This is a question that has been gnawing at me the past 24 hours or so. The other day 10 Barrel Brewing here in Bend posted on Facebook that one of their “Big Handle Beers” coming up was a “Peanut Butter and Jelly Beer… and yes it tastes just like the sandwich.” Now, I’m usually very doubtful of those types of claims—I mean, this is beer, after all, and while such a thing is not entirely outside the realm of possibility, peanut butter and jelly is a pretty unique and unusual flavor. I was intrigued, but doubtful.
Yesterday, 10 Barrel posted that the beer was on tap at their pub and going fast. And yes, the comments on Facebook confirm the flavor: “PB & J with a little kick”; “Amazing how much it does taste like PB & J”; “interesting and had a grapey taste”. The rest of my day at work was spent imagining a beer that actually tastes like peanut butter and jelly, and how it could possibly be brewed.
Spoiler alert: I hurried down there after I got off work at 5 and just missed it—the tap was blown a bit before 5. My disappointment was palpable, and unless 10 Barrel decides there’s enough demand to re-brew this beer, it was most likely a one-off that won’t appear again.
Which brings us back to the titular question of this post. Most likely the only way I’ll taste a “peanut butter and jelly beer” is to brew one myself. But how?
The only clue from 10 Barrel about it is a small bit on Facebook:
We just brewed a beer with ingredients that taste similar to a pb&J sandwich. This beer started as a joke in the brewery, turned into a bet and then they took it to another level and brewed it.
Not very helpful, except in thinking of ingredients that taste similar to PB&J sandwich. At its base, these would be bread, peanuts, and fruit—the type of fruit you would typically find in a jelly: I’m thinking either berries or grapes. Along those lines my first thought would be something like a toasty, nutty ale with peanuts or peanut butter added somehow, and then fruit added to the secondary. Maybe a “nut brown” base using peanuts as the “nut”?
Take our popular Peanut Oatmeal Stout and blend it with our famous flagship fruit infused rye ale, The Soft Parade, and viola! The result, a liquid version of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
A blend, which works, but might not be so practical for the homebrewer. But there are some interesting clues/ideas here:
- Oatmeal stout, which would stand up well to the peanuts, providing a creamy smooth mouthfeel; and fruits can work really well with a stout. (They use a “peanut purée” in this beer).
- Rye, which would provide a nice, bready spiciness and (I would imagine) pair extremely well with the nutty essence of peanuts;
- Multiple fruits: “pureed strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries”
Good ideas, and additional searching found this thread on Northern Brewer Homebrew Forums, from which I gleaned a few other ideas:
- Organic peanut butter, separating out the oils;
- Peanut powder (not sure where one would find such a thing);
- Putting strawberry Jell-O into the secondary to help clear the beer (gelatin used as finings) and give it a strawberry flavor.
The Jell-O idea intrigues me the most, though I think I’d prefer to use actual fruit. My own leanings toward a particular fruit is blackberry, though it would be an interesting experiment to brew a five-gallon batch and split it into several secondaries, with a different fruit for each.
Finally, given the above notes and thinking about how to put together a Peanut Butter and Jelly Beer over the last day or so, here is what I’m thinking for the homebrewer:
- Start with a base “peanut butter beer” that might consist of one of three recipes:
- Oatmeal stout, with the oatmeal lending that creamy, smooth mouthfeel to the beer and complementing the peanuts well;
- “Peanut Butter Porter”: dark enough to stand up to the peanuts, but with a nice roast that might pair well;
- Nutty, toasty, rye base: Kind of a “nut brown” base with toasy malts (biscuit) and rye grains. Some wheat might go well here too to add a bready character and aid head retention.
- For peanuts (or peanut butter), I’m intrigued by the idea of peanut powder; barring that, I’d probably try organic/natural peanut butter with as much of the oil removed as possible. (The oil separates in this type of peanut butter, making it easier.) Add it to the boil to extract flavor and help break out some of the proteins.
- Bear in mind, the oiliness will affect head retention.
- Use real fruit, adding it to the secondary—puréed might be best for this purpose, I’m not sure.
- You’ll need a lot of fruit (especially if brewing a dark beer) to infuse that “jelly” character into the beer—several pounds per gallon is what I’d recommend. Myself, I’d try blackberries first.
That’s my thinking, and (probably) my next project.
Now I’m hungry—I think I’ll go make a PB & J sandwich…
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