Spices for Beer Brewing: A Personal Touch for Your Brewing Passion

With the explosive popularity of cooking shows on television we are becoming a country of foodies.  There is a never before seen demand for gourmet food, and also gourmet beers.  Chefs both professional and amateur are searching for ways to make the perfect food and beer combinations.  There are infinite books and recipes for the home brewer to follow, which produce the perfect beer to compliment every dish.  Like any artisan though, as we become more proficient at our craft, we want to add our own personal touch not just follow a recipe.  A fantastic way to do this is by using spices and herbs to flavor your brew.  Sam Adams® has embraced this idea with great success having seasonal, holiday, & flavored beers in their repertoire.

For centuries master brewers have searched for unique and novel flavors and seasonings to add to their signature brews.  Beyond hops, barley (or wheat), yeast and water they have scoured the natural world searching for that je ne sais quoi or perfect something to complete and compliment the flavor palate of their brew.

Full-bodied dark holiday beers are often spiced with chilies, fruits, herbs, and even chocolate.  Belgians have a history of using black pepper, coriander, grains of paradise and orange peel in their famous wheat beers.  Colonial Americans developed fall beers with the rich aromas and flavors of apples and pumpkin pie.

You probably have a vast group flavor options sitting in your spice rack, but before you brew cayenne and cinnamon into your next beer try to imagine the flavors working together.  A great way to experiment is to add a small amount of the spices you are thinking of working into a tea of sorts using an already finished beer.  This should at least give you an idea if they will work together.

Remember one last thing; fresh whole herbs and spices work much better than dried stale or powdered ones.  So consider growing a beer garden, and have the cream of the crop to choose from!  Here is a great list of spices to flavor beer with.  Enjoy!

4 Responses to “Spices for Beer Brewing: A Personal Touch for Your Brewing Passion”

  1. howsitgrowin says:

    Hey david hydro, digging the blog as usual. I too brew, and enjoy finding new spices for my beers. My girlfriend and I recently worked on a german Witbeer which we added star anise seeds and bitter orange (A special thanks to Grizz @ Brewcraft for the recipe). We have made a few german whites, but this one was something special. I just transplanted my hops vines, I’v got a Centennial and a Cascade hop, getting prepared for an IPA. I am doing these in coco fiber under a 1000 watt on a 4×4. I like to keep my fermenters in the grow room to give the plants a boost of CO2 from the fermenters (I’d suggest keeping the the carboys in the boxes they came in to keep them from getting skunky). I haven’t harvested my first round of hops yet, but I can tell you that they aren’t hard to grow. I’d love to hear more about your brewing experience.

    • davidhydro says:

      Thanks Rosh,

      Just keep checking back for more growing and brewing stories and advice. Thanks for the kind words. I bet the Witbeer was delicious! What else is on tap from your brews?

  2. juan says:

    I want to start brewing beer, I would like to try using different spices in the recipe. My question is when would be the proper time to add them? If you add them at different times how do you know when its going to affect the smell, or overall taste?

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