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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Recipes/Ingredients > Saffron Ale?
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Old 04-15-2008, 05:33 PM   #1
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Default Saffron Ale?

I had a thought while driving to work this morning of making a saffron ale. Something special for a special occasion. I did some reading about using saffron online and found that DFH used it in their Midas Touch and Kelham Island Brewery in Sheffield, UK did one awhile ago.

It looks like steeping the saffron to make a 'saffron tea' would be the way to go. But I found nothing on when to add it to the beer. I'm guessing either at the end of the boil or in secondary. I'm leaning towards adding at secondary.

Any thoughts?

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Old 04-15-2008, 05:36 PM   #2
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Wow...Impressive idea...but wouldn't it take a lot to have any noticable taste?

A lot of saffron could get expensive.

The basic brewing podcasters did a saffron peach small batch mead before...It was only a gallon batch though.

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Old 04-15-2008, 06:44 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhoobarb
I did some reading about using saffron online and found that DFH used it in their Midas Touch and Kelham Island Brewery in Sheffield, UK did one awhile ago.
I didn't know Kelham Island did a saffron brew - shame I missed it. [EDIT - Ah, I see it was eight years ago. That was a bit before my time!]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhoobarb
It looks like steeping the saffron to make a 'saffron tea' would be the way to go. But I found nothing on when to add it to the beer. I'm guessing either at the end of the boil or in secondary. I'm leaning towards adding at secondary. Any thoughts?
I'd guess you'd add it in secondary or at flame-out. Saffron's got a pretty delicate flavor, and I imagine it's used as much (or more) for color as for taste. I noticed too that the Kelham Island brew had a reduced hop bill so as to not mask the aroma of saffron. That suggests it's fairly delicate.

It might be worth contacting Kelham Island to see if they have any suggestions on this ( enquiries@kelhambrewery.co.uk ). I don't think any of their current brewing team were around when the saffron beer was made, but the brewery is basically a good-sized brew pub, and I believe the couple who run it have been there for ages, so might be able to shed some light. Actually, I'll ask them next time I'm down there.

Do you have a copy of "Radical Brewing" by Randy Mosher? He covers the use of most potential beer ingredients in that, and he might mention using saffron there. LMK if not and I'll dig out my copy when I'm back home later in the week.
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Old 04-15-2008, 07:28 PM   #4
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Revvy, the one recipe I found was a Midas Touch clone and it called for 1.25 oz. That's ~$40.00 of saffron. Wow. Guess I better start sourcing a good supplier of inexpensive, yet good quality saffron. I'm sure those two qualities are mutually exclusive, but maybe I'll find a good online source.

Danek, if you get any info from the folks at Kelham Island, that would be great! Let me know. If not, I may contact them myself. I'm not planning to brew this right away, so I have time. I don't have "Radical Brewing" yet, but it is #1 on my list of books to get.

Thanks for the input!

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Old 04-15-2008, 08:01 PM   #5
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Yeah, Saffron is the MOST expensive spice on the planet, since it is hand picked from the pestle of the crocus flower....

I'm Spanish, we know saffron, becasue we use it in almost every dish...

I've only ever seen it in tiny plastic boxes with a few strands in it...at a couple bucks a pop.



Here's some info if you don't know,

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Saffron is extraordinarily expensive at $1000 a pound. (No, I didn’t make a mistake with the zeros). Why so pricey? The Saffron filaments, or threads, are actually the dried stigmas of the saffron flower, "Crocus Sativus Linneaus". Each flower contains only three stigmas. These threads must be picked from each flower by hand, and more than 75,000 of these flowers are needed to produce just one pound of Saffron filaments. Fortunately, only a tiny amount is needed for most recipes, so you don’t need a second mortgage on your house to cook with it.

Most chefs and home cooks alike recommend using saffron threads instead of powder to ensure that you are receiving true saffron and superior flavor. The threads should be soaked in water prior to using in the recipe, and suggested soaking times range from 20 minutes to several hours.
I've found it relatively cheap in mexican groceries or bulk spice shops (2-3 ounces)...maybe a dozen filaments for a couple of bucks...

This is 12 bucks worth from Amazon (11 ounces)



BUT the powder stuff he mentions is usually NOT saffron at all, but is often annatto which will not have the same flavor....

You could do a saffron beer using only a few ounces of saffron, if you steep them a long time in water, and brew the lightest, palest beer possible, with a very small hop bill or else you'll lose the saffron smell, taste...

I'm interested if you come up with something.
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Old 04-15-2008, 08:30 PM   #6
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Yeah, after searching for the last hour or so, I've determined that the powder is out. Threads only. It seems Spanish saffron has always been regarded as the best, but I'm finding that Iranian saffron is as good as the Spanish variety and can be had for less money b/c they cultivate so much and it is now legal to purchase in the US.

I've found NO deals online - if anything, they jack the price up. So I may have to look locally. I figure there should be some good local Persian stores in the Chicago area. I found one store near me that sells "Spanish Superior Grade Saffron" in a "1 oz. bag in a decorative tin" for only $95.95"!

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Old 04-15-2008, 08:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhoobarb
Yeah, after searching for the last hour or so, I've determined that the powder is out. Threads only. It seems Spanish saffron has always been regarded as the best, but I'm finding that Iranian saffron is as good as the Spanish variety and can be had for less money b/c they cultivate so much and it is now legal to purchase in the US.

I've found NO deals online - if anything, they jack the price up. So I may have to look locally. I figure there should be some good local Persian stores in the Chicago area. I found one store near me that sells "Spanish Superior Grade Saffron" in a "1 oz. bag in a decorative tin" for only $95.95"!

In Chi-town you shouldn't have any problem finding small amounts cheap. Look for a good ole fashion "Bodega" or mexican grocery, or like you said, persian markets.

I can't recall the mexican spice brand that most mexican groceries in the US carry, I think my little box of Saffron came from there...I'll check when I get home tonight.
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Old 04-15-2008, 09:00 PM   #8
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Being that we only use a few strands in Spanish Dishes like Paella, it does have a noticeably pronounced flavor...The thing to figure out is how much will be needed per a 5 gallon batch of beer.....I mean, 11 ounces for 12 bucks is a LOT of flavor....

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Old 04-15-2008, 09:07 PM   #9
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Go to a local small hole in the wall muslim or asian grocery. they always have it cheap. thats where I get mine for cooking.

The key to finding the cheapest store is look for the store with the yeast english in it...If all the signs are in an asian language you found the right store..If no one in there speaks english you definetely found the right store!!

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Old 04-16-2008, 04:29 PM   #10
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What is the shelf life on Saffron? I made some Paelle with saffron that was probably 8 months old and I thought the flavor was really lacking.

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