I first made this beer for a friend’s wedding. The inspiration came from a marrying not only of two people, but of two cultures. I really wanted to create a beer that celebrated the coming together of an Italian, and a Cuban… Hence the name: “The Cutalian”. The brainstorming process was a more difficult than I expected. Pork and spaghetti beer did not sound good, in fact, tomato sauce was out all together. So I started looking toward desserts. Tiramisu is an Italian classic, and it already has alcohol in it! – These flavors would be awesome in a beer! Now…. what could I incorporate from the Cuban world. I’m no Cuban expert, but from what I could tell, these people only eat rice, beans, and pork. There do not seem to be many traditional Cuban desserts, and fewer still that would pair with Tiramisu. Finally when looking through Cuban recipes it hit me…. PLANTAINS! The only real issue with plantains is that they are low on fermentable sugars, and for that matter flavor. So I decided to go with bananas. Bananas have plenty of sugar for the yeast to eat and lots of flavor.
Now I tasked myself with figuring out how I would get the Tiramisu flavor in the beer. The primary flavors in Tiramisu come from coffee, rum, chocolate, and mascarpone. How the heck am I going to get all that flavor in the beer!? I started researching each ingredient. Coffee and chocolate seemed simple enough. The consensus among home brewers is to make an extract or infusion of sorts. I just added more rum than was recommended and – viola! – I ended up with the following infusion recipe:
- 16oz Golden Rum – I used Mt. Gay
- 4 oz of organic cocoa nibs
- 2.5 oz whole bean coffee – I used Starbucks Breakfast Blend
This sat on the counter for about a week to pull all of the yummy flavors from the coffee and cocoa nibs then I strained the solids.
Now everything is falling into place, but what about the mascarpone? I can’t just add cheese to my beer. This would likely ruin my whole batch of beer. I started to think about it…how do people add dairy to beer? I actually already had the answer as I have made several milk stouts in the past. Lactose sugar! Lactose sugar is really cool to add to beer for several reasons. It is a complex sugar so the yeast can not eat it… This results in a beer with a little thicker mouth feel that is a touch sweeter than a usual beer. Perfect to simulate the role mascarpone plays in Tiramisu.
Well all of the decisions were made…except for one…what style of beer is worthy of carrying all of these beautiful flavors? I made this decision fairly quickly. My first though was a stout. Stouts naturally have chocolate and coffee flavors added from the roasted grains, however, I was afraid the Stout would actually overpower the other flavors I’m adding. What i need is a watered down Stout.. a BROWN ALE!
Now for the recipe! – This may or may not be interesting to you if you are not a home brewer:
12 lb 2-row malt
1 lb crystal malt 40l
.5 lb brown malt
.5 lb chocolate malt
1 lb lactose sugar
- 1 oz Kent Golding Hops at 60 minutes
- 1 oz Fuggle Hops at 20 minutes
- BRY97 yeast – I made a 1000 ml starter.
I mashed at 154 degrees for 60 minutes and sparged. I cooled the wort (unfermented beer) pitched the yeast at about 69 degrees and threw it in the closet for 2 weeks.
The Fun Part!
It’s time to add the bananas! There is actually not a lot of information out there on how to add bananas to beer. Fruit in general can be a challenge to add to beer because fruit typically harbors some amount of bacteria and wild yeast. – Both things you do NOT want in your fermenter. So I came up with my own method. It worked very well on my first batch. I take the bananas and puree them in a food processor. I make sure to sanitize the food processor, it’s lid, and blade fully before I puree. As an extra precaution I actually add some of the rum infusion into the puree to help things along and to kill bacteria and wild yeast if there is any.
When the puree is complete it will look like this:
Once the banana puree is complete and the secondary fermenter is sanitized it is time to pour the puree in the fermenter and transfer my brown ale on top of the banana puree.
Once the brown fully transferred I topped the carboy off with an airlock and put it back in my fermentation closet.
Now the yeast will wake back up, revitalized with the exciting new food, and create more alcohol to add to the beer. I wait about 3 more days to add the rum infusion so that the yeast can do their job. A few more weeks and it will be ready to keg and drink!