While I was talking to Bob, Clay Avenue Cellars, he gave me some great tips on flavoring my beer. I wanted to share some of these ideas with you and yes, I have tried one of his suggestions and actually my husband finally used one too.
(Here is the first tip he gave me and I actually tried it with one of the “kits” I purchased from him). Add specialty malts. You don’t have to be bre3wing all- grain to experiment with small amounts of specialty grains. All you have to do is soak the grains in 170 degree water for about 20 minutes – 1 hour (depending on the intensity of the flavor you want) before you brew your main beer. I followed this advice when I made my recent chocolate, coffee, vanilla porter. I only soaked my grains for about 15 minutes and then addend that water to my kit ingredients. I added 1 large vanilla bean when I placed the beer into the primary fermenter and have not decided if I will add more vanilla when I rack it today into the secondary or not.
Another option is to use fruit or spice extracts. You can brew any basic ale or wheat beer and make it into an Oberon clone or add lime extract for a different flavor. Flavor extract is not like a cooking extract and you can find these in most beer stores. You can also add some fruit like an orange but you still need the extract because the fruit will not give enough flavor to make your efforts worthwhile. My husband has used the zest of an orange for his orange wheat beer and I kept encouraging him to add some extract too if he really wanted the flavor to pop a bit more. After about 3 batches, he finally listened 🙂
Yeast is a crucial part of brewing beer and so is having the correct yeast. Sometimes kits will supply you with some low end yeast but it really does pay to pick up a few different packs of good quality yeast at the brew store of your choosing and keep it on hand. There is a pretty good shelf life to the yeast as long as it’s stored properly in the frig. Paying attention to your yeast will be the difference between a good tasting beer and one that has poor character or lacks mouth feel (I know I’m really getting the hang of the brew lingo).
Happy Brewing. Enjoy!!!! For comments/questions email firstname.lastname@example.org