Adding flavoring agents to secondary

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FearItself

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I'm making a brew that I want to be flavored like iced tea, for a Labor Day party. I brewed a mild-flavored but fairly big Amber Ale (extract, since I didn't have time for a full-blown brew day, and had the Labor Day target). Should be around around 21 IBU and 5.8% abv. I wanted to get the flavors of tea and lemon in there, and after reading around here and elsewhere (this link was especially informative: http://chopandbrew.com/lagniappe/more-wisdom-for-homebrewing-with-tea/), I decided to do the following.

I waited until primary fermentation was complete, then put in a hops bag:
  • the zest of one lemon (carefully peeled using a potato peeler to get almost translucent strips with no pith (the white stuff under the outer rind)
  • three tea bags (Ceylon Orange Pekoe) - making sure the tea bags didn't have metal staples!
I tied the hops bag to leave plenty of space for things to move around, put it in a coffee mug (tamping the contents down a bit), and added just enough water to moisten everything (maybe an ounce?)

I microwaved the coffee mug for two minutes to sterilize, then added the hops bag to the carboy (I don't rack to a new vessel for secondary fermentation).

Now I just need to wait until I have the right flavor. I'll check every two days or so for the next week, then when I'm ready, I'll; extract the bag, cold crash and keg condition.

Why take this approach?
  • I didn't want to put these flavors in during the boil, because I figured they'd get lost during primary fermentation.
  • I needed to make sure everything was sterile, and I feel the biggest risk with adding things to the secondary is infection.
  • I didn't want to just make an extra-strong tea, because I didn't want too much tea bitterness. In fact, that concern pushed me to try to minimize the time the tea bag was exposed to hot water, so that's why I took this approach.
  • I considered steeping the tea and lemon in vodka for a few hours, instead, and that option was my second choice. But this was faster, and I liked the idea of adding almost no liquid to the secondary, so I went this way instead.

I welcome comments/predictions, and I'll let you all know how it comes out. I took a gravity sample right before adding the bag, and it tastes promising. A little more bitter than I want, but I am hoping that will mellow out during secondary and conditioning.
 
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FearItself

FearItself

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Well, it all worked out fine. The beer was a hit with the crowd; drinkable but with some bite, and the tea and lemon flavors were detectable but not overwhelming. I also has an ESB on hand for people who wanted more hops, but even my cousin, who is something of a hop fiend, said he would like the Amber if he was drinking several, or if it was hot out. So I'm calling this a success, and I think I'll keep using a similar technique for flavor additions in future brews. I'll post the recipe on the recipes forum and link to it here after I've done so.
 
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