50 gal
Post Boil Volume: 3.90 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 3.50 gal   
Bottling Volume: 3.28 gal
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 25.3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 29.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 80.4 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Measured OG: 1.053 SG
Measured FG: 1.008 SG
Measured ABV: 5.9 %

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
2 lbs 8.0 oz          Chestnuts (20.0 SRM)                     Adjunct       1        31.7 %       
4 lbs                 Pale Malt, Maris Otter (Thomas Fawcett)  Grain         2        50.8 %       
8.0 oz                Carabrown (55.0 SRM)                     Grain         3        6.3 %         
6.0 oz                Caramel Munich 60L (Briess) (60.0 SRM)   Grain         4        4.8 %         
4.0 oz                Brown Malt (65.0 SRM)                    Grain         5        3.2 %         
4.0 oz                Carafa II (Weyermann) (415.0 SRM)        Grain         6        3.2 %         
0.75 oz               Challenger [7.60 %] - Boil 50.0 min      Hop           7        29.2 IBUs     
0.25 oz               Challenger [7.60 %] - Boil 0.0 min       Hop           8        0.0 IBUs     
1.0 pkg               London ESB Ale (Wyeast Labs #1968) [124. Yeast         9        -             

Mash Schedule: BIAB, Medium Body, Dunk Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 7 lbs 14.0 oz
Name                       Description                             Step Temperat Step Time     
Mash In                    Add 8.51 qt of water at 170.9 F         152.0 F       60 min       
Mash Out and Sparge        Add 11.80 qt of water at 181.5 F        168.0 F       15 min       

The second batch turned out even tastier than the first; I used the same basic procedure with the chestnuts as I did on the first. I have a few bottles of this left and I'm still milking it :)

I also did a test using 50:50 chestnuts to pale malt. Basically, I was trying to measure the actual extraction from the chestnuts, since I knew (roughly) what the pale malt would give up, and everything beyond that had to be the chestnuts. This was all a precursor to brewing this semi-commercially.

Last April, I did a one barrel batch of the above recipe (or very similar to it; only had Briess malts to choose from) at a small local brewery. The beer turned out great and was pretty popular--it sold out in no time. I'm now an assistant brewer there and will eventually be the pub brewer, as we're expanding to add a bigger production facility. I don't know that we'll ever step up to a 15-barrel batch of it, but I intend to do it again at the pub :)

Let me know if you need any other information--thanks again for asking!
Title: Re: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: KernelCrush on January 07, 2015, 05:58:05 PM
Wow CM!  Congrats on your new position.   Livin the dream.  Didn't you do something with grilled asparagus too?
Title: Re: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: Oddball on January 08, 2015, 07:30:44 AM
Wow, this is a good idea. I got some chestnuts over Christmas and this has inspired me to work on a chestnut stout. Thanks for doing all this research!
Title: Re: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: cmbrougham on January 09, 2015, 10:39:20 AM

Yes, that was me :) Asparyeson, the grilled asparagus rye saison with lemon and black pepper. It actually turned out very well; I admit to being a bit sad when the keg blew. For people who are inclined to like asparagus, they liked it a lot, and for those who are inclined to despise asparagus... well, let's just say they despised it a lot ;D I guess that means I was pretty spot on with the flavor contribution. I'd love to do this at the brewery, but I'm not sure I have that much leverage yet!

Thanks for the congrats. 2014 was certainly an interesting year. I definitely did not start out the year thinking that this would happen; I've only been with the brewery for 6 months as of last week. It started out as part time pubtending, then pretty quickly evolved into full time pubtending, and then splitting my time between that and brewing (and marketing... and building stuff for the brewery... and a lot of other little things that are necessary in a tiny business with a small crew).

As mentioned, the brewery is expanding its operations, which has opened up a new opportunity and career for me--and it couldn't have happened at a better time. My own business was flagging and had become unsustainable over the course of the last 18 months, so it became clear that it was time for a change. Being able to do what I love to do as a hobby as a new career, work with and meet some amazing people, and be on the ground floor of a new business that is growing--by all accounts--meteorically, is a truly incredible privilege. I make no suppositions about what brewing is on the professional scale, but the opportunity to share my creations with people on a larger scale and connect with them in this fashion is worth the many hours of cleaning ;)


Chestnuts should be good in a stout. Whether you boil and roast them, or just roast them from raw, I'd suggest pushing the roast a bit beyond what you would normally if you were going to simply eat the chestnuts. Roast them in the shell, then grind the shell up with the meats and add to the mash. This should help build some nice roasty, toasty, woody, smoky and caramel flavors that would appropriate in a stout. Go fairly easy on the dark roasted malts; they'll pretty quickly mask the flavors of the chestnuts. Good luck and let us know how it goes!
Title: Re: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: KernelCrush on January 09, 2015, 03:48:39 PM
Glad you done good CM, now if you can get that grapefruit mead on tap you got it made.  Its a babe magnet.
Title: Re: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: Oddball on March 10, 2015, 09:02:15 AM
I almost forgot to update you guys on how the chestnut stout went...

