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Go Nuts! Getting the Best Results Brewing With Hazelnuts

Once you figure out how best to avoid the pitfalls of using hazelnuts (also known as filberts), you’ll find a solid adjunct that is a versatile player with other ingredients in a variety of styles.

John Holl Sep 11, 2019 - 5 min read

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Years ago, when Christian DeBenedetti was working on his book, The Great American Ale Trail, but long before he would open his Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery in Newburg, Oregon, he was in Brooklyn talking with Garrett Oliver about hazelnuts. Or, if you happen to live on, come from, or grow up on a farm that harvests them, as DeBenedetti did, filbert nuts.

“I use the words interchangeably,” he says. Oliver, the brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery, was interested in the ingredient but warned DeBenedetti to be careful of the fatty oils the nuts contained because they could have adverse effects on the beer, like loss of head retention.

It’s those fatty oils, DeBenedetti says, that can also be a benefit to a beer because they can help draw out or boost other flavors. When he finally did open his brewery, he began to experiment with hazelnuts by mixing them with other special ingredients. He landed on white truffles for one beer and found that by steeping the two ingredients together and then adding that essence to a finished beer, he was able to keep the desired flavors vibrant and didn’t lose head retention.

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John Holl is the author of Drink Beer, Think Beer: Getting to the Bottom of Every Pint, and has worked for both Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® and All About Beer Magazine.