Choosing spice for homebrew beer depends on how well the spice marries with the flavor of the homebrew beer. Wanton dosing of spices into beer without consideration of how the spice will enhance the flavor wastes ingredients and hours of work producing a fine homebrew beer. This is also true of adding flavorings to your homebrew beer. If the flavors don’t produce a drinkable product, it loses value.
Spices for homebrew beer range from the exotic like cardamom to the more traditional like nutmeg or cinnamon. Many untried spices are perfectly suited for homebrew beer such as lemongrass with its hint of lemon or the sophisticated juniper berries so classic to homebrew European beer. Some spices added to homebrew beer are an acquired taste. For instance, star anise adds a licorice flavor while chili fits the fancy of those who love anything with a Tex-Mex taste.
Another in this league is cumin. Cumin should be used sparingly in beer as it has a tendency to flatten the genuine beer flavor. Cumin is a spice that in small dashes add a singularly identifiable flavor to anything. While cocoa isn’t a spice, combined with chili powder in a small dose, it adds color and flavor. The two should be blended well before adding to a homebrew beer. Sour salt as a spice added to a homebrew beer in small amounts grants a slightly lemony bitter salt taste.
If the homebrew beer is delicate in flavor, adding spices can upgrade the quality and flavor. Plan in advance the type of final homebrew beer that will result by adding spices. For stronger flavored homebrew beer, spices should be barely evident and alter the flavor almost imperceptibly. Go for a creative homebrew beer by adding spices with a more obvious style. The result will bring smiles to those it’s shared with.