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Ways to make an Amber less boring

Hi all,

I’m a pretty big beer enthusiast, and I brewed my own once before (back in 2009). I’m getting back into it with a Brew Share Enjoy kit, which comes with a Block Party Amber beer kit.

Now, Amber Ales are basically the opposite of what I tend to enjoy in beers, but I’m not about to waste the kit, so I’m wondering if there are any simple modifications I could do to make it more interesting. I’m thinking stuff like peppers (jalapeno? red chile?) or bourbon barrel (a la Kentucky BBA).

Has anyone had experience modifying the Block Party Amber kit?

Is it dumb to start modifying right away? Should I just make the dang Amber as written and give it away if I’m not into it?

I also got a 1 gal glass fermenter, so I could potentially split the batch and do a secondary fermentation with peppers/oak in that. That way, if the modifications backfire, I don’t lose the whole shebang.

Anyway, all thoughts/suggestions are welcome! Thanks!

What do you like in beers? Look into that and try to work that in.

You could dry hop it if your into hops. You could buy some DME/LME and hops and make it an Imperial Amber. It’s the holiday season so you could make it a winter warmer with your choice of spices.

My taste is pretty varied, but in general I’m really into stouts and farmhouse/sour ales and saisons. I also like IPAs, but I can’t drink too many of 'em before I get burned out. I lived in MA recently and most enjoyed the IPAs from Treehouse/Hill Farmstead/Trillium/Alchemist, but I also like west coast stuff like Luponic Distortion. Session IPAs are great, too.

An imperial amber could definitely work, I guess!

You could ferment that with a saison yeast, maybe add some cane sugar towards the end of the boil to dry it out as much as possible. A hint of crushed star anise at flameout, maybe some noble hops or goldings at 30 minutes if you had it. Boom! Winter farmhouse amber.

Thanks, that’s a good idea! Keep 'em coming.

Spice it up. Some allspice nutmeg. Ginger

Add chocolate malt and roasted to convert the kit into a stout?

Haha, that’s a pretty radical suggestion for a first (well, second) timer. I like it, though.

I made a simple pale ale with the 5 gallon American Amber ale recipe. Left out the steeping grains and added a half pound of extra light DME and a half pound of Crystal 40L for steeping. Bittered with 1 ounce of Centennial for 60 minutes, 2 ounces Cascade at 20, 1 ounce Cascade a 1 minute.

If I make it again would probably add a quarter to half pound of Crystal 60L.

I crush some black pepper and add it to an amber to make my black pepper ale. I also use some Belgian yeast an ferment warm yo make an Abbey ale out of an amber recipe. You can also hop it like an IPA if you like. The sky’s the limit. Now you got me thinking about making an amber lager

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Why not BBA this kit? Pick up some oak spirals, soak in Bourbon a few days, add to secondary, and bam!

Make it a hoppy amber?

One of my favorite ambers is Denny’s Lake Waldo Amber. NB sells it. The info sheet would give you the hop schedule. There’s another recipe that subs Amarillo for one of the hops in NB’s version. Easy to find online.

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BBAing was my first thought, then the chile thing. Mostly because I have that stuff already and wouldn’t need to buy anything extra.

I’m going to second danny’s suggestion. The Waldo Lake Amber is absolutely awesome. Do dryhop it though with some Centennials and/or Cascades. The recipe won me the Maine Homebrewers Competition last year, and a version is currently on tap at a local brewery (yes, I helped brew it)

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If I end up going the BBA route, what’s the difference between chips, cubes, and spirals? I assume they’re basically in order of ease of use/cleanup?

Surface area/mess, really. I like spirals because I’m not in a hurry, and am lazy. Chips would probably extract faster, but be a bit messier.

Would it be ok to add the cubes (in a muslin bag) to the primary fermentation instead of secondary? I don’t have a secondary vessel yet and I’m not sure I want to add more kit right now.

There would be no problem having the cubes bagged. It would be the same as dry hopping with the hops suspended in a bag. Might need a weight like a sanitized heavy shot glass or marbles to hold the bag under the surface of the beer.

Cool, thanks. I guess I was asking more about timing than the bag (figured that was ok since they’re commonly used). If I’m not planning to do a secondary fermentation (just primary straight to bottling) when should I add the cubes?

Can’t offer solid advice on when to oak. I dry hop when fermentation is complete and the beer is just beginning to clear. Oaking the beer may be somewhat the same except that unlike hops you can pull the oak anytime you think the flavor added is just right.

Edit: Might be hard to pull a bag of oak cubes out of a carboy. Might have to siphon the beer out when you have the flavor you want.

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