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Old 10-08-2012, 05:41 AM   #1
Oct 2012
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Posts: 26
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Hello Brewers,

I am looking to brew a Christmas Ale (not necessarily in time for this year's holidays, so aging is not an issue) and plan to base it on a combination of recipes already posted on HBT - a nice heavy, malty brown ale to porter style beer with vanilla bean, cinnamon, and maybe some nutmeg. However I would really like to incorporate clove into this beer. I very much associate the pleasant smell of clove with the holidays and would love to add this aroma to the beer. I would imagine this ingredient would need to be used in small doses and probably added at the very end of the boil as to not impart too much flavor and just boquet. I have seen many complaints of clove flavors in beer, however I have also heard great things about beers brewed with clove. Have any of you used clove successfully and what guidelines do you recommend for success with this additive?

Thanks much!

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Old 10-08-2012, 05:54 AM   #2
JollyIsTheRoger's Avatar
Feb 2011
Northwest Indiana/Chicago
Posts: 520
Liked 29 Times on 23 Posts

I added clove to a brown last year for christmas, 3 whole cloves, threw them in the boil with 5 min to go with some honey and cinnamon sticks. They got dumped into the primary fermenter too. WAAAY too much clove, I suggest 1 or maybe 2 cloves boiled for 5 min, but then removed before cooling. I added more cinnamon at bottling hoping to counteract the clove, but it wasn't enough. It was undrinkable at a month, by month 4 if you could get past the fact that your mouth and throat went numb while drinking it, it wasn't bad. Now, 10 months down the line, its pretty tasty, just wishing it still had the other spice flavors there.

So take it easy, you can always boil some more and make a tincture to add later if you feel its lacking, easy to put in, impossible to take out.
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Old 10-08-2012, 02:57 PM   #3
Jan 2011
Sierra, Nevada
Posts: 4,041
Liked 440 Times on 351 Posts

You could probably omit real clove altogether. There are a couple yeast varietals out there which can lend heavy clove notes depending on the temperatures at which they are allowed to ferment. WLP 380 & 566 come to mind.

Otherwise, I recommend making a separate, concentrated spice tea... tasting it and using it accordingly to adjust the flavor of your wort at flameout.

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Old 10-08-2012, 04:00 PM   #4
TopherM's Avatar
Mar 2011
St. Petersburg, FL
Posts: 3,974
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I have seen many complaints of clove flavors in beer, however I have also heard great things about beers brewed with clove.
When brewers talk about clove flavors, they typically aren't talking about actual cloves, they are talking about a common phenol flavor/off flavor that most yeasts give off at certain temperatures. These phenols are desireable in some styles, especially wheats and weizens, but very undesireable in most other styles.

Like the last poster said, if you just want a subtle clove flavor, there are yeast strains designed so that they will produce clove flavors at lower fermentation temps, like WLP380, WLP566, and Wyeast 3068. One of those yeasts coupled with a dryhop of 1-2 cloves would give you much more control over what you are trying to accomplish.
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