I have always treasured campfire S’mores on my countless camping excursions with the Boy Scouts. Being older now I also enjoy the taste of beer. In honor of my favorite summertime dessert I decided to combine both of them into one by brewing a S’mores Amber Ale – which, yes, I’ve named to pay homage to one of my favorite movies as a kid, The Sandlot.
A couple thoughts on this brew: I decided to go with an Amber style because it would be mellow enough to allow the flavors of the S’mores ingredients to come through. I also selected the Tettnanger hops, at only 3.9% alpha acids, so the bitterness won’t override the more subtle flavors. I am adding a few specialty ingredients into this brew such as cocoa nibs and powder to enhance the chocolaty flavors inherent in the chocolate malt; a box of crushed graham crackers; and marshmallow extract, which I will add just before bottling.
Ingredients: (for 2.5 gallons)
3 lbs. Plain Amber DME
½ lb. Crystal Malt
¼ lb. Chocolate Malt
½ oz. Tettnanger Hops (bittering) 3.9% aa
¼ oz. Tettnanger Hops (flavor)
¼ oz. Tettnanger Hops (aroma)
4 oz. Cocoa Nibs, crushed
4 oz. Cocoa Powder
1 box Graham Crackers
American Ale Yeast
Steep the crystal and chocolate malts at 150 degrees F in a half gallon of water for half an hour, then strain the malts and sparge, bringing the total volume up to one gallon. Add half of the Amber DME and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, add in the first set of hops and begin timing for 60 minutes. When 15 minutes are left, add the flavor hops as well as the graham crackers. After another ten minutes, when 5 minutes remain, add in the remaining Amber DME, the rest of the hops, and 2 oz. each of the cocoa nibs and cocoa powder. After the remaining 5 minutes are up, turn off the heat and cool the concentrated wort.
Add about a gallon and a half of cold water to your fermenter and then add the wort to the fermenter, stirring well to aerate. When the wort has reached about 70 degrees F, pitch the yeast and allow to ferment for a week to ten days. After the initial fermentation, rack the beer to a secondary fermenter, leaving behind the probably large amount of dregs in the initial fermenter. At this time, add the remaining cocoa nibs and cocoa powder and allow a secondary fermentation of about a week or so. When the beer is ready, prime, bottle, and wait another 7-10 days before drinking (the hardest part, I know).
The end of the month will have a tasting of this brew, just as we do for all of our home brewing sessions.