Beer is malleable stuff, like play-dough, gold or… boogers. Although seemingly simple in can be complicated, strange, blended, pervaded, rearranged and infused. Believe it or not beer infusions are a time honored tradition because of the mere fact that beer is like an open ingestible liquid canvas.
Infusion: is the process of suspending a soluble extract in some medium to introduce its products or constituents for an additive purpose.
The most common and widely understood beverage that we generally think of when referring to infusions is tea. You know… green tea, black tea, or Earl Grey (for a more proper English variety). Just mix hot water and leaves and blam! TEA! You can add some flowers, fruit, honey, sugar, weird mushrooms, cave age it, ferment it a bit whatever, there are thousands of things you can do to tea and still have it count. If you think about it beer in every way and process beer is essentially tea. We take hot water, sugar (generally in the form of barely) and flowers (hops) mix it around, cool it down, add some yeast and we call our cold fermented tea, beer. TEA + COLD = BEER (well… sorta). Start there and elaborate.
Follow these basic guidelines then you can start doing all kinds of fun and strange things to add new flavors, blend beverages and be in a general sense, creative. For the record… I didn’t really spell out any guidelines.
Historically herbs and fruit were the most common additional additives to beer. Recently coffee has been a HUGE deal in the beer world. Just about everyone is making a coffee beer. There are tons of ways to add coffee. You can add the ground beans directly to the mash tun, kettle, fermenter or the bright tank. You can make the coffee separately either in a hot or cold process and add that to the fermenter or the bright tank. You could smash the beans with a hammer and leave them on the brewery floor as some kind of modern art. We have tried it all. Black’s Dawn is one of our coffee beers where we add fresh ground beers directly to the fermenter after we cool the beer down.
More recently we have been using our trusty juicer and adding all kinds of fruit, making beer cocktails, and even re-fermenting some of these wacky creations with bugs and wild yeast in used barrels!
On the 17th Beer Mystic Evan will be at Cinco in LA demonstrating some of this crazy $h!+! Come on down and check it out.