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Some spice guidance needed

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shafferpilot

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So, I know most folks don't care for spiced beers. That's cool, just skip this thread cause I'm not looking for an argument over whether or not to spice beer, but how to do it subtly for a yummy thick Christmas warmer.

Here's the base recipe. It's formed from leftovers I have onhand, but if something critical is missing, please do let me know cause if hitting the LHBS for a pound of something makes all the difference, I'll do it. I'm shooting for a DARK sweet creamy stout with some roastiness and lingering hints of christmas spices and flavors.

5+ gallon batch
OG - 1.080
FG - 1.020
ABV - 7.75%


7 lbs 6-Row Briess
2 lbs 8 oz Flaked Oats
1 lbs 8 oz Victory
1 lbs 8 oz Cara-Red
2 lbs 8 oz Caramel 120
13 oz Chocolate Malt

2 oz Crystal Leaf 60-minutes
1 oz Pacific Gem Leaf 60-minutes
1 oz Crystal Leaf 30-minutes

I want to add the following spices with the 30 minute hop addition:

1/2 tsp Allspice
1/2 tbs Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Clove
1/2 tbs Ginger
1/4 tsp Nutmeg

And I'm going to add 1/2 tbs vanilla extract at flameout

So the main question is, are these spices in generally good proportion? I know some spices like clove can be overpowering and others require significantly more to even be noticeable, but I just don't know if I have the proportions right at all. Advice from cooking and brewing experiences both greatly appreciated!

The second question is, I'm looking for very subtle spicing like maybe you only taste the spice as an aftertaste... Is the total amount of spice in the right ballpark for this?

Lastly, I was thinking of adding a little mint to give the suggestion of bailey's irish cream... thoughts on this too?

Thanks in advance!
 

bjl110

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I have zero experience with spices and brewing, but quite a bit (ie a whole bunch) with cooking. I would think that the addition of all of these would end up tasting....muddy. I would go maybe cinnamon, ginger, and one other (I'd probably choose allspice, but that's up to you). The "muddiness" thing would be my answer to the mint as well. As you noted clove can get very overpowering if you use too much, and my thought is that ginger can as well. I might back off a little, but as I said, I don't really know what portions to use in beer.

I've read in several threads that some people make a spice "tea" and add it during bottling. Maybe someone else can chime in about this. Your idea sounds pretty awesome though!
 

bovineblitz

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I have zero experience with spices and brewing, but quite a bit (ie a whole bunch) with cooking. I would think that the addition of all of these would end up tasting....muddy. I would go maybe cinnamon, ginger, and one other (I'd probably choose allspice, but that's up to you). The "muddiness" thing would be my answer to the mint as well. As you noted clove can get very overpowering if you use too much, and my thought is that ginger can as well. I might back off a little, but as I said, I don't really know what portions to use in beer.

I've read in several threads that some people make a spice "tea" and add it during bottling. Maybe someone else can chime in about this. Your idea sounds pretty awesome though!
All those spices together are essentially pumpkin pie spice. You may be right that it's a bit complex for a winter warmer, but it's definitely a common spice profile in pumpkin beers at least. I'm not sure I like the idea of the mint.

And yes, beware of cloves and dried ginger, they are STRONG. Allspice can be overpowering too.
 
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shafferpilot

shafferpilot

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I hadn't really thought about the muddiness effect... Thanks for getting that into my head. Really I just made a list of "Christmas" spices and went from there. The pumpkin pie spice route is viable but at least around here, I won't be able to find any for many months.

Yeah, the more I think about it, I think i need to simplify... I'm going with cinnamon for sure cause it's my favorite... But nutmeg is a close second. GAH, I can't decide. HELP! hahahaha
 
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shafferpilot

shafferpilot

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Ok... what two or three spices do ya'll think goes best with a sweet creamy stout?

I'm thinking molasses cookies use cinnamon cloves and ginger....

Ginger snaps use the same...

does that sound like it's headed down the right road?
 

bjl110

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Definitely. I think you could do some vanilla with any of the combos, as it tends to just enhance the flavor. Also, just throwing this out there, but a little sweetness will make the spices "pop". I can't tell by looking at beer recipes if they are sweet or not yet, but if not maybe consider lactose?

Also, I seem to remember a thread where Revvy talked of infusing your priming liquid as he did with ginger for his ginger snap brown. Something else to think about.
 

bovineblitz

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Ok... what two or three spices do ya'll think goes best with a sweet creamy stout?

I'm thinking molasses cookies use cinnamon cloves and ginger....

Ginger snaps use the same...

does that sound like it's headed down the right road?
That sounds good. I did a gingerbread beer a while ago where I used spices that you'd put in a gingerbread cookie in the same proportions, came out pretty good. I'm wary of using dried powdered spices though so I'm going to experiment this year with whole spices, no idea what amounts to use though.
 
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shafferpilot

shafferpilot

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Final recipe:

5+ gallon batch
OG - 1.085
FG - 1.020
ABV - 8.3%


7 lbs 6-Row Briess
2 lbs 8 oz Flaked Oats
1 lbs 8 oz Victory
1 lbs 8 oz Cara-Red
2 lbs 8 oz Caramel 120
13 oz Chocolate Malt
12 oz light brown sugar

2 oz Crystal Leaf 60-minutes
1 oz Pacific Gem Leaf 60-minutes
1 oz Crystal Leaf 30-minutes

Spices added at 30 minutes
2 tsp Cinnamon
2 tsp Ginger
1 tsp Nutmeg

1 Tbs Vanilla at flameout


We shall see how it turns out, but if the smell is any indication, this one is gonna come out exactly like what i was looking for. Thanks to all for the help!
 

Revvy

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Move your spice additions to the last 5 minutes, or flameout if you want any spice aroma to remain. You really want to boil away all those volatile oils.

And try to use the freshest spices possible- In fact shave your nutmeg and cinnamon yourself right when you are going to add it. Even use fresh ginger over powdered.

Also don't hesitate to consider adding more spices at priming (especially if you are bottle priming-just boil it with your priming sugar and strain.)

I have a brown ale made with ginger snaps added to the mash tun, here.

I added 1.5 ounces of ginger to my priming sugar boil.





As you can see it has a nice straw color as opposed to the clear you are used to. It smelled amazingly like ginger.



It came out fantastic.
 
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shafferpilot

shafferpilot

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I keg, so I was planning on keeping the adding so spice tea trick in my back pocket if i need it, perhaps even after carbing if need be. Honestly, I don't want much aroma at all, just a hint of the flavors left on the tongue after swallowing. I'll report back in a couple months as to how it turned out :)
 

bjl110

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Sounds great! +1 on freshest possible spices. In cooking you can get away with preground cinnamon, but the powdered Ginger and nutmeg don't come close to the real stuff. Also keep in mind that, like garlic, Ginger mellows the more you cook it. If you don't want all that much Ginger flavor, maybe consider crystalized Ginger. It has a sweeter mellowed flavor. It is $$$ at the grocery(the McCormick stuff), but if you are lucky enough to know of a bulk food place, they usually have it much cheaper.

Be sure to keep us posted. That kind of thing isn't my style, but my swmbo loves it. Always looking for recipes that appeal to her. Less nagging about bills from brewing that way! :)
 
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shafferpilot

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Well, just tansferred to secondary. Finished at 1.025. Seems way too bittered knocking the sweetness right out of it. Of course it's still far too green and yeasty to be sure... we shall see...
 
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