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  • Writer's pictureLuke Nyswonger

Brewing with PB2: A Guide to Crafting Nutty Delights

Peanut butter and beer - when I first heard this combination years ago, I'll admit, I was a bit skeptical. But, as an adventurous homebrewer, I've never been one to shy away from unique flavors or ingredients. Over the years, I've explored several unique creations, my experimental batches ranging from subtly nutty brown ales to rich, robust peanut butter-infused stouts. Each brew, a new adventure, has led to delightful discoveries and unexpected combinations that make the homebrewing process so fulfilling.


One of my most recent and memorable endeavors was a Butterfinger-inspired stout. Yes, you read it right! This stout was a playful nod to the beloved candy bar, infused with a decadent layer of peanut butter flavor that beautifully complemented the chocolatey richness of the stout. It was a beer that was both familiar and surprising, nostalgic yet excitingly new.


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The star of these nutty creations for me has consistently been PB2, a powdered peanut butter product that has revolutionized the way I approach flavoring my homebrews. Its ability to impart an authentic peanut flavor without the mess or stability issues associated with regular peanut butter has made it an invaluable addition to my homebrewing toolkit.

In this post, I will take you through the ins and outs of PB2, including best practices I've honed over years of brewing with it. We'll also explore some other peanut butter-oriented alternatives, and I'll share my thoughts on the types of beer that are best suited to these flavors. Whether you're a seasoned brewer or a beginner looking to step outside the box, I hope this guide will inspire you to embark on your own peanut butter brewing journey.


What is PB2?

PB2 is a unique product that allows brewers to add the distinctive flavor of peanuts to their beers without the oiliness and potential stability issues associated with natural peanuts or peanut butter. PB2 is made by roasting peanuts and then pressing out a substantial portion of the natural oils. This process not only reduces the fat content but also eliminates the oily texture that could create stability issues in beer. Once the oils are removed, the peanuts are ground into a fine powder, which is PB2. Despite the removal of oils, PB2 retains a rich and authentic peanut flavor. It has the essence of roasted peanuts without the accompanying heaviness of natural oils. This allows it to blend seamlessly into various beer styles, adding a new layer of complexity to the taste.


PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter
PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter

PB2 is versatile and can be used at different stages of the brewing process. Whether you choose to add it during the boil, in the fermentation, or as a 'dry peanut' addition, it provides a consistent flavor profile. This flexibility provides room for creativity and experimentation, allowing brewers to fine-tune the peanut character in their beer.

Being lower in fat compared to regular peanut butter, PB2 presents a slightly healthier alternative. Though not usually a primary concern in brewing, it might appeal to those looking for ways to experiment with flavor without adding unnecessary fats. You can find PB2 at your local grocery store or on Amazon.


Best Practices for Using PB2 in Homebrewing

  1. Choose the Right Beer Style: Peanut flavor pairs well with darker, richer beers, complementing and enhancing their natural malty, chocolaty, or coffee-like flavors. Consider styles like stouts and porters for your PB2 brewing experiments.

  2. Quantity: Start small. For a 5-gallon batch, 8-16 ounces of PB2 is a good starting point. You can adjust this quantity in your future brews based on the flavor profile you want to achieve.

  3. Timing: Add the PB2 late in the boil, in the last 10-15 minutes. This helps sterilize the powder without losing too much flavor.

  4. Hydrate Before Adding: Mixing the PB2 with a small amount of boiled, cooled water to create a paste before adding it to your brew ensures a smooth integration. You can also pull wort from your boil to pre-mix it, which is what I often do.

  5. Secondary Fermentation: For an intensified peanut flavor, consider adding PB2 during secondary fermentation.

Alternative Peanut Butter Additives

While PB2 opens up creative avenues for peanut flavor in homebrewing, there are some challenges to consider. The powdered nature of PB2 may lead to inconsistencies in flavor, clumping, and the formation of excess trub—a sediment that can create a thick layer at the bottom of the fermenter, reducing beer yield, potentially imparting off-flavors, and complicating the transferring and filtering processes. Additionally, PB2 can clash with certain beer styles, and its cost, availability, and potential allergen concerns might give some brewers pause. Balancing these factors requires careful consideration and technique, ensuring that PB2 enhances rather than detracts from the brewing experience.


Apart from PB2, there are other products you can consider. Peanut butter extract, for instance, is an excellent choice for those seeking a more pronounced peanut butter flavor. It's often used in baking but is equally effective in brewing. Just ensure you're using a product that's free from any preservatives that might interfere with the fermentation process. A popular choice is Brewer's Best Peanut Butter Beer and Wine Fruit Flavoring which you can find at your local homebrew store, Amazon, or online homebrewing retail stores. You can also have a mixed approach where you use PB2 in the boil and extract in the secondary or at kegging time.


Best Beer Styles for Peanut Butter Flavor

Peanut butter flavor tends to pair well with beer styles that have robust and complementary flavors. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Porters and Stouts: These dark beers often have notes of coffee and chocolate that can beautifully harmonize with the nuttiness of PB2.

  2. Brown Ales: A malt-forward brown ale can serve as a great backdrop for the unique, nutty notes of PB2.

  3. Fruit Beers: Try adding a touch of PB2 to a raspberry or strawberry beer for a beer version of PB&J.

  4. Milkshake IPAs: PB2 can be an exciting addition to a Milkshake IPA, a style known for its creamy, fruity, and often sweet character. Integrating PB2 can add a nutty complexity to the beer, complementing the rich and smooth texture that's characteristic of Milkshake IPAs.

Beer Ideas to Experiment With

Ready to get started with PB2? Here are some beer ideas for you to experiment with:

  1. Peanut Butter Porter: A rich and robust porter with a hint of PB2 to enhance its depth.

  2. Nutty Brown Ale: Add PB2 to your brown ale recipe for a beer that's packed with malt and nut flavors.

  3. Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout: Think of this as a liquid, alcoholic version of a peanut butter cup. Add cocoa nibs and PB2 to your stout for a delicious treat.

  4. White Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout: How about breaking the mold and creating a white chocolate peanut butter stout that mimics REESE'S White Creme Peanut Butter Cups?

  5. PB&J Milkshake IPA: Get nostalgic with a fruity Milkshake IPA (like raspberry or strawberry) and add some PB2 for a childhood sandwich-inspired brew.

  6. Peanut Butter Coffee Stout: Combine the rich flavors of coffee and peanut butter in a hearty stout.

Conclusion

Whether it's a luxurious Chocolate PB2 Stout or a playful PB&J Milkshake IPA, the potential variations are limited only by your imagination. What I've found over the years is that PB2 isn't just an ingredient; it's a gateway to a delightful and unexplored world of flavors. Its inclusion in my brewing repertoire has led to countless enjoyable brew days and satisfied smiles around the tasting table.


I hope this guide inspires you to experiment, to taste, and to create. With PB2 in hand and these best practices in mind, your brewing adventure is set to reach delightful, nutty new heights.


Happy brewing! 🍻


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