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Old 07-16-2009, 05:04 PM   #1
CADragon
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Default Steeping Spices in Vodka

I’m going to be brewing a (pumpkin) spice ale for the fall and could use some advice with spicing. I’m going to steep the spices in vodka, so two things:

1. I bought fresh whole spices (allspice, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg); do I want to crush them first (mortar and pestle)?

2. Is there a limit to how long to keep the spices in the vodka? Do you start extracting tannins or something similar after too many weeks? I figure once I'm done steeping, I'll filter the dry goods out and keep the spiced vodkas in ball jars for future batches.

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Old 07-16-2009, 05:16 PM   #2
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I'm not sure about tannins, but I would definately crush the spices. It will give you a lot more surface area and better extraction.

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Old 07-16-2009, 07:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CADragon View Post
I’m going to be brewing a (pumpkin) spice ale for the fall and could use some advice with spicing. I’m going to steep the spices in vodka, so two things:

1. I bought fresh whole spices (allspice, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg); do I want to crush them first (mortar and pestle)?

2. Is there a limit to how long to keep the spices in the vodka? Do you start extracting tannins or something similar after too many weeks? I figure once I'm done steeping, I'll filter the dry goods out and keep the spiced vodkas in ball jars for future batches.
I will be making a pumpkin beer this Tuesday, and I have toyed with the idea of dosing with spiced vodka too.

Do you plan on only dosing the beer with the vodka, or are you going to add some spice at the end of your boil as well?
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Old 07-16-2009, 08:35 PM   #4
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I don't plan on it. From what I've read, this is the easiest way to control how much spice is in your end product. It's also possible to lose some aromatics when you boil.

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Old 07-16-2009, 09:07 PM   #5
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I definitely agree that you should crush the spices. Certainly, plopping in a whole nutmeg isn't right.

I'm guessing there would be a point in which the spices would work against you, so filtering them out at some point helps. Then again, if you hold on to the filtered vodka for too long, the spice flavor would fade. I think a lot of people do 'potions" as a one-off, only steeping what they need for the current batch.

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Old 07-16-2009, 09:37 PM   #6
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I used spice in secondary for an apfelwein I've made. I kinda went overboard and used 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 nutmeg about 10 cloves and about a teaspoon of ground allspice (couldn't get whole) all were dried. I just broke the cinnamon up a bit and smashed the nutmeg into chunks. I soaked my spices in a 1/2 cup of gold rum for about a week, then racked the apfelwein on to it and left it for 2 weeks. This was for 4L batch. I have to say that it was probably well overdone, as when I bottled last weekend I had a taste and it was very spicy. I'm hoping that it will calm down a bit with some time.

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Old 07-16-2009, 10:01 PM   #7
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I didn't think about the spice flavor fading, I guess I'll have to do some research on approximately how much I'll need beforehand.

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Old 07-16-2009, 10:37 PM   #8
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Don't worry about tannins unless you are using tea leaves - the flavour of the spice will drown out any mild tannins. There is a solubility limit to some "spices" for instance hops do dissolve flavour out into vodka/water but its volume dependant so you can't do much with a couple ounces of solution. Other spices like black pepper are only needed in minute quantity so solubility is not a big concern.

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