Over the last few weeks it's safe to say that i’ve been struggling to come up with some new ides for my brews, maybe this in part due to the fact my recent brews have been pretty simple but i’ve been playing around with my recipes.
If you’re anything like me, you’re eager to try something new. Here are a few suggestions that if you follow should re-ignite your creative flair and start you on the journey of creating new and exciting beers.
Ok, so it might not be in-keeping with the Reinheitsgebot but a quick trip to the supermarket or rummage in your pantry can take what could be a simple beer and move it to the realms of exciting and pushing the boundaries.
A brief walk through my kitchen and I came across some orange, lemon, limes, blueberries, sweet potatoes, cucumber and some butternut squash, coffee & tea, All of which can be used in your next beer. Granted, It’ll take a little bit of playing around with flavours especially when you throw in some herbs and spices but finding that magical combination is priceless.
I’m sure you’re aware that the flavour of a beer will change over time and there are a few different ways you can age but also add additional flavour to your beer.
Take a quick stroll around your local bottle shop/ tap room you’ll quickly find some sort of aged beer. My bet is you’ll find some sort of whiskey/ bourbon or rum oak aged beers. This means that the brewer put their beer in an oak barrel which previously contained some kind of spirit and left it there for a long period (normally a year) to infuse some of the characteristics from the wood in the barrel and the spirit that it previously contained.
Ageing beers can take a very long time and also set you back a few hundred pounds/ dollars to pick up a barrel. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a barrel, make sure you enjoy it but if you can’t, it’s not the end of the world. Most home-brew shops will stock some sort of chips or chunks of chopped up barrels for a small price. If you brought some chips that you’d like to flavour, simply place the desired amount of chips in a bowl with a spirit of your choice and let it soak for 2-3 weeks and then you’re be ready to throw the fermenter to let the wood and spirit work it’s magic.
It’s worth just highlighting that although you can age any beer you like, it’s generally suited to malt forward high ABV beers. For example, Imperial stouts, barleywines etc are good examples of beer styles that love being aged, where as something like an IPA which is very hop forward, might struggle being aged over a long time as the hop aromas will drop out over time.
I have a lot of experience with some bourbon, whiskey & rum soaked chips but I hear some of spirits work really well too such as tequila & gin. Why not give it ago?
At the end of the day, rules are there to be broken. Some of the best beers i’ve tried push the boundaries of what’s normal and as home brewers we have all the freedom to change the norm. If you spend enough time in some forums you’ll find a few people who believe a specific style of beer should only contain certain flavours & ingredients. If you’re entering competitions that makes sense however I think there’s a lesson to be had when you swap out ingredients or change the process. For example, I’ve always done at least a 60 minute boil and I hear some people out there are doing a 30 minute boil, or I’ve heard lots of people are brewing lagers using general ale yeast. This is exciting!
Ok, so if you’re stuck trying to find something new to do with your brews, give one, two or even all three of these suggestions ago and let us know how it goes.
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