Spirits: Adding Kick to the Beer

Spirits have more purpose than adding oomph to your beer. A number of interesting flavors can be derived from the bottles. The added alcohol can cut an overly sweet beer or repair a too-weak beer. Alternatively, sweet liquors mask harsh flavors.

A great advantage to using liquor, your addition is sanitary. The cautious use only uncracked bottles and sanitize the outside before adding to the keg, bottling bucket, or fermenter. Here are some spirits you may want to add to your homebrew:

  • Hard alcohol (bourbon, tequila, rum) — In addition to the burn, each spirit carries a unique flavor profile. The French love adding booze and have several whiskey-and tequila-fueled beers on the market.

  • Fruit liqueurs — There are two classes of fruit liquors, the eau-de-vie brandy style (all alcohol with no fruit), and the sweet liqueur type. You usually want the sweet schnapps. One batch of GVC's Imperial Chocolate Porter was rescued from too long on the nibs by a raspberry schnapps bottle added to the keg. Add blue cura çao to a light beer and you have every Trekker's dream: orange-flavored Romulan ale.

  • Crème liqueurs (cacao, menthe) — For those times when you want the flavor, but not the hassle of dealing with the ingredient or worries about sanitation, the crème liqueurs rescue you. Use an unopened bottle to ensure the purity of the contents.

  • Coffee liqueur — A final way of adding a sweet, nonbitter, coffee flavor to your beer. Do a taste test first before adding the coffee liqueur to avoid overpowering the base beer.

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