Sep 162009

Autumn leaf

Fall is here!

Wow – I can’t believe Fall is here already! I had a really crappy summer – the weather ruined just about every weekend I had at home, while wedding planning (T -124 days) took up the rest. I look back now and realize how incredible the odds were that every weekend we planned wedding stuff for would be beautiful, and every other weekend would be raining/hurricaning/fire storming. Yea, I can’t win a scratch off Lottery game, but I can defy the laws of probability when it comes to lost brewing opportunities!

Anyway, with Summer 2009 a bust, we look forward pleadingly towards Autumn to right the wrongs Nature has smacked us with. As previously mentioned, I am planning a nice pumpkin spice ale and a porter with the star anise I picked up a few months ago. A couple of questions for discussion and debate –

1. Pumpkin ale – with or without real pumpkin?
2. Star anise in a rich chocolate porter – yay or nay?
3. Have you ever used cardamom in beer? It goes well with tea…
4. Can I somehow work my avocado fetish into one of these beers?

Also, let me know what you have cooking for the Fall and holiday seasons!

Aug 182009

Star Anise

Star Anise

I came across some star anise in an ethnic supermarket the other day, and picked some up on a whim. I’ve been trying to come up with a recipe to try it in, when it occurred to me that it might be tasty in some beer. I’ve seen mention of it being used in some Belgian brews – supposedly it lends a sharp licorice flavor to the beer, and takes awhile to mellow. I’m thinking of using it in a stout or porter recipe – something with enough body and flavor to support this strong spice. Has anyone used this in a similar style? I’m wondering if it would play nice with chocolate, hazelnut, or vanilla – some of my favorite flavors for stouts. I also made a bourbon Russian imperial stout once that I could picture the licorice flavor in. I’m going to play around with some grain bills tonight and try to come up with a sample recipe – if anyone has any feedback or suggestions, leave a comment!