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Bear Creek Malt Supply Blog
16 Herbs and Spices to add Flavor and Aroma to your Homebrew
Early beers were made from not hops, but roots and herbs. Just because we are not brewing medieval beers anymore doesn’t mean we have to stop brewing with herbs and spices. Many of the attributes of modern hops can also be achieved using the right herbs and spices. And many up and coming craft beers, such as Grapefruit IPA, uses the right hops in combination with herbs and spices to get that great flavor profile. Here is a list of the herbs and spices we carry and how they can be used to enhance your brews!
Bitter Orange Peel – One of the most popular herbs for brewing beer, they are used by many domestic breweries to duplicate Belgian beer styles. Not truly a bitter herb, they add zesty notes of citrus. Pares well with Cascade and Citra style hops.
Cacao Nibs – This is a must for any brown ale, porter or stout. May add some bitter tones depending on when it is added to the boil.
Cardamom Seed – This distinctive spice is from the ginger family which flavor has been described as a “spicy cola” and combines well with coriander, cumin and orange peel. Typically used in Belgian and Holiday beer styles.
Chicory Root – Commonly ground and used as a coffee substitute for dark styles of beer including porter and stout.
Cinnamon Sticks – One to three sticks with five minutes left in the boil schedule will offer a warm and spicy flavor and aroma. Typically used in holiday ales and ciders.
Coriander Seed – Adds a lemony flavor and spice that pairs well with cacao nibs and cloves in dark beer style including porter and stout. Also widely used in Belgian style beers.
Dried Ginger Root – Offers a sweet aroma yet has an intense and hot flavor.
Dried Mugwort – From the Middle Ages and predates the use of hops in beer. Adds a sage like flavor. Has a potent flavor and should not be used as an equal replacement to hops. The original antiseptic of beer.
Dried Wormwood – Also from the Middle Ages, has a distinct scent of fresh cut hay and vanilla. Used to add bitterness in beer. Has potent bittering effect and should not be used as an equal replacement to hops.
Grapefruit Peel – Adds sweet and tangy citrus flavor to beer. Pares well with refreshing summertime style beers, and also hoppy beers such as an IPA.
Lemon Peel – Adds citrus / lemon flavor and aroma to beer. Also pares well with refreshing summertime style beers, and wheat beers such as Hefeweizen.
Lime Peel – Sweeter than lemon peel, adds citrus flavor and aroma to beer. Commonly used in wheat and Belgian style beers. But is currently popular in a wide variety of beers ranging from lager to ale.
Paradise Seed – This little seed packs a big punch. Adds a peppery zing that also has citrusy notes and an earthy pine aroma.
Sweet Orange Peel – Sweeter than bitter orange peel, often pared with bitter orange peel to add citrusy tones to beer.
Tangerine Peel – Similar to orange peel, adds sweet but tangy tones to beer. Pares well refreshing summertime style beers.
Vanilla Beans – Often described as pure, spicy and delicate, frequently pared with porters and stouts.
All these herbs and spices will attribute a different flavor and aroma profile depending on at which stage of the brewing process they are added. Most herbs and spices are added to the end of the boil as to impart their distinct flavor and aroma. The freshness of the herb or spice you use in your beer will greatly affect how well their flavor and aroma comes through. Our organic line of herbs and spices (denoted by “organic”) are the freshest you will find anywhere!