Toasted Coconut Porter sounded like a good idea. A little tropical, and I liked the idea of a summery porter. It seemed the consensus among homebrewers online was to use real coconut meat for the best flavor.
Once our basic porter was brewed and in the primary, I went to pick up the coconut. I was hoping for bags of the fluffy shredded kind, but all they had was the sweetened. Random sugars in the brew seemed like a bad idea, so I went to a different grocery store, then another. No luck. So I headed home with a bag of whole, hairy, brown coconuts. Initially, I had been worried that getting them open would be hard, but the stickers on the side said “quick crack,” and listed just a few short steps to get the meat out.
Step one: Puncture the pre-scored eyes with a dull knife and drain the water.
Using a butter knife, I poked at the little divots. Nothing happened. I pushed harder on the knife. They didn’t even dent. I braced the coconut, and jabbed sharply at the eyes… This didn’t seem safe. I turned the coconut over in my hands a few times, looking for different eyes, maybe I was trying to puncture the wrong thing? I switched to a sharper knife, and jabbed some more… Finally, after unsuccessfully trying to punch through the eyes with a hammer and nail, I gave up and got out my drill.
Step two: Drain the water through the eye holes.
I set the coconuts upside-down over a pint glass to drain, but they just dripped a little. I drilled another hole in the top, some air flow should help, right? Nope. So I shook them and shook them until they tinkled out all the liquid. This was taking longer than I had planned.
Step three: Crack along the pre-scored line and remove the meat.
Crack how? Using what? There was a faint line pressed along the equator of the hard shell, but I’d hardly call it scored. YouTube to the rescue! Within a minute, I was watching a video that expertly showed me everything I had done wrong so far. Now all I had to do was whack the coconut along the equator with the dull edge of a knife, and it would pop right open. The first one split easily in half with one whack. Perfect. The second one started a tiny crack, but after beating on it for several minutes, I was making no progress. Maybe I should hit the coconut against something hard? Crap… I think I dented the kitchen counter. I ended up taking them outside, where I banged them on the corner of the concrete porch. Open and done.
The meat would only come out of the shell in small inconvenient shapes, and the chunks were too little to hold and shred. Without a food processor, I slap-chopped the meat in batches, and finally ended up with enough to toast for the beer.
So with three and a half hours gone from my evening, I finally sat down with a glass of coconut water and rum to relax, and reflect on what to do differently next time. First on the list: Don’t drink coconut water and rum. It’s awful.