Author Topic: Spices for Winter Warmer - boil or steep?  (Read 1675 times)

Offline erockrph

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Spices for Winter Warmer - boil or steep?
« on: October 25, 2013, 11:11:13 AM »
So I'm planning on brewing my first winter warmer is a few days. I'm looking for something in the vein of Harpoon's Winter Warmer - a moderate gravity drinker, as opposed to a high-gravity sipper. I'm going to be spicing it with cinnamon and nutmeg, and I'm considering a touch of vanilla as well.

Normally I spice my meads and beers after primary fermentation is complete, but I'm looking for more of a mulled cider character from the cinnamon and nutmeg. I was thinking of adding the cinnamon and nutmeg at about 10 minutes before flameout, then adding a vanilla bean or two in secondary and racking off when the vanilla level hits the right balance.

Anyone have any thoughts or recommendations? I have some good quality whole nutmeg and ceylon cinnamon sticks, so I'm wondering how much of each to add to the boil to get a significant spice level without overdoing it.  I was also debating whether to boil some of my runnings down to a syrup in the vein of a scotch ale to get some caramelly notes, but I'm leaning more towards an ESB-like base with English Dark Crystal instead. Here's the recipe I have planned at the moment:

Title: Winter Warmer

Brew Method: BIAB
Style Name: Holiday/Winter Special Spiced Beer
Boil Time: 60 min
Batch Size: 3.5 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 4 gallons
Boil Gravity: 1.054
Efficiency: 80% (brew house)

STATS:
Original Gravity: 1.062
Final Gravity: 1.018
ABV (standard): 5.75%
IBU (tinseth): 25.57
SRM (morey): 18.51

FERMENTABLES:
6.5 lb - United Kingdom - Maris Otter Pale (90.4%)
6 oz - United Kingdom - Dark Crystal 80L (5.2%)
3 oz - United Kingdom - Extra Dark Crystal 160L (2.6%)
2 oz - United Kingdom - Chocolate (1.7%)

HOPS:
0.4 oz - Magnum, Type: Pellet, AA: 12.2, Use: Boil for 60 min, IBU: 25.57

MASH GUIDELINES:
1) Infusion, Temp: 154 F, Time: 60 min, Amount: 17 qt, Sacc Rest

YEAST:
White Labs - London Ale Yeast WLP013
Eric B.

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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Spices for Winter Warmer - boil or steep?
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2013, 12:00:08 PM »
I just tapped my pumpkin ale which is the first spiced beer I've made in a few years.  I add the spices to the boil at 10 minutes before flameout as you are planning and much prefer that method to spicing in the keg/fermenter.

I don't have my notes here, unfortunately, so I can't tell you how much spice I used.  The spicing is mild and the beer actually tastes pretty good.  I gave up on spiced beers for awhile after trying spicing in the keg.  Just didn't like that flavor.

If I remember, I'll look up the spice amounts when I get home.
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Offline jds357

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Re: Spices for Winter Warmer - boil or steep?
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2013, 12:00:24 PM »
I just made a pumpkin spice beer and had great success by adding spices at flame out and a smaller amount again at kegging.  Great aroma and mild flavor was the result of that.  Your recipe looks good.   

Offline goschman

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Re: Spices for Winter Warmer - boil or steep?
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2013, 03:20:33 PM »
My harvest ale is what I would consider lightly spiced compared to a lot however it is definitely noticeable. For 5 gallons I use 1 tsp of ground ceylon cinammon and 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg in addition to ginger and cloves. If I remember correctly this is about 1/2 as much as I have used in the past for more of a traditional "spiced" flavor. This addition is at 5 minutes remaining and seems to work well for me. I also add 1 oz of orange zest.

