Author Topic: how to add herbs for flavors  (Read 1237 times)

Offline cptnpenguin

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how to add herbs for flavors
« on: March 05, 2015, 07:54:58 PM »
I'm about to start my 3rd batch of brew ever (2nd one, a bpa, is finishing up it's 2nd week in the primary) and I'm looking to do a saison and I wanted to add some lemon balm.  Lemon balm is a leafy green herb in the mint family with a nice lemony citrusy flavor that I think will work nicely.  My question is, when is the best time to add this, at the end of the boil?  when I pitch the yeast? some other time?  And also, for something like that, how much should I use for a 5 gallon batch?

Offline pete b

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Re: how to add herbs for flavors
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2015, 08:01:06 PM »
I'm about to start my 3rd batch of brew ever (2nd one, a bpa, is finishing up it's 2nd week in the primary) and I'm looking to do a saison and I wanted to add some lemon balm.  Lemon balm is a leafy green herb in the mint family with a nice lemony citrusy flavor that I think will work nicely.  My question is, when is the best time to add this, at the end of the boil?  when I pitch the yeast? some other time?  And also, for something like that, how much should I use for a 5 gallon batch?
You could try adding it at flameout. That might capture some flavor and aroma without adding too much grassy or medicinal flavor that boiling it might. Then you could taste your gravity samples and perhaps make a little lemon balm tea to add before bottling if the flavor isn't there. If your adding it fresh I guess I would try a cup or two freshly chopped or bruised.
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Offline denny

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Re: how to add herbs for flavors
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2015, 09:08:27 PM »
I'd avoid heating it at all.  I'd add to secondary.  You could add as is, chopped, chopped vacuum sealed frozen and thawed, or as a tincture made with vodka.  There are a number of methods to choose from in "Experimental Homebrewing".
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Offline cptnpenguin

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Re: how to add herbs for flavors
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2015, 10:27:04 PM »
When exactly is flameout?  Sorry for being a noob.

Offline denny

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Re: how to add herbs for flavors
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2015, 10:53:32 PM »
When exactly is flameout?  Sorry for being a noob.

Hey, everybody was once!  Flameout is when you turn off the heat after boiling your wort.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: how to add herbs for flavors
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2015, 11:48:19 PM »
Have you cooked or made tea with it before? If so, what procedure did you use and how did you like the flavor impact? That's the rule of thumb I use for trying to figure out how to handle ingredients I'm adding to beer. It it likes heat, then I add it with 5 minutes left in the boil, or at flameout followed by a short steep at hot temps before chilling. If it's more delicate, then I treat it like dry hops and add it to the fermenter at the tail end of fermentation.
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Offline mbarnaby

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Re: how to add herbs for flavors
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2015, 01:09:57 AM »
I'd avoid heating it at all.  I'd add to secondary.  You could add as is, chopped, chopped vacuum sealed frozen and thawed, or as a tincture made with vodka.  There are a number of methods to choose from in "Experimental Homebrewing".

agreed, avoid heat, add to secondary as if you where dry hopping.

Offline cptnpenguin

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Re: how to add herbs for flavors
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2015, 02:31:40 AM »
I'll try the tea test. Also, think it would be ok to put it in the last 5 or so days of the primary? I don't have a secondary right now,  just the bottles.


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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: how to add herbs for flavors
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2015, 01:34:53 PM »
I'll try the tea test. Also, think it would be ok to put it in the last 5 or so days of the primary? I don't have a secondary right now,  just the bottles.


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that's fine. I would wait till the ferment is pretty much done and final gravity is reached. then add the herbs.
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Offline cptnpenguin

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Re: how to add herbs for flavors
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2015, 01:39:21 PM »
How long should they sit in there before I bottle?


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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: how to add herbs for flavors
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2015, 01:41:46 PM »
How long should they sit in there before I bottle?


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let taste and smell be your guide. but also arouind 5-7 days would be my bet.
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Offline pete b

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Re: how to add herbs for flavors
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2015, 02:08:51 PM »
I'd avoid heating it at all.  I'd add to secondary.  You could add as is, chopped, chopped vacuum sealed frozen and thawed, or as a tincture made with vodka.  There are a number of methods to choose from in "Experimental Homebrewing".
After thinking about this I came to the same conclusion. When I thought of lemonbalm my mind went to lemonbalm tea wich is steeped in near boiling water for ten minutes or so. That corresponds to flameout but the problem is, although that gives great flavor I think it will have an adverse color impact and might not give so much aroma, which I think is what your looking for. I would add to primary after fermentation is about done. I make lemonbalm water in the summer by simply chopping it and putting in a pitcher of water in the fridge for a day. The flavor and aroma are very nice and its super refreshing. I think this could go well in a saison. Good luck!
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: how to add herbs for flavors
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2015, 04:12:20 PM »
I don't have specific experience with lemon balm but I do grow a couple varieties of mint at home so if it is in the mint family it is likely very similar in how it will respond in beer. You can use it in a hot or cold steep. Heat accelerates extraction of the flavor but you also risk losing a lot of that aroma to boil off or being driven out during fermentation.

Personally I would add it to the fermentor after fermentation ends and let it steep until you like the flavor. I would taste daily and remove once you are happy with the flavor. Like Pete I use my mint to make flavored water by steeping mint in water in the fridge for a day. If the mint sits too long in the water then it will become aggressively minty and slightly vegetal. You don't want it to start tasting grassy or vegetal so tasting daily is the best guide. Expect to use quite a bit so you can get good flavor extraction before it starts to get vegetal or grassy.
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Offline pete b

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Re: how to add herbs for flavors
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2015, 05:06:26 PM »
I don't have specific experience with lemon balm but I do grow a couple varieties of mint at home so if it is in the mint family it is likely very similar in how it will respond in beer. You can use it in a hot or cold steep. Heat accelerates extraction of the flavor but you also risk losing a lot of that aroma to boil off or being driven out during fermentation.

Personally I would add it to the fermentor after fermentation ends and let it steep until you like the flavor. I would taste daily and remove once you are happy with the flavor. Like Pete I use my mint to make flavored water by steeping mint in water in the fridge for a day. If the mint sits too long in the water then it will become aggressively minty and slightly vegetal. You don't want it to start tasting grassy or vegetal so tasting daily is the best guide. Expect to use quite a bit so you can get good flavor extraction before it starts to get vegetal or grassy.
+1 to needing a lot more cold steeping. it helps to chop or crush it with a mortar and pestle. I find that I don't get any vegetal flavor cold steeping even if left in for several days but do get it when making hot tea.
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Offline cptnpenguin

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Re: how to add herbs for flavors
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2015, 05:25:45 PM »
When you say quite a bit, for a 5 gallon batch like a very hardy dense handful or two?  And just the leaves or stalks as well?