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When do you add "additives" to your home brew?

So I am fresh off the newbie boat and haven’t quite gotten my homebrewing chops down yet; however, I would like to be prepared for when I decide to step away from the extract kits and start brewing my own concoctions. So my question is this, when a person adds an added flavor (such as chocolate, honey, ect.) to their brew, when do they normally do this? I mean would you add it during the wort boiling process? Or would you add it when you start the fermenting process? I am assuming there are probably numerous ways to complete this process, but remember: me + homebrewing = green, so the the simpliest ways would be best for me at the moment. Thanks!

-Michael

It depends on what the “additive” is. Some things are best at the last 5-10 min. of the boil. Others, like the honey you mention, are better added in secondary fermentation. Still others (coffee or liquor, for instance) I prefer to add to taste when I bottle or keg the beer. I cover a lot of this in my book, which I hope will be out in the spring.

Lots of answers will come here. You can add chocolate flavor from chocolate malt, which you either mash or steep. You can also add cocoa powder, chocolate nibs, actual chocolate, and these additions will be added at different times (boil, secondary, etc) depending on which addition we’re talking about.

Actual honey can be added during the boil, but will ferment out not leaving any honey flavor but adding to the OG and eventually to a higher ABV. It can also be added during fermentation to up the ABV. To get extra sweetness, you can mash some Honey malt and that will lend a honey like sweetness flavor to the beer.

Fruit flavorings… again its current form (whole, zest, chopped up, puree, extract) will decide when/how it should be added.

If you haven’t already get a few brewing books and start reading. Keep going on these types of forums, reading, and asking questions. The more knowledge you take in the more it will all make sense and the more comfortable you’ll get making your own recipes and deciding when to add certain additives.

EDIT: Denny beat me too it, but yeah, what he said :cheers:

Here’s a small excerpt from the book that might be helpful…


Flavorings

Flavorings like liquor, fruit, coffee, chocolate, or flavoring extracts can be added at different points in the brewing process to produce different results, also. I feel like most of the ingredients on this category have no place in the kettle and should be added during fermentation or better yet, at bottling or kegging time. By doing that you not only get more of the flavor and aroma from them, it’s easier to gauge the amount to use for the effect you desire.
For fruit, I like to freeze it before adding, which helps break down cell walls and get the most flavor from the fruit. Add the fruit to the secondary fermenter. The general rule of thumb is to use 1 lb. of fruit for each gallon of beer, but for very subtly flavored fruits like blueberries or blackberries you might want to increase that amount. If you feel the need to sanitize the fruit before adding, avoid heating it. That can set the pectin in the fruit and make it a gooey mess in your beer. Many people will soak the addition in vodka to sanitize it. I usually depend on the alcohol content and low pH of the beer to keep things safe and just put the fruit in directly.
For coffee aroma , try “dry beaning”….adding 4-5 oz. of coarsely cracked coffee beans to the fermenter after the activity of primary fermentation has subsided. For coffee flavor (or any of the others in the above list), try adding them when you package the beer. Pour 4 2 oz. samples of the beer (before adding your priming if you’re bottling). Add a different, measured dose of the flavoring to each sample and taste critically. Maybe even have someone else taste, too, so you can find a consensus amount. Then scale the amount of flavoring in the sample you prefer up to the size of your entire batch.

Denny,

Thanks for this information. I am working with a Bavarian Hefeweizen at the moment and am about 1 week into fermenting. My wife is thinking we should split the batch and then add some fruit flavorings such as strawberry or even blackberry. Still trying to get a better grip on when to do this, but your information helps provide a little clarity on the matter.

Thanks!

[quote=“NFCTinken”]Denny,

Thanks for this information. I am working with a Bavarian Hefeweizen at the moment and am about 1 week into fermenting. My wife is thinking we should split the batch and then add some fruit flavorings such as strawberry or even blackberry. Still trying to get a better grip on when to do this, but your information helps provide a little clarity on the matter.

Thanks![/quote]
Make sure your wife realizes that adding fruit to a Bavarian Hefe will NOT produce a fruit-wheat beer like she may be used to. Fruit-wheat beers are fermented using a neutral-acting yeast, like 1056. The banana & clove flavors from a Hefe yeast could clash with the flavor from the fruit. Could still turn out good, but be careful. As you are thinking about flavoring rather than actual fruit or puree, I would try a drop or two in a glass of beer before adding to a bigger volume.

Very good call. I was thinking of doing a honey wheat next and then tinkering with some fruit additions. I agree that it might not work too well with the hefe and would like to keep the character of this beer intact. I agree about adding it in on a smaller scale because easy to say, “This didn’t work for this glass,” then to say “This batch is NOT good!” :slight_smile:

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