The base is an amber ale with baked squash (butternut, acorn, pumpkin) added to the mash. So it's basically a pumpkin beer although I call it a "harvest ale"...haha
« Last Edit: October 25, 2013, 03:24:17 PM by goschman »
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Offline bigchicken

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Re: Spices for Winter Warmer - boil or steep?
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2013, 07:48:29 AM »
I prefer unspiced winter warmers, myself. A higher mash temp and the use of some interesting grains can give the subtle taste that there may be a bit of spice. But I like my warmers to "warm" me. So they're higher in alcohol.
When I make spiced beers, I always add the spices at flameout. I feel spices are all depending on personal preference. I think your recipe looks solid without spices, so I'd go lightly on them. You won't have the alcohol or IBUs to mask them if you overdo them.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Spices for Winter Warmer - boil or steep?
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2013, 08:19:20 AM »
Is there ever a reason to subject your spice additions to boiling?  I don't know one.  If you want more contact time with the spices, it seems that adding spices at flameout with an extended stand in the kettle following the boil would be best.  Am I incorrect?
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Re: Spices for Winter Warmer - boil or steep?
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2013, 09:07:31 AM »
Is there ever a reason to subject your spice additions to boiling?  I don't know one.  If you want more contact time with the spices, it seems that adding spices at flameout with an extended stand in the kettle following the boil would be best.  Am I incorrect?

I agree with you, Martin.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Spices for Winter Warmer - boil or steep?
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2013, 03:27:17 PM »
Is there ever a reason to subject your spice additions to boiling?  I don't know one.  If you want more contact time with the spices, it seems that adding spices at flameout with an extended stand in the kettle following the boil would be best.  Am I incorrect?

I find that the character of certain spices change as you cook them. Cinnamon in particular. Uncooked cinnamon seems drier with a sharper, more peppery spice that I get more towards the tip of my tongue. Cooked cinnamon comes off more smoothly warm and seems to be more in the sides and back of the tongue. It let's more apparent sweetness through as well. Sort of like cinnamon Red Hots vs mulled hot cider. I'm shooting for the latter here.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Spices for Winter Warmer - boil or steep?
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2013, 06:00:44 PM »
I concur with the change in spice flavor with heating. However, is the boil the place to do it to the degree you desire?  I've heard of chefs that pan roast some spices before cooking to help release or refine their flavors. Maybe some pan heating is needed?
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Spices for Winter Warmer - boil or steep?
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2013, 10:01:05 PM »
I concur with the change in spice flavor with heating. However, is the boil the place to do it to the degree you desire?  I've heard of chefs that pan roast some spices before cooking to help release or refine their flavors. Maybe some pan heating is needed?

Fair enough. Since I'm going for a mulled spice type effect, maybe a flameout addition and "spice stand" might get me closest what I'm looking for. Certainly does the trick with hops.
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Spices for Winter Warmer - boil or steep?
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2013, 05:24:34 AM »
Two words: Vodka tincture.

Soaking stuff in vodka and adding to the finished beer on bottling/kegging day has worked wonders for jillions of people including myself.  Soak your spices, fruits, veggies, whatever, in a couple of ounces of vodka for a few hours or overnight, then add just a little to your beer, and if not enough, add more to taste.  Done.

Or if you want the best of both worlds, add some at flameout and some from vodka.  Your bases are then covered.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2013, 05:27:09 AM by dmtaylor »
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Spices for Winter Warmer - boil or steep?
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2013, 06:57:40 AM »
Two words: Vodka tincture.

This works, if you don't mind the flavor of the raw uncooked spices.

I don't care for the tincture, myself, but it works for others.

This "spice stand" is an interesting approach. 
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Re: Spices for Winter Warmer - boil or steep?
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2013, 07:37:46 AM »
Two words: Vodka tincture.

This works, if you don't mind the flavor of the raw uncooked spices.

I don't care for the tincture, myself, but it works for others.

This "spice stand" is an interesting approach.

I've been wondering about a hybrid approach. What if you toasted the spices in a dry pan and THEN made a tincture from them? this should wake up the flavours in the same way as cooking, maybe even a bit better and still give you the control of a tincture. something to try anyway.
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Spices for Winter Warmer - boil or steep?
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2013, 08:52:29 AM »
Cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla probably wont benefit much from toasting in a pan.

The key is fresh grating for cinnamon and nutmeg and fresh pods for the vanilla.

I don't use spices too often, but I would treat them like hops, with a charge at the end of the boil and during conditioning. If anything, this allows you to use a light hand on brewday and fine-tune before serving.
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Offline dkfick

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Re: Spices for Winter Warmer - boil or steep?
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2013, 09:14:28 AM »
I find you get different flavors from the spices if you throw them in during the last 5 mins or at flame out.  I like some of these flavors.  I usually will add some spices at flameout and then add some more during secondary (or the keg) for some fresher spice flavors.  This way I get both types of flavors layered...or at least I do in my head... ;D
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