Adding Coconut to Honey Brown Ale

So last Saturday I brewed my first batch of the NB Honey Brown Ale. I’m a big fan of Big Sky’s Moose Drool so Im excited to try out this recipe with the honey twist. I’m considering adding coconut flavoring to part of the batch and wondering what the best method would be to go about it.

I’ve read past articles on here about adding coconut, with mixed opinions ranging from adding coconut extract at bottling (I have added extracts to previous fruit beers with success) or adding coconut flakes at secondary. If I add at secondary, should I use fresh coconut flakes or should I toast them to remove some of the oil which I’ve read can affect the head on the beer.

Has anyone worked with coconut recently that could point me one way or another? The extract seems hard to find & I’ll be paying over $10 just for the flavor after shipping costs, so could I get a good flavor out of the coconut flakes?

Thanks! :cheers:

I haven’t used coconut (yet) in any recipes but I do recall seeing it mentioned in Recipe threads (possibly in HBT). I would probably lightly toast them myself. If you wish to go the extract route, you may have luck finding it in a Mexican/Hispanic market.

In doing research on different forums, seems my best bet is to lightly toast a couple bags of coconut flakes to add to secondary. I will be trying that here in a week or so, I will post an update on the progress.

Based on my experience:
Use 14+ oz of unsweetened, dried coconut and be sure to toast lightly. If you toast too much, the coconut flavor will be very muted. Yes, adding to secondary is the way to go. I’ve also used untoasted coconut with success.

It goes very well with wheat beer.

I’ve always heard that it’s best to toast the coconut then “dry hop” with it in secondary. But, for what it’s worth, I’m fairly sure Great Burn in Missoula just dumps the raw coconut flakes in without toasting for their coconut brown.

The coconut oils are going to wreck your head retention (if that is at all important to you) if you add the flakes/shreds directly to the beer.

You may want to consider making a tincture, which is essentially making your own extract by using vodka as a solvent to wash the aromatic compounds off the fruit. Toast the flakes up, cover in vodka (use something decent as this will be going in your beer), shake when you walk by it for 2 weeks, then strain and add to the beer at packaging to taste.

Not as glamorous as saying “I actually used coconut in this beer!”, but you could still say that doing it this way and not REALLY be lying.

I’ve had their coconut brown, it is pretty good, especially since Im not a huge fan of the brewery itself. I heard the Mighty Mo in Great Falls is doing the similar method for their brown ale, so that seems to be a common method.

Thanks to everyone for the advice. :cheers:

[quote=“Pietro”]The coconut oils are going to wreck your head retention (if that is at all important to you) if you add the flakes/shreds directly to the beer.
Maybe I got lucky, but I didn’t have this problem. In fact my beer was praised for head retention.

[quote=“kcbeersnob”][quote=“Pietro”]The coconut oils are going to wreck your head retention (if that is at all important to you) if you add the flakes/shreds directly to the beer.
Maybe I got lucky, but I didn’t have this problem. In fact my beer was praised for head retention.[/quote]
The beer I’ve had the beast head retention with was an IIPA, which has a lot of hop oils. Maybe the oils helped??? I’ve not experimented enough to know for sure, could be a coincidence.

Actually thats a good point, I believe the toasting will change the properties of the oils and/or make them less soluble. I still vote for tincture though :mrgreen:

To the other question on hop oils, I believe they are less viscous than coconut oil.

So funny I found this post today. On 4/20 I made NB’s nut brown extract kit and added coconut. At flame out I added 14 oz. of toasted coconut flakes and moved it to primary. After primary I tasted it and didn’t have enough coconut flavor so I toasted another 14 oz. and added them (in a grain bag) to secondary. Within 48 hours the flavor was so strong I was worried I made a 5 gallon error! I pulled the coconut and stirred the beer and moved it to a keg with some gelatin for clarification. I tasted it for the 1st time yesterday and it was delicious! Toasted coconut on the nose, nutty brown sweetness and a smooth coconut flavor. The head is gorgeous white foam with tiny bubbles that hold up all pint!

Thanks for all the solid advice. Last question I now have, how much coconut should I use? I want to make sure the coconut flavor really comes through, so Im not sure if 14 oz will be enough. I picked up 28 oz worth of fresh coconut flakes that I plan on toasting and racking into secondary.

Anyone have an opinion on how many ounces should do the trick on a standard 5 gallon batch?

Start out smaller than you think you will need. Once it’s in there, it can’t come out. If you need more after the first round of additions, taste it and add more to your liking. Remember, flat beer will taste a little different once it’s carbed.

This is the fun part about brewing! I would suggest around 20 oz. of toasted in secondary. After 24 hours, stir and taste. In my recent experience if it is STRONG in secondary it will mellow out in the keg. If it is mellow in secondary, it will be hard to taste in the keg.

I don’t think you can go wrong with more coconut by weight, the key is going to be smell and taste leading to length of time you keep it in secondary.

Let us know how it turns out!

I agree that you will probably need more than 14 oz, but I also agree that you should start smaller, taste and add more if needed. You can always add more, but not so easy to undo if you overdo it.

Update on this brew: I popped open my first bottle last night and the beer turned out great. Ended up doing 14 oz of lightly toasted coconut flakes in secondary for 2 full weeks. Head retention was good, not great, but there was still something there so not really worried about it. The Honey Brown turned out great, with a nice aroma of coconut and a light taste at the end. If I had to do it over, I would probably use slightly more coconut to get more of a flavor. Still very happy with it though, thanks to everyone for the advice.