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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Recipes/Ingredients > Dry Spicing
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Old 10-11-2011, 01:28 AM   #1
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Default Dry Spicing

This will be my first time giving a personal touch to an extract kit. I wanted to get a few batches under my belt before changing things up. I'm doing a pumpkin ale and I've been told that it has a slight pumpkin taste to it. Well, my friends and I are fond of the "holy crap this tastes like a slice of pie" pumpkin ales. If someone could give me a few hints as to when would be best to throw some extra spice in I would appreciate it.

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Old 10-11-2011, 03:10 AM   #2
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#1 - Search for "pumpkin recipe" here on HBT and you'll find plenty. Learn to love the search feature!

#2 - Don't "dry spice" in the fermenter. It's not sanitized and you won't get your best utilization from your spices. You'll want to make a tea or a tincture. To make a tea, the spices need to soak in hot water to release their aromatics and then cool before adding to the fermenter. Ideally, you'll want the water boiling for a bit with the spices in it to make sure it's sanitized - a lot of brewers use coffee percolators to make spice teas. To make a tincture (which many people mistakenly call an extract), soak the spices in alcohol overnight, then add to the fermenter. Be sure to use at least 80 proof (40%ABV) alcohol like vodka to sanitize the spices properly. Careful selection of your liquor can be beneficial to flavors (for example, whiskeys work very well in Scottish and Irish ales)...a nice spiced rum could add some lovely caramel flavors to a pumpkin ale. As for your spices, the "pumpkin pie" recipes call for something along the lines of 1/4tsp each of cinnamon, clove, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg. A "pumpkin pie", "apple pie", or garam marsala blend could work instead. For an extra twist, you might want to consider other "pastry" spices such as mace, cardamom, white pepper, etc.

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Old 10-11-2011, 03:21 AM   #3
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I appreciate the response. It is very helpful. I have found several spice mix recipes here in forums. I've got the idea there. Your tincture suggestion is a new technique to me and I will definitely give it a go soon. Probably going to run with the tea method this time.

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Old 10-11-2011, 03:25 AM   #4
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I love the tincture approach...used to be a bartender known for custom mixed drinks, so I've got a pretty good mental inventory of the flavors in each liquor. My Solstice Special, for example has a bunch of dried bing cherries, raisins, cinnamon sticks, and dried orange peel soaked for a week in a mixture of triple sec, white rum, and a bit of everclear (to up the abv to sanitization levels). And my oak chips/cubes nearly always soak in spiced rum or bourbon before being added....

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Old 10-11-2011, 03:32 AM   #5
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Without a doubt I will be looking into some recipes that utilize that technique. In fact, probably my next batch. Very interesting concept to me. Also it's something that I haven't heard any of my friends that brew mention so there's that motivation as well.

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Old 10-11-2011, 01:13 PM   #6
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heh....nothin' like a new technique or ingredient to show off!

If you really want to take it to the next level to show off, I did a whiskey wheat ale (Whis'Kee Whe'Add) a while back that was dosed with a smooth bourbon that had an assortment of herbs soaking in it for over 6 months. VERY unusual aromatic combination!

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Old 10-11-2011, 03:30 PM   #7
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I second the tincture approach, nothing beats it to make sure you get the right amount of spices. I had a VERY bad experience with cloves in a winter warmer once and this is now the only way i add flavors to my beer.
Check out a write up on tinctures here http://hollisbrewco.blogspot.com/201...tinctures.html

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Old 10-11-2011, 06:14 PM   #8
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How much spice vs vodka do you use? Or is it just how strong/weak your preference is?

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Old 10-11-2011, 09:58 PM   #9
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Unless you're trying to impart flavors from your alcohol or up your ABV, stick with the minimum amount you can use to soak in...I usually don't go above 1/4c in a small mason jar. Especially if you're using vodka, the idea is to (a) sanitize the spices, including the "inside" parts of them and (b) to provide a dilution medium to allow the oils and aromatics to more easily suspend in an aqueous solution (i.e. wort/beer).

Bear in mind that adding too much high-proof alcohol can put your beer above the limits that your yeast can tolerate, which can stall your fermentation or prevent natural carbonation in your bottles. That happened with my Whis'Kee Whe'Add...I really wanted the whiskey flavor to come through, so I ended up adding about 11oz of the herbed whiskey after straining it (I think it was a whiskey over 100 proof) and brought my ferment/clearing to a crawl. It also took forEVER to carbonate at all (never got much of a head) and after nearly a year, there is still a hint of "green beer" in the flavor that the yeast never got to scrub out....

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Old 10-11-2011, 10:27 PM   #10
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Yeah, killing the yeast is what I was worried about. I had a similar experience with my first go at a high gravity batch. In fact, I'm still waiting to see how that turns out. I'm stoked about trying this technique. I brew this Saturday so I'll start the tincture Sunday. I've read different opinions on when to add it. I probably will go with adding it into the batch right before bottling. Unless of course, I am advised against it between now and then.

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