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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Recipes/Ingredients > Adding spices to beer (extract)
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Old 11-18-2013, 05:14 PM   #1
miteyjoe
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Default Adding spices to beer (extract)

Hello all, I have a Nut Brown ale kit and I'm planning to add mulling spices to make it a holiday ale. I've heard a few different ways to deliver the spices and was hoping to get some input / experiences. The three methods are as follows:

1) Add spices in the last 15 minutes of the boils.

2) Add spices to a secondary fermentation

3) Create a "tea" using vodka along with the spices and add at secondary or on bottling day

I was thinking of some combination of #1 and #3, but would appreciate any feedback or comments.

Cheers!

-Joe

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Old 11-18-2013, 06:46 PM   #2
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Any of those would work. The advantage of using (3) is that you can adjust the amount at bottling until you get the flavor you like. It's a bit of a hassle, but really no more of a hassle than many other things you do while brewing, and you remove the risk of over-spicing (and possibly ruining) a batch that way. That said, laying a "base" using methods 1 and 2 with less than the full amount of spice is also totally reasonable. You can then just use 3 to adjust things up to the final level.

FWIW, I use method 1 for spice additions that aren't supposed to be too prominent (e.g., small amount of coriander in Belgian beer), and 3 for a "spice" beer (e.g. winter warmer).

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Old 11-18-2013, 08:23 PM   #3
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Thanks, I appreciate the feedback. I bought 3.5 ounces of spice with the idea of using 1.5 in the boil or secondary and the rest in the "tea". Since I have never used the "tea" method, does it make sense to use a good brand of vodka or will any brand work?

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Old 11-18-2013, 08:34 PM   #4
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Any brand will work, though I would stay away from the really really cheap stuff. You don't need very much vodka, but the vodka itself (or whiskey, or whatever spirit you use) should go into the beer at the end--it absorbs the flavor of the spice. That's why you don't want something totally terrible: it will add its burning cheap booze flavor to your beer, even if it's just a small quantity.

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Old 11-18-2013, 09:10 PM   #5
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I went with the Vodka tea method on my pumpkin ale and couldn't be happier. I used the only 1/2 pint brand they had. Poured out an ounce and left the spices soak for two weeks. I mixed it into the priming sugar while cooling. I'm hooked on the tea method.

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Old 11-20-2013, 08:54 PM   #6
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What do you think about the use of a cordial like Triple-Sec for making the tea? I know I have a bottle at home and I was thinking that the orange flavor could be a nice addition. Not having done a tea before, I wasn't sure if the vodka was use since it doesn't really impart any flavor into the beer.

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Old 11-20-2013, 09:36 PM   #7
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Yeah, I mean it just depends on what you want to do. I'm no biochemist, but I think spirits are good because they are sterile and have at least two solvents (alcohol and water) in them. So there's no reason not to use triple sec instead of vodka, as long as you're okay with having a little orange taste in the final product. I would taste a little in your beer on its own first, though (in the proportion you intend to use), in case it's weird.

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Old 11-21-2013, 12:31 AM   #8
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if you want the spices to be pretty pronounced i would add them to secondary and let stand for 2-3 days. if you want less intense add to primary or leave it longer in secondary.

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