Due to an ever-increasing explosion of craft breweries opening their doors, commercial brewers need to provide products that are strongly unique in flavours that help them stand out from the rest.
In order to achieve certain flavours (and have some FUN while doing it!) many brewers are resorting to the addition of supplementary ingredients such as herbs, spices, tea, flowers and fruits. We at R&B Brewing Co. seek to go beyond standard approaches to create recipes using both traditional and non-traditional techniques and ingredients. We’ve put these methods to use in a variety of our limited release beers such as our Lavender Saison and Spruce Tip IPA. Using adjunct ingredients is both a science & an art and I believe it’s very important to use both!
Some key considerations:
- Pick an ingredient that will have complimentary or balancing flavours to the style you are brewing. Try to avoid ingredients that will heavily clash or over-power the base beer
- Aim for added ingredient to be perceivable without it being under or over-whelming
- Find a method that is controllable, consistent & re-creatable
- Use sanitary procedures
- Perform sensory analysis on all of your trials, and write down your findings!
We've found that a simple "tea" infusion of herbs, spices and flowers post fermentation and prior to packaging works best for us.
Through trial and error, we’ve found that a simple “tea” infusion of herbs, spices and flowers post fermentation and prior to packaging works best for us. For home-brewers this would mean right before racking into a keg or bottling bucket. During this stage the base beer won’t be changing much in flavour and you’ll have a better idea as to how much character of the added ingredient you’ll need.
Try the following method:
- Pull off 5 x equal volume samples of your post-fermentation base beer (we use 1L growlers- if you have small batches, scale down as needed)
- Boil water in a saucepan for 20 mins to de-aerate and sterilize
- Turn off heat and let water stand for 10 mins to cool down as herbs and flowers have delicate characteristics that can easily be blown off
- Measure 5 separate amounts of your added ingredient with a range from a low to high concentration. Some ingredients are more potent than others and won’t need a very high concentration in order to perceive them
- Mix your weighed samples with enough hot water to cover the ingredient and steep for 5 mins. Immediately cool sample by putting in fridge or ice bath.
- Once cool, mix tea sample with beer samples
- Taste and pick which concentration works best for you
- Once satisfied on a concentration, scale up to your full batch volume and repeat method, this time mixing the tea sample into your keg or bottling bucket.
- (For Commerical breweries, brew your tea in a sanitized yeast brink. Heavily purge your tea with CO2 before infusing to the Bright Tank!)
Allan Cukier - Head Brewer
R&B Brewing Co.
Vancouver, BC, Canada