So I picked up some ingredients for a red ale at the brewing store last night, along with some Saaz hops I grabbed on impulse with the thought of maybe dry-hopping.
My first batch - an IPA - having turned out okay, I'm now going to proceed to completely get ahead of myself and experiment with flavorings.
My thinking is that reds and ambers typically sort of have a malty, piney, earthy, fuller bodied sort of thing going on, which I could punch up with those Saaz hops. And I started pondering what sort of flavorings I could play with to go along with that profile.
My first thought was some sort of spices - juniper berries, fennel seeds, or something like that.
But then I started getting excited about the idea of introducing tea. I'm a morning tea drinker, and there's a lot of flavors in tea that could be compatible with an earthy, malty red ale. There's keemun, which has notes of pine and dried plum, and then there's a really wild-ass black tea smoked over pine fires called Lapsang Suchong which I love. I've had some smoked rauchbiers and thought they were quite enjoyable, so the idea of a smoky note along with tea and malt sounds enticing.
So has anybody else played with tea, especially in more medium-bodied and amberish beers? Any thoughts or pointers? My thinking at this point is an ounce or two of tea in some tied-off nylons for about 5-10 minutes at the end of the boil, then removed before cooling. Tea gets bitter and tannic if you steep it too long, and I imagine the bittering hops don't need much competition.