We have a number of methods to adding flavors to beer. These are not the flavors that are imparted naturally by the malt, hops or yeast, but rather intentional additions such as fruits and spices that give our beers a uniqueness. We use three main methods for adding flavor, sometimes using a single method and something using a combination of two or three.
Method 1: Flameout Additions
Flameout refers to the time just after boiling the wort (wort is what we call the liquid before it actually becomes beer) and before chilling the wort and transferring to the fermenter. We generally boil our wort for 60 minutes. At the end of 60 minutes we turn the heating elements off and prepare to cool the wort. Even though we use electric heating elements, we still refer to the period of time after the boil but before cooling as “flameout”. During this time we’ll add fruit peels such as lemon, lime and orange, adjuncts such as honey and spices such as the pumpkin pie spice we use for our pumpkin beers. Although the wort is not boiling, it is still about 200 degrees F and therefore very good at breaking down and dispersing flavors. Since it’s not boiling, very little aroma is released into the air before the wort is cooled and transferred into the fermenter.
Method 2: Dry-Hopping
Dry-hopping refers to adding hops directly to the fermenter after primary fermentation has subsided. This is a common method for imparting tremendous hop flavors into IPA’s and is used across the industry for such purposes. When adding fruit or vegetables, we sometimes use a similar method of adding directly to the fermenter after primary fermentation. Although we’re not adding hops we still refer to it as “dry-hopping”, but we qualify the expression with whatever we’re adding. For example, we “dry-hop” with whole jalapenos for 5 days to make our jalapeno saison (no hops, just jalapenos).
Method 3: Cold-Crash Extracts
Cold-Crashing refers to a technique wherein the temperature of the fermented beer is brought down to refrigeration temp before the beer is pumped into the brite tank for carbonating. Dropping the temperature puts the yeast into a dormant mode and allows it to drop out of suspension, which makes the beer clearer. Quite often we’ll make fruit extracts and add to the beer during this cold-crashing period. The idea is that our extracts are made with real fruits and therefore have some fermentable sugars in them. If we added the extract at room temperature, we risk fermenting the extract and losing a lot of the flavor. Since the yeast is mostly dormant during cold-crashing, the extract remains un-fermented and delivers real fruit flavor and a bit of sweetness to the beer.
If you make it by our pub and you find something with an interesting flavor addition, feel free to ask us how we did it. We’re happy to share! Cheers!