Ok, first off take the info provided hereafter as a work in progress and I, in no means have a clue what I'm doing but rather fumbling through cheese making on the shirttails of those who really know what they are doing. So thanks to all those who provided the much needed advice regarding this cheese in This Post!
Alright now on to what I did find and what the outcome was. I decided to take kind of a brute force approach to deciding on when to introduce the beer into the procedure.
The recipe was the same farmhouse cheddar recipe used in Chilipepper's Cheese #009
so I will not detail it here but rather the variances to get to where we are trying to get with the nice marbled texture of this type of cheese.
I took samples of the curd at a couple of stages in development and soaked them in the beer to see what effect it would have and how much it would absorb into the curd.
Surprisingly the curd right after cutting and in its most fragile state didn't absorb as much color from the beer as I expected. Also this early in the game you wouldn't get the proper texture to get a good cheese either but it satisfied my curiosity and proved the point.
Tender curd soaking in beer.
Curd cut after 30 minutes in beer at 90 degrees.
So where I changed the process and added the beer was after you drain the cooked curd and have the mass of curd in the cheddaring phase. I milled this curd by hand, salted and added 1 pint (2 cups) of my chokecherry stout that was warmed to 100 degress. NOTE: this 'stout' ended up not quite as dark as I planned and then takes on a little of a ruby hue from the chokecherries. I let this soak for 30 minutes in the beer to transfer the color/flavor from the beer.
Milled and salted curd soaking in warm beer.
At this point I did a squeeze test to see what would happen. The curd pressed together nicely and when cut had a fairly positive looking cross-section.
Cross-section of hand pressed curd. Taste also indicated a good transfer of the beer flavor and malt.
Curd temperature at this point had dropped to 95 degrees. I did have the bowl of curd soaking in beer over a water bath to try and maintain the temps close to 100 degrees. I used a smaller bucket to do this and the water cooled faster than I was used to so the temps dropped slightly.
I drained again through some cheese cloth and transferred to the mold and press. From here on out it was pretty much the same procedure. 15 lbs for 10 minutes, turn and redress, 25 lbs for 10 minutes, turn and redress then 55 lbs for 15 hours (in this case).
And the outcome... well it looks fairly positive!
Out of the press. Coloring is not the black/chocolate look of the commercial variety but that is due to my 'ligher' stout. Looks like wine instead...Hmmm maybe another experiment there!
Close-up of cheese.
Some after-the-fact notes I made to keep in the back of my mind for the next go around and after this one ages and I can cut it to see how the structure looks....
1. Mill the curd: I think rather than crumbling the curd with your fingers to mill it, I think one should cut it to get the same visual texture shown in the commercial examples. Also, possibly cutting 2/3's of the curd into larger pieces and 1/3 into small pieces might come closer to the target texture.
2. Study the effects of temps and Ph to better understand the curd development process and how the introduction of the beer may effect the cheese.
Well now it is all down to patience and praying for this one... I did cut the sign of the cross into the curd as shown in some of those video's from Italy. I can always use all the help I can get!
I'll be waxing it in a couple of days when it dries out and then my thought is to age for one month before cutting. Would it be beneficial to wait longer? if so why?
Thanks and sorry for the LONG post!