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Brewing with Spices 101

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With the modern evolution of craft beer and homebrewing, new spiced beers are constantly being made using a range of interesting spices and flavors.   Many Spiced Beers are brewed and consumed during the Winter and Fall seasons.  Our Pumpkin Ale is spiced with our Pumpkin Pie Spice, which includes cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove and other baking spices.  Holiday Ales, like out Mint Chocolate Chip Stout use Cocoa Nibs and Peppermint to bring home that Christmas Feeling in your brew.

 Almost any spice can be successfully used for flavoring beer. Below is a list of some of the most popular spices for brewing:

Paradise Seeds: otherwise known as Alligator pepper, resemble black pepper in taste, but are less pungent and more aromatic.  They are a blend of ginger, cardamom and pepper. This seed contains α-humulene, which is also the primary flavor component of hops.

Coriander: The seed of the cilantro plant. Traditionally used in many beers, especially witbier and saison.  It will provide a complex nutty and citrus flavor that will work well in lighter beer styles. Combined with dried orange peel, it makes the spicy character found in Belgian Witbier.

Sweet Orange Peel: is a dried spice often added to Belgian Witbier along with coriander.  The sweet peel will give a flavor similar to an orange-flavored cognac, while the bitter version is more of a dry orange flavor. Heat will give the best flavor extraction, so add them about 10 minutes before the end of the boil.

Vanilla Beans: produces a creamy vanilla flavor in everything from Stouts to Porters. The beans are best used in secondary fermentation. The alcohol which is present in the secondary will help pull out the vanilla flavors.

Pumpkin Pie Spice : A blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice that can be scaled to any size.  A Baking spice that is used in pumpkin ales and fall and winter seasonals.

Juniper: Usually known as the principal flavoring in gin, it is also used to flavor beer & other beverages. Native Americans have utilized juniper berries for their healing powers & to relieve arthritis. In folk lore, juniper planted outside a front door kept out witches who had to correctly count its needles before entering the house.

 Thanks for reading my website, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

This article was written by “Old Ale Jay” at Adventures in Homebrewing and appears here with the expressed permission of Jay and Adventures in Homebrewing.
Thanks Fellas!  Happy Holidays to you!

With Christmas right around the corner, many people will be brewing with spices. The art of brewing, which dates back to early agricultural activities, could possibly be one of the oldest crafts invented by humans ~ thirsty humans!

Historically, brewers have utilized a variety of spices to enhance the flavor of their beers. Long before hops became the standard ingredient to flavor beer, a blend of spices known as gruit was the primary means of flavoring beer. Often, these spices also acted as a preservative to protect the beer’s flavor.  Some of these early Spices included esoteric herbs such as sweet gale and mugwort, as well as some more familiar spices, such as juniper berries, ginger, cardamom seed, anise seed, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Although the use of these spices tapered off when hops became the norm, home brewers, as well micro breweries and even the large breweries have helped to lead a resurgence in the use of spices in our beer.

Creative Brewmasters, like those at Adventures in Homebrewing, continue to use spices in many classic beers. For example our, Belgian Witbier, is a mix of barley and wheat malt, and is flavored with coriander and orange peel.  Witbiers are also often made with other spices such as black pepper and paradise seeds. OurHoliday Cheer Beer combines the classic taste of honey,cinnamon, ginger andorange peel.

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