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Old 11-06-2011, 10:17 AM   #1
sammytag
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Default Late addition smoke - any advice?

Alright! So I tried to smoke some specialty grains today for a red ale. I don't have a fancy smoker or anything, so I just spread out a layer of hickory on my bbq grille, put the grains on a baking sheet then put them on the smoking hickory for about an hour. The grain smelled pretty smokey after an hour, so I crushed it up and used it in the brew.

I tasted the gravity reading, and there was no perceptible smoke flavour. I'll definitely change my smoking process in the future to make it more efficient, but, does anyone have any advice on how to get some smokey influence in my already-fermenting brew?

I don't really want to use 'liquid smoke', because I've heard it's not really very good. Something I'm planning on doing is adding a heavy toast oak spiral that I've got soaking in some islay scotch. Maybe this is inadvisable, but I've also thought about getting some hickory smoke into my secondary, and racking the beer onto the smoke. Maybe that would be horrible. I don't know.

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Old 11-06-2011, 04:00 PM   #2
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I don't know if you're going to get any of that smoke to stick in the secondary.

In order to get the smoke to stick to the grains the grains need to be moist. Using a smoker obviously helps because the smoke stays cool and concentrated so it sticks to the grain faster. With dry grain over an open fire you're only going to get minimal smoke to stick around.

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Old 11-06-2011, 08:29 PM   #3
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Cool. Thanks for the tip. I'll remember to dampen my grains for next time.

The thing that made me think of getting smoke into the secondary is a local restaurant that serves a plate of roast duck with cigar smoke enveloping it. I mean, this is all speculative, because I'm not convinced that it would be a good idea, but, to get the smoke in the fermenter, I think I'd just turn the empty carboy upside down over some smouldering hickory and let it fill up. I don't think this is a particularly good idea because I have a sneaking suspicion that it might turn my good tasting wort into bad tasting bongwater. I guess I just need somebody to say "That would be a good/bad thing to do because..."

Alternatively, if anyone has any tested/advisable techniques for how to get some smoke influence, I would be very interested to hear them.

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Old 11-07-2011, 03:07 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sammytag View Post
Cool. Thanks for the tip. I'll remember to dampen my grains for next time.

The thing that made me think of getting smoke into the secondary is a local restaurant that serves a plate of roast duck with cigar smoke enveloping it. I mean, this is all speculative, because I'm not convinced that it would be a good idea, but, to get the smoke in the fermenter, I think I'd just turn the empty carboy upside down over some smouldering hickory and let it fill up. I don't think this is a particularly good idea because I have a sneaking suspicion that it might turn my good tasting wort into bad tasting bongwater. I guess I just need somebody to say "That would be a good/bad thing to do because..."

Alternatively, if anyone has any tested/advisable techniques for how to get some smoke influence, I would be very interested to hear them.
The reason that works with food is that when you take the lid off the plate (I assume that's how they keep the smoke around the duck) the smoke comes directly into your nose and mouth and you continue to get that flavor while you eat. Sort of a different effect. I think you also have a different situation where you want the smoke to stick around for minutes rather than weeks or months. It's an interesting idea but I think you're get more of a bongwater taste from it.

Why not just steep some smoked grains, give the water a quick boil to sanitize and blend into the beer?
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Old 11-07-2011, 06:34 AM   #5
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Yeah, I think that's another viable option. Maybe I'll give that a shot. Thanks!

EDIT: But does anybody have any other suggestions?

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Old 11-21-2011, 05:41 AM   #6
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Just checking back in. The red ale is bottled now, and tasting great. In case anyone is curious, the oak spiral soaked in smokey scotch did the trick.

I had the spiral immersed in a mix of ardbeg, laphroig and lagavulin (very smoky & peaty scotches), for about a week. Then I put it in the secondary for about 10 days or so, and the beer ended up having a nice toasted oak flavour, and a complex smoke aroma. Definitely on the subtle side, but worth a try!

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Old 11-21-2011, 06:47 PM   #7
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Liquid Smoke?

Never used it in beer but a couple drops does a lot in a batch of chili.
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Old 11-21-2011, 09:20 PM   #8
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The Apple LS might be fine.. but, I'd probably stay away from the Mesquite.. it has a pretty overwhelming character/taste for many meats. A little goes a LONG way. Maybe 1 teaspoon for 5 G may be a good start for a first.. others may say different. I think it would be worth a try.. Keep us posted.

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Old 11-23-2011, 10:11 PM   #9
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A guy in my brew club ran smoke bubbles from a little setup through wort to "smoke" it. It was called "Bong Water" IIRC. Tasted fairly good and had a nice mellow smoke flavor.

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Old 11-24-2011, 06:23 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Azurecybe View Post
A guy in my brew club ran smoke bubbles from a little setup through wort to "smoke" it. It was called "Bong Water" IIRC. Tasted fairly good and had a nice mellow smoke flavor.
That's good to know. I might fool around with that in future brews. Thanks!
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