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Adding Other Stuff to Beer

I was just wondering how one goes about adding other stuff – meaning things other than grains, hops, yeast, and the other normal components – to one’s beer.

One of the last two batches I brewed, which caused me to pause and reconsider how I go about brewing, was meant to be a spruce beer. I used a recipe I found online as a guide. It called for adding spruce tips not only to the boiling wort, but to the fermenter as well, as if dry hopping. I soaked the spruce tips in a sanitizer solution first, rinsed them, and then added them to the fermenter. It did not go well. Instead of the pleasant piney/citrusy flavor and aroma I was expecting, the beer tastes as if I put a small dead mouse in every bottle. It is unspeakably foul, and it has not improved with age.

Obviously I did something wrong, but I’m at a loss to determine what. Sanitizer should have done the trick, right? I know that there are plenty of interesting things added to beer. What is the generally accepted method for doing so, while preventing the brew from acquiring a dead-mouse flavor?

I was never a fan of the pine/spruce flavor in my beer. I made the mistake of trying a beer once, I want to say it was Sam Adams Alpine Spring seasonal. Tasted like you were chewing on a pine branch (and I have unintentionally tasted those before - I work construction).

I do know that usually the recommended procedure is to soak whatever you’re going to be adding in Vodka before adding to the fermenter. I don’t know if soaking it in a sanitizer could have done bad things or not. Aside from my first brew where I added cocoa nibs and didn’t know any better at the time, I use Vodka when I brew. A shot for me and a shot in the airlock. Anything that gets added post boil (like the cocoa nibs) gets soaked in vodka (and another shot for me). :mrgreen:

Vodka… that makes sense. I wonder if the sanitizer just wasn’t up to the task, but vodka would have saved it. Thanks, I will remember that.

Is it getting worse with age? If yes, it may be due to an infection, but if not it is more likely nothing to do with something “getting past the sanitizer” and instead you might just be tasting bad spoiled spruce tips or a lot of sanitizer that they soaked up.

I’ve never tried to use spruce tips, but I’ve added a lot of flavoring additives such as fruit and spices to beer. In general, I just add them into the secondary and make sure I give the beer a long time to ensure that if something did hitch a ride in, it has finished it’s work before I bottle. The only times I’ve ever had infections, it was due to adding fresh fruit to beer, but it never ruined the batches. It did add some interesting “funk” to the flavor.

While I’m not a fan of Spruce Beer, I’ve brewed them a few times and never experienced that sort of issue. Not sure how much you used, but typically you would use 1-2 oz of spruce tips for a 5 gal batch in the boil. I wouldn’t recommend the later addition to the fermenter. I have also used dandelions, sweet woodruff, horehound, and rhubarb without the off flavor you describe.
I agree with rebuiltcellars advice. If it gets worse I would start expecting infection.

No, the dead mouse thing has been constant. I was hoping it would improve, but it never did. It could very well be the sanitizer. I rinsed them, but I didn’t account for capillary action. Nor did I think that sanitizer could wind up tasting like this. Next time, VODKA.

Thanks! :slight_smile:

Not sure I see the need for sanitizing every addition, but I will say that if it wasn’t for the cost, vodka would be the best possible sanitizer.

Out of curiosity, why did you rinse them after sanitizing and with what did you rinse them? Tap water?

I almost spit my beer. :lol:

Call it “Strange Brew”

Tap water, yes, but tap water that goes through a filtration system. I don’t trust claims that you don’t have to rinse off the sanitizer. It’s a powerful enough toxin to kill bacteria, which are very difficult to kill. I don’t want to ingest even small amounts of unpleasant stuff like that.

I almost spit my beer. :lol:

Call it “Strange Brew”[/quote][quote=“JMcK”][quote=“Djehuty”]the beer tastes as if I put a small dead mouse in every bottle. [/quote]
I almost spit my beer. :lol: [/quote]

I did spit my beer. :slight_smile:

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