Chaiamese Twins – An Alcoholic Yin-Yang Diptyc

One of my friends, who I have spent many an alcohol-feuled late nights with, has a penchant for just coming up with goofy beer names – Hellahopter, Smooth Hoperator (which was already a beer, he just didn’t know), and this beer. Well, he had envisioned it as a single beer, like a chocolate rye porter or some shit.

I, on the other hand, had a slightly different idea from the name. With my flair for the dramatic, I thought that if you’re going to call something a twin, it better have two goddamn parts. Thus, the idea for Chaiamese Twins was born – two beers that were perfectly autonomous, but when combined together were an altogether different monster. Initially, I had planned on actually blending the two beers together for bottling, because real Siamese twins can’t be separated (that’s a little dark), but the concept of making something that could also be served as a black and tan intrigued me. Plus, then you could taste both of the beers separately as well as conjoined (#sorrynotsorry about these jokes).

Thus, the Chaiamese Twins were born: one half was an Imperial Chocolate Chai Porter and the other was an Imperial Belgian Wit. The intention being chai-forward beers, where the spices married in well to the original beers, but I also did really want a gnarly, chai chocolate orange B&T. I also wasn’t going to pussyfoot around on this. I wanted big beers too (this was a bit earlier into my brewing career – it was go big or fuck off). So, imperial versions of traditional beers it was.

Twin 1 – Imperial Chocolate Chai Porter

Them Digits

Batch Size: 5 Gallons

Mash Temp: 154F for 60 min.

Boil Time: 60 min.

Batch Efficiency: 70%

Original Gravity: 1.080 // 19.3 P

Final Gravity: 1.018 // 4.6 P

ABV: 8.1%

IBUs: 60

SRM: 98 EBC // 50 SRM

Recipe

Malts

  • 11# Pale 2-row | 68%
  • 2.75# Munich Light 17%
  • 1# Carafe Special II | 6%
  • 1# Chocolate | 6%
  • .5# Black Patent | 3%

Hops

  • 1 oz. Nugget @ 60 min.
  • 1 oz. East Kent Golding @ 25 min.
  • 2 oz. Tettnang @ 10 min.

Yeast

  • Wyeast 1945 (NB NeoBritannia)

Spices ‘n Such

  • 4 oz. Cacao Nibs (soaked in vodka, added during primary/secondary)

 

Twin 2 – Imperial Chai Belgian Wit

Them Digits

Batch Size: 5 Gallons

Mash Temp: 152F for 75 min. (to help with the torrified wheat conversion)

Boil Time: 60 min.

Batch Efficiency: 70%

Original Gravity: 1.070 // 17.1 P

Final Gravity: 1.009 // 2.3 P

ABV: 8.0%

IBUs: 42

SRM: 10.7 EBC // 5.5 SRM

Recipe

Malts

  • 5# White Wheat | 34%
  • 5# Unmalted (Torrified) Wheat | 34%
  • 4# Pilsner Malt | 27%
  • .5 Oats | 3%
  • .25# Munich Light | 2%

Hops

  • 2 oz. Santiam @ 60 min.
  • 1 oz. Hallertau Hersbrucker @ 5 min.

Yeast

  • Wyeast 3463 (Forbidden Fruit)

Spices ‘n Such

  • 3/4 oz. Dried Orange Peel @ 5 min.
  • 3/4 oz. cracked Corriander seeds @ 5 min.

Notes

Looking at the recipe, it’s easy to notice the distinct lack of poignant white girl flavors. That’s because most of the time, I don’t trust putting spices into the kettle. It’s the easiest way for something to get overwhelming and completely ruin a beer, let alone that I didn’t want to deal with juggling 5-6 different spices between two very different beers, since the additions would not be the same. So, I took the easiest and most efficient way around this – I made extract.

By extract, I mean that I soaked corriander seeds, cardomom pods, dried ginger root, all spice berries, peppercorns, and cinnamon sticks in 100 proof vodka for two weeks.

At bottling, I carefully measured out my tincture with a 1 oz. shot glass and added it to the bottling bucket. Being lighter, the Wit took about 2.5 oz. before I thought the flavor was prominant yet not bulldozing the stylistic qualities of the beer itself. The porter, on the other hand, took a whole 5 oz. to reach a level that managed to stand up to the robust dark tones and super chocolate flavor of the beer.

By themselves, both beers were good. I’m admittedly not gung-ho about Belgian styles in general (outside of French saisons, lambics, and less acetic Oud Bruins), but I thought it was good enough. The porter though… that beer was a fucking monster. Smooth, dark, chewy, chocolately, and then the spice came through and you got a dessert-y beer that went down a little too smoothly for 8%.

But, like said, the goal was not to just brew two good beers, it was to brew two beers that worked together. Spoiler note: yes.

Anyone who’s actually spent time behind a bar will tell you that, while not incredibly difficult, a black & tan where you don’t just mix shit together, but actually layer the two beers, is a little bit tricky. One of my friends managed to successfully do this with the beers. Otherwise, there was a whole lot of “fuck it” and just pouring them together. I had tried to have the porter bottle condition to a slightly lower CO2 level and have the Wit be higher (which is appropriate to both styles), but the Guinness on nitro really does make layering a black & tan streets ahead easier.

At the end of the day, the experiment was an overwhelming success – two functional beers that became more than just the sum of its parts. To paraphrase an entirely different friend than from the beginning – “If you blindfolded me and put this beer in front of me, I don’t think I could tell you what it was”. Dark. Light. Together, they made an alcoholic Terry’s Chocolate Orange flavored Voltron that somehow worked.

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