Pistachio Ale Ideas

Hello! I am on extract batch 4 which has been in primary for
a week - what a blast! I tried my luck at making a custom pilsner wheat recipe
for batch 3 – success! Specialty grains included some Caramel 10 and Carapils.
Hops included Hallertau for bittering and Saaz for finishing. Yum - Mom won’t go back to LB ever again!

So now my bro has challenged me to come up with a “nut
brew” that has a pronounced nut flavor (nut brown doesn’t cut it for him). I’ve decided on a Pistachio brew. I think I
am comfortable with how to extract the flavor from the nuts as there are a few
articles on line. But I want to crush and steep as opposed to keeping the nuts whole.
Any advice on this step?

I’m trying to first decide on a good extract base.I’ve seen a few recipes to get me started but most are using
a pale ale base. When I think of pistachio, I immediately think of a malty,
caramel, full backbone – as opposed to a dry, pale, light backbone. Even though
we are BIG pale/IPA fans, I just can’t see the pistachio flavor coming through
as well with an IPA base? I was leaning towards a “chewier” Amber Malt Extract
Syrup (used for Brown Ales and Ambers) as opposed to the “Drier” Gold Malt
Extract Syrup (used for pale ales and IPAs). – thoughts?

Of course I think oats would add a silky smooth complexity
for the Pistachio. And I might add some Carapils for head retention. I am
guessing this is all I would need, agree?

Lastly, being a total newbie, I am thinking that “earthy”
hops might be better than “citrusy” hops. And I envision the hops to not add a
lot of bitterness – pretty low on the IBU, but enough that isn’t like a Cream
Ale. A quick search reveals that Sovereign, Target, Hallertau and Tradition
might fit the bill?

I will stick with US-05 yeast. I hope I am not creating
something that is not drinkable – maybe I should stick to one of the Pale Ale
recipes? But I would appreciate any advice. Thanks!

Where you thinking something along the lines of a (British) Newcastle Brown Ale, but with pistachio flavor? If so, consider buying a six-pack of the above (or a similar British Brown Ale [BJCP 2015 13B]), creating a tincture, and adding the tincture in the glass (at varying strengths) to try out the flavor. This isn’t a perfect approach - but it does provide some reasonable feedback quickly.

If you like the results, you should be able to find a ‘clone’ recipe to brew. Consider splitting the (five gallon?) batch into smaller batches - use different amounts of pistachios in ‘secondary’ with a couple of the smaller batches. Sample the beer in secondary periodically to see how it is progressing. Before you bottle, taste the different smaller batches - perhaps add some of the tincture or blending some of the smaller batches together before bottling.

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I agree that I would avoid a hop forward beer. That doesn’t mean you can’t use a pale beer base. But I agree that I would shoot for an amber ale. I would only add a bittering charge, no late additions. Any neutral hop (like magnum) would work. You could use us-05 or maybe try wyeast 1450 or 1469.

How do you plan to get the flavor from the pistachios? One thing you’ll need the b wary of is oil from the nut ruining the heading properties.

A few years back I took the NB Nut Brown AG kit and added 1 lb of crushed filberts to the mash. I can’t honestly say that any of the filbert/hazelnut character came through in the final beer, but… man that mash tasted great. I kept going back to scoop out some of the crushed nuts.
There was no adverse effect to the head/foam character, by the way.

Wow - some great feedback already - I appreciate that. Here is a link to the method I planned on using to extract the nut flavor. Smallbatchbrewer, I will look into the tincture method though for sure.

Yes, I would put the pistachio flavoring in the secondary for sure. I have yet to use a secondary, but plan on doing so this weekend for the first time (Dead Ringer!).

Thanks for the yeast and hop suggestions - Would you do 1oz @ 60 & 1oz @45 or just a single addition? Anyhow, I have a lot to research now! So if it were you, would you stick to the recipe in the link above or try your luck at piecing a recipe together based on the ideas we came up with?

My thought would be single addition. (I generally add bittering hops at start of boil, flavor hops around @15 or @20, and aroma hops @5/@0).

If I was brewing this for my family, I’d brew the recipe in the link. If I was brewing for me, it would depend on my mood - over the course of six months I move from brewing classic styles to trying things that interest me to brewing classic styles to brewing … to brewing … to brewing …

If you have room for some additional ideas, consider this link and chapter 5 of the book “Experimental Homebrewing”.

That was going to be my suggestion on how to extract the flavor of the nuts and to remove the fat/oils.

I’m not sure about this adventure… Seems as though you are trying something that must have been done and not enough to continue…. I take the hempen ale of a few years ago… very dry and un -eventful. Sneezles61

Commercial examples do exist and at least one is currently getting reasonable reviews at Untappd.

And sometimes one needs to accept a challenge (like brewing for a brother), or mix it up by suggesting crowd sourcing a recipe, or just go exploring a great hobby.

Thanks guys for all of the feedback. Yes, great hobby indeed - and at some point I will gain the confidence (and knowledge) to “go all out” and fully explore. I WILL try a pistachio ale at some point soon. Probably use the link I posted as a base and then try to come up with some additional/different specialty grains to enhance the pistachio character. Will keep you posted.