Making tinctures with jalapenos and raspberries

I brewed a Blonde Ale a week ago as an entry level beer in hopes of making a future batch for a summer bbq for some of the family members who aren’t craft beer drinkers. I’ve always wanted to mess around with adding adjuncts to the secondary but didn’t want to ruin a full 5 gallon batch. So I picked up a 3 gallon carboy and a couple 1 gallon jugs to split it up. I’m in to hurry to transfer or anything but I was thinking of adding jalapenos to 1 gallon and raspberries to the other 1 gallon and leaving the 3 gallons as it is. What is the best process for adding these ingredients to the secondary? Is it a tincture? Is there a way to taste it by adding the tincture to say a light flavored commercial beer to adjust the flavoring? Is there a perfect amount of time that works best? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

I think you’ll be fine making a jalapeno tincture, but the raspberries will carry enough sugar along that you’ll want to let it ferment out, at which point you might as well add whole fruit. Frozen and thawed seems to work the best. Raspberries bring a lot of acid to the party, so about the most I use is 1#/gallon. You might want to use less until you find out how tart they will make your beer, and adjust from there. Make sure there is plenty of headspace, as they tend to float and trap air, forcing their way up into the neck of a carboy. High potential for large messes.

Using a tincture with the peppers will let you dial in the amount of heat. There’s enough variation in their levels of heat that it’s hard to say what the appropriate amount is, you’ll just have to blend to taste.

I’m wondering if I should just use raspberry flavoring at bottling time instead.

I wouldn’t… To me, it has a really artificial flavor, like raspberry flavored hard candy. But by all means, try some and see for yourself - maybe it’ll work for you.

Yeah I don’t want that fake flavor. I might use a puree like Oregon specialty fruits. I don’t think I’ll need much for 1 gallon.

Oregon fruit puréed are great! Frozen is usually pretty good, too. Try it and let us know what you think.

One thing you may consider is getting a 2gal bucket and adding the fruit in a nylon bag. When you’ve achieved the flavor you’re looking for you can simply remove the bag and take most of the fruit, seeds, etc with it.

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I make a jalapeno cream ale that I really like. Has just enough heat with tons of Jalapeno flavor. This is what i do for a 5 gallon batch. I start by roasting 5 jalapenos in the oven. I slit three of them most of the way down the middle and add to the boil for the final 15 minutes. (not sure if this actually does much but it turned out once so i have not messed with it since.) I then slice and freeze the other two. I thaw them and put them in a bowl with one fresh sliced jalapeno and cover with vodka for two days. I add the peppers and vodka to primary about 2-4 days before kegging. Taking samples until it is a little hotter than i want the final product to be. Works for me.

Does the quality of vodka matter?

I have only used svedka. There is so little vodka going in and it is infused so I would not see it making much of a difference.

I would use cheap vodka… Not necessarily the cheapest swill available but cheap.

I wanted to use 100 proof so I probably spent more on it than I wanted to but if all else fails I have some good pepper infused vodka. I’m experimenting with 3 different jars. One has a habanero sliced in half. One has a jalapeno sliced in half. The last one has a jalapeno sliced in half deseeded and deveined. I’m sure there will different levels of heat from each. Hopefully one that will work.

Each one will work. Perhaps you’ll want to mix them all to get different flavors and heat. One thing you’ll want to do is pour 4, 2 oz samples and add different dose levels to get your ideal flavor/heat.

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I’ve yet to taste test the blonde ale. I used Wyeast 1272 for the first time. Fermented at 64* 2 weeks on Tuesday. I plan on leaving it for 3 weeks before messing with it. That way the vodka has some time to extract the heat from the peppers. I’ll split it between a 3 gallon carboy and two 1 gallon jugs adding fruit to one and the pepper tincture to the other leaving the majority as is.