More brewers are expanding their ingredient horizons and exploring the world of herbs, spices and teas during the brewing process. Mastering these complex flavor profiles can produce a wide selection of precisely balanced, rounded and smooth beer infusions, but where to begin?
For some advice, we turned to Alexander Gourmet Beverages. With over 35 years experience (and six years working with the craft beer industry), Alexander Gourmet’s Founder Dave Elliott is an award winning tea master and pioneer in the specialty private label tea manufacturing industry. Having developed hundreds of private label tea programs over the years, the company is experienced in sourcing specialists for herbs, spices and teas.
According to Alexander Gourmet, here are 28 herbs and spices to consider for your next recipe with a quick note on the flavor profile and the beer style it complements best. We’ll back tomorrow to do the same with teas.
Anise. Imparts a strong black licorice flavor. Adds spice and character to IPA’s, stouts or tripels.
Chamomile flowers. Dried chamomile leaves are slightly bittersweet with a note of apple and pleasantly aromatic. Pairs well with pale ales, American IPA, Hefeweizen, wheat beers and most hopped and dry-hopped ales.
Cardamom. Cardamom has a strong, unique taste with an intense resinous fragrance. Infuses well with a variety of beer styles including Belgian ales, stouts and other robustly flavored beers.
Chilis. Crushed dried red chili peppers add a pungent flavor to bitter ales, British style pale ales and yeasty Belgian beers. Brewing a tea of crushed peppers allows you to control the heat and avoid sediment in the beer.
Cinnamon. Its warm tasting, slightly spicy and sweet flavor is extremely aromatic. Pairs well with lighter lagers to heavier and Belgian ales.
Cloves. Infuses a pungent and sweet flavor with a slightly bitter astringent overtone. Packs a punch of heat for Weizenbier and Belgian ales.
Coriander. Infuses a spicy quality with hints of citrus and floral overtones. Pairs well with Belgian white beers, Saisons and simple ales.
Fennel seeds. The savory anise flavor imparts a licorice taste and aroma to porters and stouts.
Fenugreek seeds. Imparts a delicate maple flavor to stouts, porters and Belgian beers.
Ginger root pieces. Imparts citrus overtones with a spicy kick to finish. Pairs well with Belgian ales.
Ginseng. Provides a bitter-spicy flavor with earthy overtones to American pale ales, stouts and fruity beers.
Hibiscus flowers. Imparts a sour and slightly bitter flavor with sweet and fruity notes. Pairs well with dry hopped pale ales.
Lavender petals. Adds a distinctive floral taste with a hint of mint and rosemary. Lavender complements blonde ales, sour beers and Saisons.
Lemongrass. Infuse a citric quality with hints of lemon zest and mint and noticeable grassy notes. Compliments beers hopped with a citrus character.
Juniper berries. Adds a tart and sharp resinous-piney flavor with hints of citrus. Crush for a pungent cedar aroma.
Lemon peels. Adds an intense citrus aroma and flavor. Adds a punch to pale beers, Belgian beers and wheat beers.
Licorice root. Infuses an intense, sharp and pungent sweet flavor in dark beers such as porters and stouts
Lime peel. Adds an intense citrus aroma, tang and flavor blast to light lagers.
Peppercorns. The spicy bold characteristic complements and amplifies the natural peppery quality found in Belgian yeasts.
Peppermint. The fragrant leaves have a fresh and cool minty flavor with an intense aroma. Pairs well with porters and lagers.
Sweet orange peel. Sweet orange peel provides a citrusy-sweet and aromatic quality without a metallic flavor. Adds depth to Belgians and strong ales.
Bitter orange peel. Imparts strong citrus and herbal flavors and aromas. Use with Belgian white ales.
Rooibos. African grown herb, rooibos earthy taste adds a spicy note to pale ales and amber ales.
Rosehips. These seedless Rosehips can add fruity notes as well as herbal flavors and aromas adding tartness and a tannic quality to the beer.
Sage. Sage has a strong fragrant aroma and earthy taste that creates a nice contrast with sweet or acidic flavors found in sour beers and Belgian ales
Stevia. A non-fermentable natural herbal sweetener used to flavor beers on the back-end to American hops and rice beer.
Tumeric. Adds a subtle earthy spice to Belgian ales and stouts.
Yerba mate. The earthiness adds bold flavors to American pale ales, wheat beers and stouts.