October 10, 2011

Making Spice Tinctures

After a very bad experience with a holiday spiced ale and a heavy had with some cloves early in my brewing career i started making spice tinctures in order to control the amount of spice i was adding to my beer.

The process is pretty simple. Weigh out the spices and add a measured amount of vodka. Note the measurements mix together, shake and leave the mixture in a sunny window for at least a week.

This method works for adding pretty much any flavor to your final beer, i have done grapefruit zest, sumac and tons of different spices. If you get spices fresh or from your garden they need to be dried first but thats pretty simple. I like to use dry spices because I don't want to add water to my beer, even though the amount would be next to nothing. I have yet to try making a tincture with hops or coffee beans but maybe when i do my next brew with coffee(coffee porter, watch for the post) i will give it a shot.

This was the preparation for the spice addition to my pumpkin ale, I made seperate tinctures of all spice, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Once the tinctures have sat for about a week (sometimes i go more, sometimes much more) its time to filter them. I get a clean mason jar set a funnel in it and run the mixture through a coffee filter. I like to let the vodka run through the spices one last time at this point.

Once the mixture is run through a filter Its pretty much good to go. The mixture is extremely strong so it does not take much to flavor the final beer.

When adding the spice mixture to the final beer I will use 100ml samples of beer and experiment with adding various amounts of the individual spices until I get the flavor profile i want. Once I'm happy with the flavor I scale up the amount of tincture used and add them to the keg and carbonate.

Additionally I'm almost always left with some extra tincture so this thanksgiving I'm planning on making some pumpkin pie martinis for the ladies in my family with some whip cream flavored vodka and spice tinctures, possibly topped of with some of that whip cream that has boose in it.


  1. We do the same thing. Right now we've got madagascar vanilla beans, rose hips, lavender, chipotle, star anise and a few other ones going. It's a great way to add some subtle flavors.

  2. Its the best way to control spice levels. I like having the leftovers for interesting cocktails too, I wonder what issues could arise at the professional level with adding vodka to beer though.

  3. What's your ratio between spice and measure vodka?

  4. I wonder, can a tincture be added to a beer for aroma purposes but not for taste? I want to make a saison with rose aroma (using a recipe I have for rose schnapps). Not sure I want the taste of rose but would love to have the aroma. I'm making it for my wife.

  5. can the tincture by Tequila?