BrewBlog: El Guapo
General Information
Method: All Grain

This beer was inspired by Westbook Brewing's Mexican Cake, a beer I never actually had, but sounded like something that would be interesting on my Nitro tap. 

I researched the beer online and also wrote the brewery.  Here is the reply I received:

Hi Ken,

I'm just about the only person at the brewery willing to answer these emails so hopefully you can settle for me ;) (I have done just about every job at the brewery including brewing, and I've been homebrewing for over 10 years if that helps). I'll try to answer your questions as best I can without giving away any of our "secrets."

Malt bill isn't too crazy: you can go with a basic stout malt bill (something with Chocolate, Dark/ExtraDark Crystal) bill and adjust it for ~10.5%. We do add a little bit of flaked oats to give it a slightly creamier mouth-feel. We also add Dextrose and Dark Belgian Candi Syrup (end of boil/whirlpool) to help get us enough sugar to hit 10.5%. Target OG: 1.1034 and Target FG: 1.0233. 

We use basic CTZ (Columbus, Tomahawk, and/or Zeus) hopping for bitterness (60 minutes). No further hop additions.

We use our house english ale yeast. Again, nothing too special here.

Mash Water at 172 F shooting for 150 F at rest. We don't do step mashes, but we do have to do two mashes per batch simply because the quantity of grain required won't all fit into a single mash (i.e. we do two mashes to get 15 BBL each for a total of 30 BBL batch; normally we do a single mash to get 30 BBL batch).

Regarding Adjuncts: We add all of the adjuncts to our bright tanks so I would recommend adding to your secondary for 3-5 days. Ratio wise, you will probably want to shoot for something like 1 : 5 : 10 : 15 (ground cinnamon : vanilla bean : habanero : cocoa nibs). The exact quantities don't scale to a homebrew size well (it's not very linear, and you will probably need a higher #/gal than we do). The habanero and cinnamon can be blended together using a blender or food processor. The vanilla bean can be chopped into bits, but leave the cocoa nibs whole. The biggest problem comes with the habaneros though. The amount of heat they provide can vary wildly from crop to crop. We usually end up adding more habaneros after a couple days to try to get the heat where we want it and sometimes have to do this multiple times. They are very tricky to work with.

Hope this helps. Happy brewing,

Josh WeaverHead Cellarman & Lab Manager


T: (843) 654-9114

Westbrook Brewing Company

510 Ridge RdMount Pleasant, SC 29464

Scale Recipe
Enter desired final yield (volume):
Malts and Grains
12.00 pounds 61.5% of grist
2.50 pounds 12.8% of grist
2.00 pounds 10.3% of grist
2.00 pounds 10.3% of grist
0.50 pounds
Briess Blackprinz® Malt
2.6% of grist
0.50 pounds 2.6% of grist
19.50 pounds 100% of grist
1.00 pounds D-180 Candi Syrup  
1.00 pounds Dextrose (Corn Sugar)  
1.2 Whirlfloc @ 15 minutes  
.6 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 10 minutes  
Habanero Pepper  
Cinnamon Stick  
Total Boil Time: 90 minutes
Name: Dry English Ale
Manufacturer: White Labs
Product ID: WLP007
Type: Ale
Flocculation: High
Attenuation: 75%
Temperature Range: 65–70°F
Amount: 70 ml
Equipment Profile

Sabco Brew-Magic: Ken Megal

Batch Size: 10.5 gallons Boil Volume: 14.1 gallons
Evaporation Rate: 15% per hour Mash Tun Dead Space: .25 gallons
Efficiency: 70% Mash Tun Weight: 30 pounds
Hop Utilization: 100% Mash Tun Volume: 15 gallons
Loss: .5 gallons Mash Tun Specific Heat:
Mash Profile

Single Infusion Mash, Medium Bodied Beer

Grain Temperature: 72°F Tun Temperature: 72°F
Sparge Temperature: 168°F PH: 5.4
PPG: 31.8 Efficiency: 102.9%

Mash profile for most well-modified malts.


# Name Type Time Temp. Description
1 Mash In Infusion 60 min. 154°F

Add 70% of mash water at 166° F / 74° C

2 Mash Out Infusion 10 min. 168°F

Add 30% of mash water at 197° F / 92° C

Water Profile

Milwaukee, WI

Calicum: 96 ppm
Bicarbonate: 107 ppm
Sulfate: 26 ppm
Chloride: 16 ppm
Sodium: 7 ppm
Magnesium: 47 ppm
PH: 7.5%

Famous for Pilsners and Lagers.


Brew Day:

Had a good brew day. Started at about 6:30am.  Had my bucket heater on timer for 3 hours and the HLT water was at 120F.  Heated the water to 166F, then transferred to MLT.  The mash was at 146F and bumped up to Sach rest of 150F.

I didn't have dextrose, so I used table sugar.  My pre-boil gravity was 1.066 (this was without the table suger and Belgian Candy Sugar).  

Add the table sugar with 5 minutes left in the boil and the Belgian Candy Sugar with 1 minute left.  My OG was 1.099 at the end of the boil.

Since it's such a big beer, I also used the O2 stone on my chiller for the first time and hit the wort with O2 as it passed through the chiller.  Seemed to work well. 

I did a 2 liter starter with the 2 vials of WLP007.

Pitched the yeast at 66F. Hit it with 60 - 90 seconds of O2, then pitched. After pitching and shaking the carboy, the temp was at 65F.  I set the dual control for 66F and let the beer free-rise to 68F. 


Racked the beer to secondary tonight with 4 sliced Habaneros, 2 split Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans, 5oz. Cacao Nibs and 2 Whole Cinnamon sticks.  I purged the carboy with CO2 after I added the adjunts, then transferred the beer on top.  A lot of the ingredients floated up and I tried to gently rock the carboy to get them to saturate and settle.  I put a new carboy cap and air lock on and just wedged the thermocouple for the temp control under the straps and left the setting at 65F. I hope to leave it on the adjunts for 5 days, then keg.  The Habaneros seems pretty aggressive, so I'm hoping 4 is not too much.  We shall see.



So after being on the peppers and spices for about 40 hours, I took a sample.  Not bad.  The peppers definitely are the star of the show in both the aroma and flavor, but they haven't added a lot of "hot" heat (good).  There is some warming heat that builds as you drink more, but nothing hot to keep you from going back for another taste. Remember this is at 65F and uncarbonated as well.  I decided to amp up the other flavor a tad to help balance.  I added an additional cinnamon stick, 1 additional vanilla bean (split, scraped and added) and about another ounce of Cacao nibs.  Fingers crossed.



I had the tapping tonight.  My opinion of the beer is the vanilla and cacao are overdone.  I would have been better off leaving out the additions I did on 10/18.  

Feedback from the folks that came over is they think the heat hits you in the back of the throat and is not overbearing, however I also think  based on their comments they might consider it a little much.  3 peppers may have been a better starting point. No one really commented on the other flavors being too much, but I still think the vanilla and cacao nibs are on the high side.  

Put the beer on Nitro and it seems to be a nice pour.



Brought the keg to the Barons meeting.  The feedback was positive.  People seemed to like the heat and overall flavors of the beer.  Jayme said compared to Mexican Cake the heat in mine was a little higher/more evident and that Mexican Cake has more pronounced vanilla flavors. Perhaps I'm happy with mine then as I think it's too vanilla-forward already.  


Special Procedures

Habanero Peppers

Vanilla Bean

Cinnamon Stick

Cacao Nibs

All added to secondary for 2 - 6 days.

Primary: 12 days @ 68° F
Secondary: 4 days @ 65° F
Tasting Reviews
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