When I first began home brewing, I always added ingredients in secondary to give my beer a kick of flavor and personality. With so many festivals so frequently, it was hard to get the flavor that I wanted by just dropping them into secondary for a few weeks, not to mention I always ran out of time. I decided to spend some time learning about tinctures for my cider and beer that would give me the flavor and scent that I needed.
What is a tincture?
Tincture is an infusion created with fruits, spices, flowers, etc. using alcohol. Tinctures cane be made using clear rum or vodka, which fortunately sanitizes the ingredients you use in your brew.
Dried vs. Frozen vs. Fresh
Fresh is always best, but it may not always be readily available because of the season or where you live. For example, when I created my Mango Amber Ale recipe, I anticipated using fresh mangoes in my tincture. Mangoes are hard to find in New York until late spring or summer, so I used the next best thing: frozen mangoes. The beer turned out just fine, but when I recreated it with fresh mangoes, there was a clear difference. With the fresh mangoes, it increased the sweet scent and taste of the beer, whereas the frozen mangoes had more of the scent, not taste.
I’ve heard about home brewers using flavored alcohol, but I can’t imagine it will get the same result as using the real thing. I’ve also come across Amoretti Extracts,which have been very helpful, especially when you make a mistake and need to bring the tincture back to life. For instance, I created a tincture with my jalapeno pineapple cider and added a little too much jalapeno. The substance was too hot for anyone to guzzle down. To bring down the heat, I dissolved Amoretti pineapple extract and dropped it in to balance it out. Voila! Problem solved!
Here is a simple tincture strawberry jalapeno recipe that you can use in your beer or cider. The same process can be used with spices, brown sugar, and nuts.
What you’ll need
-1 16 oz Mason jar (I fill my tinctures half way, 6-8oz)
1. Before making the tincture, make sure the mason jar is clean.
2. Add clean chopped up strawberries in your mason jar.
3. Add 1 clean chopped up jalapeno into the jar.
3. Pour the vodka over the strawberries and jalapeno until they are totally covered. Make sure the ingredients saturate the vodka. I usually use 6-8oz of vodka.
4. Close the jar and store in a dark place for at least 1-2 weeks
5. Test the tincture with your beer or cider and decide how much you’d like to mix into your brew.
6. Pour the tincture into your carboy through a strainer and let that sit for a few days.
7. You’re ready to keg or bottle!