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This beer was an experiment of sorts and we tried a lot of new things while doing it. We won't say it was a failed experiment, it was definitely a learning experience, but the recipe could use some tweaking. Use this article as a reference to brew your own banana nut beer and feel how you feel it could be better. After all, it's just homebrewing, aren't we all doing it for fun?
Our brew day video is below, but keep scrolling for full recipe details and step by step instructions.
Full Banana Bread Beer Recipe and Brew Day Video
We started out with 7.8 gallons of Asheville City Water and added some calcium chloride, gypsum, baking soda and Epsom salt to get our water chemistry right. This will be different for everyone depending on the water you're using.
We used 10 pounds of pale malt, 4 ounces of biscuit malt, 1 pound of crystal malt, and 4 ounces of chocolate malt.
We crushed our grains and then mashed in at 85 degrees Fahrenheit. We started at such a low temp in order to do a decoction mash which involves boiling part of the bash to incrementally increase the temperature. More on this below. Although, it was admittedly a lazy man's decoction mash. We were doing this in order to get some more malt complexity and to try and give our finished beer a baked goods flavor.
To do a decoction mash, we pulled out about 2 gallons of water and grains and put it on a hot plate. We let this boil for about ten minutes and then poured it back into our full mash still sitting at 85 degrees.
To finish our mash, we dialed in 158 degrees on the brewing temperature controller and mashed for 60 minutes.
Boil Additions (Hops, Etc.)
Once we finished our mash and pulled out our grains, we increased the temperature and started a 60 minute boil.
At the beginning of our 60 minute boil, we added 2 ounces of Hallertau hops.
With 20 minutes left in our boil we added 24 ounces of brown sugar.
With 10 minutes left in our boil we added .5 an ounce of Hallertau hops.
Walnuts and Bananas
As our boil was coming to an end we crushed up some walnuts and put them on a hot plate. We heated our walnuts up until we could smell some aroma coming off of them. Then, we dumped them into our wort at the very end of our boil, right before we started chilling.
Putting nuts into beer is generally not advised but Tommy, our in-house professional chef, told us not to worry. His thought was that the minimal amount of nuts we were adding would likely add more desirable flavors than undesirable ones. It was a gamble. Keep reading or watch the video to find out how it tasted.
After our wort was chilled and transferred into a fermentation vessel, we crushed up about ten super ripe bananas and put them into our wort.
Yeast and Fermentation
Yeast: We added 2 packs of White Labs WLP300 and did not aerate the beer. We didn't aerate because the internet told us that not doing so is the most reliable way to boost banana esters.
Fermentation: We fermented at room temp, 70 degrees Fahrenheit, for 14 days.
With the additional sugar from the bananas, the beer finished with an ABV of around 7.5%. Without a strong malt or hop character, the alcohol was quite noticeable. Out of necessity, we aged it in stainless for about 6 months before doing our final tasting. The reason for such a long wait? It initially tasted horrible and definitely improved as it sat.
It's final flavor tasted kind of like a boozy brown ale. We were split on whether the walnut flavor came through, but the banana flavor was definitely not there. The other defining characteristic was barely tolerable alcohol.
The beer wasn't infected though, and it didn't have any off flavors. Everything really came down to the ingredients we used.
So let us know, what would you change? How bad are we at home brewing? Kidding. Don't answer that last question.