I ended up roasting the chestnuts without boiling them first. After they came out i thought I may have ruined them, some of them were pretty black but I decided to try the brew with them anyways. I shelled them and put the shells in 1 bag and the chestnuts in another (I tried putting the chestnuts in a food processor to make them smaller but all that did was put a ton of chestnut dust in the air). It was 2.5 lbs of chestnuts with the shell on. I steeped the chestnuts for 30 min at 155 F for a 5 gallon batch. The chestnut flavour ended up coming through quite well, with no burnt flavour that I was worried about.

Hopefully this can help some other people that are thinking of using chestnuts. I know I will be making this recipe again next Christmas! Now I just need to find a place where I can get chestnuts for Free/Cheap...
Title: Re: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: zheath on October 19, 2015, 08:36:52 PM
Did you use dry, hard chestnuts or were they still fresh and relatively soft?
Title: Re: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: ipabrewer on February 19, 2018, 06:55:23 PM
grilled asparagus rye saison

I can't find that recipe, but I'd sure love to know what you did and what you can remember about the flavor profile! That sounds so crazy that I just have to try it!!

Also, thanks so much for this thread! We're getting ready to try our first Chestnut beer @Wages Brewing Company on our biggest and only 1 BBL system. ;) Wish I had read your posts before we processed the chestnuts. I didn't realize the shells could contribute to the flavor in a positive way. We roasted, shelled, and froze our nuts. We will likely follow your ratio on nut usage in our recipe, but I can tell ours won't be as roasty as yours. S'ok. There's always next year! :D

We do our Mississipecan Brown and Pistachio Wedding Ale, and look forward to adding a third nut ale to the mix. In the end, I hope to have 4 or 5 nut beers on tap rotating through the year.
Title: Re: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: dacanba on April 12, 2019, 06:53:53 AM
I have read your recipe again but there are things that I do not understand, for example:
Finally, did you use the peeled chestnuts?
Did you peel them completely or did you just remove the first shell?
What time do you mix the chestnut with the malt?
How big is the ground chestnut?
Thank you
Title: Re: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: dtapke on April 12, 2019, 10:44:17 AM
I wouldn't expect a rapid response (or any) from him. clicking on his profile it appears he was last active 14 months ago. Perhaps try sending a private message which should generate an email.

Alternatively, do some experimentation on your own! I personally learn the best from experimenting with things on my own anyways.
Title: Re: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: dacanba on April 21, 2019, 09:23:25 AM
I have 100 chestnut trees and I would like to make chestnut beer. What a pity that he is not here to tell us the end of his experience.
Title: Re: Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>
Post by: dacanba on April 21, 2019, 09:28:59 AM
If someone is interested in chestnut beer I leave a recipe

6 US Gallons = 5 Imperial Gallons = 22.7 Liters

94.2% = 6.8 lb = 3.1 kg, Maris Otter Pale Malt
4.6% = .33 lb = 150 g, Roasted Barley
1.2% = .09 lb = 40 g, Torrified Wheat
+ optionally: finely milled toasted chestnuts in mash

Bittering/flavor: .75 oz = 21 g, Fuggles, 90 minutes
Aroma: 1 oz = 28 g, Goldings, 5 minutes, steep until chilled

MASH @ 156?F/69?C 60 minutes or until converted.

BOIL 90 minutes.

STATS assume 75% mash efficiency and 70% yeast attenuation:
OG ≈ 1.034
FG: 1.010
ABV ≈ 3.2%
IBU ≈ 17
SRM ≈ 17? SRM/33? EBC

If you got 'em:
Couple pinches of calcium carbonate in mash. Pinch of gypsum in boil to make your hops pop. Irish moss near end of boil for clarity.

YEAST: Danstar Windsor British Style Beer Yeast

PRIME bottles/keg with 1/3 cup brown sugar, boiled with some water.