Naughty and Nice Porters

The genesis of Naughty and Nice comes from our homebrewing days, back in December of 2012. During that time, we had brewed 12 different beers and gave them to our friends and family as Christmas gifts, and the project was affectionately known as the 12 Beers Of Christmas. One of the beers we had been brewing on an annual basis since 2009, which was a stout that we infused with vanilla beans and bourbon soaked oak chips. To add some intrigue, we then took the base recipe of that beer, brewed it again, only this time adding cherries and chocolate to it. Both were well received, we stashed those recipes away in the “save” folder.

Since we’re not bottling, it would be extremely difficult to do 12 Beer of Christmas now (but in due time…), but I wanted to bring back the spirit of that December by brewing some of those recipes. I had also been kicking around this idea of brewing two holiday beers and naming them Naughty and Nice. On top of that, I wanted to do a winter porter series where I’d brew the same base recipe and add different things to it each time. I ultimately decided that I would tweak the vanilla oak and cherries chocolate stouts by making them porters. I also had to tweak the vanilla recipe since as a commercial brewery, we’re not allowed to soak things in spirits as it would violate our liquor license, so I removed the bourbon from the recipe. Both beers have a calculated 41 IBU and a calculated 31 SRM, although the Naughty has a little bit more of a slight red highlight, due to the cherry puree addition.

The base recipe calls for American 2 row, two types of crystal, Munich, Chocolate and Black patent malts. We hop with a combination of Horizon and EKG before fermenting with a classic English yeast. Pretty simple. Then we wait for fermentation to finish before the real fun begins.

For Naughty, we use a little more than a pound per gallon of cherry puree, with a mix of about ⅔ tart and ⅓ sweet. We also added organic cocoa nibs sourced from Ecuador from Tcho Chocolate out of California at a rate of about 600 grams per barrel. Since fermentation had finished at that point, the sugar in the cherries don’t get eaten up at the same rate as if we added it at high krausen, which is our procedure for all the other fruit beers we make. The yeast did wake up a bit when we added the cherries and I noticed some slight bubbling, and after taking some gravity readings, I found the cherries added about 0.3% alcohol to the final product. Compared to last year, we added about 15% more cherries and about 30% more chocolate. You can really taste and smell the chocolate right away, which has a strong nutty quality. The cherry comes more on the back end, and becomes much more apparent as the beer warms. The two play together extremely well, like eating a chocolate covered cherry (hmmm, maybe we should make this for Valentine’s Day). The Naughty clocks in at 6.3% abv.

Nice uses about 2 grams of Madagascar vanilla beans per gallon. We sourced our beans from Savory Spice in Denver, which is where we get the majority of our spices. We also added medium toast American white oak spirals. Since oak contains the organic compound vanillin, it already has some vanilla character to it, and the beans amplify it. We added about 20% more oak from last year, but kept the vanilla dosage the same. Hazelnut, caramel, coconut and especially molasses flavors compliment the vanilla sweetness. The porter base provides some good dark cocoa in the background as well. Nice finished up at 6% abv.

We are also offering a special blend of the Naughty and Nice. Sometimes when you blend, you take away from each beer what made them special in the first place, but I think our blend highlights both beers. Our blend is about ⅔ Naughty and ⅓ Nice. The reason for this is that vanilla can be such an overpowering spice that if you use too much, all it does it water down both the base beers. With ⅔ Naughty, it still allows for the cherry and chocolate flavors to shine while adding a light vanilla kick at the end. We are currently offering a special Naughty/Nice flight, in which you get a taster of Naughty, a taster of Nice and a taster of the blend. You can order the blend by the pint as well.

Our favorite holiday porters have returned, and they’re better than ever! Last year when we released Naughty and Nice, they were my most ambitious projects yet. I felt like a homebrewer again (in a good way)  by adding in a bunch of ingredients into two different porters. This year, I had a plan on how to change last year’s recipes and make the beers stand out more. I’m very happy with how both beers finished up and am very pleased with the blend. Whether you are on Santa’s naughty or nice list this year, we’ve got some special release porters with you name on it. Come on down and get your Naughty/Nice on!

~Dave