Breakfast IPA? Breakfast IPA!
Here in Central Oregon, we’re lucky to have access to a delightful bargain supermarket chain called Grocery Outlet—colloquially known in Bend as “Gross Out.” That’s because it’s known to stock oddball, one-off variants of popular brands. Banana-infused ketchup. Ghost pepper and pumpkin risotto. You know, weird shit.
It’s the kind of store you can’t head to with a shopping list, because you never know for sure what they’ll have. But occasionally you strike gold with some product that was unfairly dismissed by the vox populi.
Case in point: limited-edition Toasted Coconut Cheerios cereal. When my fiancee brought a box home, I saw it and I knew I wanted to eat it. I ate it, and I knew I wanted to brew beer with it.
I’d long had plans to brew a hazy IPA (possibly a double) with toasted coconut, but once I tasted this cereal, I put that off for a wild shot at a “breakfast IPA.” Here’s what happened.
What’s in it
- Method: BIAB, squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze
- Batch size: 4 gallons
- Mash: 75 minutes @ 152F
- Boil: 60 minutes
- Ferm temp: 64F
- OG: 1.076
- FG: 1.013
- ABV: 8.2%
- IBU: 55
- 8 lbs. Pilsner (Gambrinus)
- 1 lbs. Flaked Oats
- 1 lbs. Unmalted White Wheat
- 13 oz. Table Sugar (Boil)
- 1 box Toasted Coconut Cheerios (Mash)
- 1 box Toasted Coconut Cheerios (Whirlpool)
- 18g CTZ [17.1% AA] at 60 minutes (35 IBU)
- 40g Sabro [14.3% AA] at Whirlpool, 20 minutes @ 170F (9 IBU)
- 40g Mosaic [12% AA] at Whirlpool, 20 minutes @ 170F (8 IBU)
- 30g Cashmere [7% AA] at Whirlpool, 20 minutes @ 170F (3 IBU)
- 50g Sabro at Dry Hop, 3 days
- 50g Mosaic at Dry Hop, 3 days
- 50g Cashmere at Dry Hop, 3 days
- Water: 5.25 gal Bend tap + 1/4 Campden tablet, 4.7g Lactic Acid (88%), 1.25 tsp CaCl2, 0.75 tsp Gypsum
- Yeast: London Ale III (Wyeast 1318), 1L starter made from slurry
How’d it go?
Brew day was largely painless, though I did come in significantly under gravity—not a huge surprise when working with an untested ingredient like breakfast cereal and targeting a relatively high OG. Even after a 75-minute mash my pre-boil was 1.060, compared to the 1.065 that Beersmith predicted, and after the 60-minute boil it was a mere 1.066 to the predicted 1.077. To compensate, I added 13 ounces of table sugar dissolved in about a cup of water to the fermenter just after pitching my yeast starter. In theory, that brought the OG up to about 1.076.
A note on the cereal: I milled and mashed one box worth (10.9 ounces), then whirlpooled the other box whole. The idea here was to really re-infuse the wort with the toasted coconut essence post-boil, when ultra-high temps wouldn’t denature it. I think it worked pretty well!
I had also planned to dry-hop the beer with some actual toasted coconut flakes, but after tasting samples—even before dry-hopping—I decided it was plenty coconutty already and opted to skip it.
The dry hop was done in two hop spiders, due to the huge quantity of hops (around 10g/L). Even with the added room provided by two canisters, when I removed the spiders after transferring the beer to the keg, it turned out that many of the pellets were barely saturated. Next time I’d definitely use three spiders for this quantity of pellets to make sure I’m getting my money’s worth.
I fermented cool, around 64F, until the tail end of fermentation (around 1.020 SG) when I raised it to 68F for a d-rest.
How’s it taste?
This beer tastes nearly as I envisioned it when I first tasted the cereal. Coconut-forward, a little dank, and a little fruity. Smooth, creamy mouthfeel and a pleasantly buzz-inducing booziness. I would love to make it over and over, but I have no idea if I’ll ever be able to find the cereal again. That’s Gross Out life.
Appearance: Milky pale gold with a voluminous head that dissipates slowly, leaving generous lacing on the glass. The head never fully goes away, leaving a slight cap on the beer. It’s not the full-on murk bomb that you get with some NEIPAs, but more of a soft glow. Quite pale, compared to some examples of the style, but I think it’s prettier for it.
Aroma: Coconut milk, passionfruit, peach, and just a hint of booze. Not really much else to say here—the coconut just dominates, which is what I wanted!
Taste: Up front it’s all coconut, thanks to both the hops and the cereal, with slight wisps of woodiness from the Sabro. There’s a milky doughiness to it, kind of like Japanese shokupan bread, that I can only assume comes from the unmalted wheat. Behind that velvety surface there’s hard-edged bitterness and just a touch of weed, presumably from the CTZ. A bit of diesel, too—maybe the Mosaic? I assume it’s Cashmere that’s bringing the peach and passionfruit to the party, because that definitely carries over to the taste as well. There’s a lot going on here, but it somehow gels.
Mouthfeel: I know a lot of NEIPAs finish crazy high for pale beers, well into the 1.020s. This one finished at a reasonable 1.013 and thus feels a little less heavy, more sessionable, but still has plenty of residual sweetness. Not that I really recommend session-drinking an 8.3% NEIPA, but… you do you. Anyway, it’s smooth and silky on the palate but leaves a dryness that makes you want another sip. I like it. I like London III—it hasn’t failed me yet.
Would I brew it again?
Yes, though I don’t know if I’ll have the chance. What’s more likely is that I brew the same recipe, but replace the cereal with real toasted coconut flakes, and see how the end result differs. Could be a fun experiment!
Looks delicious! I’m curious: when you mash in a bag with huskless grains like this, do you need to worry about stuck sparges like you do with a conventional mash?
No, not at all. You just squeeze the bag at the end of the mash and pretty much everything comes out. I also don’t lauter, and I don’t worry about trub getting into the fermenter. It all settles out eventually. 🙂