Tag Archives: Charlotte

Episode #16 ­ Spices & Herbs in Brewing / Ass Clown Brewing

Brewing w/ Spices & Herbs:

  • Before the 16th century, beer was often spiced with a combination of mildly narcotic, bitter and preservative plants such as;
    • mugwort, sweet gale, heather, yarrow, Labrador tea, juniper, ginger, caraway, anise, nutmeg, cinnamon and sometimes, hops.
  • The combination of spice & herbs  used varied from place to place
  • This blend of herbs and spices used to flavor ale was often referred to as gruit.
  • Brewing with strange and exotic herbs and spices is not new and unusual it’s old school.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with unusual ingredients.

Getting started:

  • Have a basic recipe as a starting point. Before considering brewing with spices and herbs it helps to have a style and flavor profile in mind.
    • What are you trying to accomplish with your spice/herb additions?
    • Do the flavors you plan on introducing compliment each other?
  • Sometimes it helps to work backwards, choose a spice and/or herb first and then choose a style that would compliment the addition.
  • Once you have a flavor profile in mind, decide what form the spices should be in (such as fresh, whole, dried, ground, crushed, steeped, etc.)
  • Determine the quantities needed and when each spice should be added; should it be added to the boil or to secondary?
  • Familiarize yourself  with what each different spice and herb  you choose tastes and smells like and their relative flavor and aroma profile. Many brewers make a simple tea with the spice/herb in question to get an idea of what it will taste/smell  like in a liquid solution.

Sourcing and Handling Spices & Herbs:

  • Some spices and herbs  you might consider using in your brew  may be sitting in your kitchen; however, some spices/herbs are best used fresh such as spruce tips, chilies, & ginger.
  • Evaluate at the spices/herbs you plan to use and determine where you will get them and the form they will be in.
  • Homebrew suppliers are  a good place to start but  you may need to check your local supermarket, a specialty foods store, or  grow the spice/herb yourself.
  • Its best to crush/grind spices and herbs as close to when they will be added to your brew as possible. also generally best to purchase spices/herbs whole and crush or grind them yourself.
  • Many recommend lightly toasting the spices/herbs to fully release their essential oils if appropriate

Adding the ingredients

  • Biggest question is, “How much do I use?” When making this decision consider the strength of the spice or herb and when in doubt, use less than you think you’ll need. IN most cases you can always add more to secondary or at bottling.
    • much better to have a beer with a too-subtle a spice/herb flavor than one that is too-strong
  • If you have never used a given spice/herb, begin with a small amount and take good notes so you can modify your recipe the next time you use it.
  • Deciding whentoaddan herb or spice in depends on how much of the spice’s flavor and aroma will be in the finished product.
    • Typically,theearlieran herb or spice is added the more flavor will be extracted but also the less aroma will be retained.
      • Cinnamon might be added the last thirty minutes of the boil to achieve the desired flavor. But, the subtle aroma of sweetgrass might  be lost if boiled, and should therefore be added to secondary.
    • Sometimes a  herb/spice might be added earlier in the brewing process and  later in order to get the  flavor and aroma desired.
    • Many brewers also prefer making tinctures. This is done by soaking the spice or herb in a cheap alcohol solution and then determining how much to add, the advantage being that you can also add the tincture at bottling.
        • Real life examples?

Recommended readings:

  • Randy Mosher – Radical Brewing
  • Stephen Buhner – Sacred & Herbal Healing Beers

Q&A w/ Ass Clown Brewers (Wes & Scotty)

  1. What is the philosophy behind Ass Clown Brewing? Name?
  2. What are your Flagship Beers? Do you offer any that are not augmented?
  3. Your bottles say to store cold, I have never seen them stored cold. Will this affect your flavor profiles?
  4. how long brewing home and pro?
  5. processes?
  6. Favorite commercial herb/spiced beer?
  7. Favorite homebrews using spices/herbs
  8. Craziest beer you have brewed either commercially or at home.
  9. Biggest spice/herb failures20150618_205447

What has everyone been up to:


  • NHC ­ Epic
  • White Labs, BNA10/WL20, Expo, Club night, seminars, Key note, Pro night, Banquet
  • Brewed a Munich dunkel and a Melon Weiss (clean)

Daan: ­

  • Collab with Shawn ­ GrandPa’s Breakfast Porter. Moved Domm and Daaner to Bourbon
  • Barrel and kegged the Czech Pils and Smoked Rye Lager.
  • No brewing planned til the weekend of the 26th. Heading to Charleston this weekend.
  • Did a food/beer pairing for family friends in Myrtle Beach (10 beers in all).
  • Brews planned (Oktoberfest/Marzen).


  •  Brewed my first Skeeter Pee, going to use it to make High Gravity Russ’n.
  •  Building a 7 tap kegerator out of a School Milk cooler.
  •  Brewed an Edelweiss Beer.


  • Brewed collab with Daan GrandPa’s Breakfast, Imperial Porter w/ Tobacco Smoked Malt & Oat’s and aged in a Scotch Barrel.
  • Brewed up a RIS for Keg fermenter conversion,
  • Brewed a light sour with Omega Labs Lacto followed by What Da Funk. Strange issue w/ one pouch.


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Beer/Brewery industry news/updates:

  • Yakima Chief and Hop Union merged http://beerpulse.com/2014/08/yakima­chief­inc­and­hopunion­llc­combine-operations­into­yakima­chief­hopunion­llc­3405/
  • Maltose Falcons = 2015 Radegast Club of the Year
  • Devils BackBone (multi GABF award winner for Vienna Lager, SB, Turbo Cougar, gold leaf lager, etc. and multiple brewery small and midsized of the year winners) will soon expand their distribution into NC very soon. rumored for a month or so but confirmed by the speaker at NHC.
  •  Mark is working with Assention Brewing as a chef/brewer. Congrats to Mark!
  •  June 27 NC Brewers Celebration An event celebrating the growth of craft beer in North Carolina—where it’s been, where it is today, and where the future is headed. The North Carolina Brewers Celebration will give attendees a comprehensive look inside the North Carolina beer scene. http://www.charlottebeer.com/2015/06/03/north­carolina­brewers-
    celebration Also in addition to many other fantastic brews pouring there will be an NC Brewers Collaboration Red IPA brewed recently at NoDa.
  •  Red Clay has Certificate of Occupancy!
  •  Jester king article about using green bottles (light struck adding to some beers etc) and finding BJCP to be stifling? http://jesterkingbrewery.com/jester­king­in­green­bottles


House of Brews  3611 Tryclan Drive Charlotte, NC 28217

Store Hours:

  • Thursday & Friday from 11-7
  • Saturday 10-7
  • Sunday 10-1

Charlotte Oktoberfest 17th Annual on October 3rd. (Biggest beer fest in SouthEast)

  • Sponsored by Lagunitas
  • We will be giving away 2 pairs of tickets
  • Premium & General Admission Tickets
  • Ferm Nation booth selling craft beer bottle candles for charity.

Salud ­ 3306 N. Davidson (Noda just before the railroad tracks).

  • FūD at Salud ­ Amazing beer focused food, waffle sandwiches, locally made beer cheese with BirdSong’s Jalapeno Ale..