I realized today that, while I have written articles about the making of beer, I have never celebrated the act of finishing the stuff (No, I don't mean the drinking of the beer, silly). Yesterday I finished bottling the anker of beer I made last month. An anker, you'll recall, is ten gallons of beer. I treated each five gallon half of the anker in a slightly different manner. In the first half I bottled, I added 12 ounces of tamarind paste to the secondary fermenter. Tamarinds are a tropical fruit that is sweet/sour to taste. Both halves of the anker were brewed with coriander seeds (homegrown in my garden and crushed), three stalks of fresh lemon grass and sweet orange peel.
The idea of using tamarinds and lemon grass in a beer came to me as I was hankering for some of my favorite food: Thai. Thai foods often include lemon grass and tamarinds. If I were to do this again, I would include something with a sweeter post-fermentation profile. The tamarind beer is quite tart. The trick is to use a sweetener that will not ferment. Malto-Dextrine is one example. Another Thai addition would have been some chili peppers. I may try to doctor a beer up with some pepper juice to see what it would taste like. Hey, ya never know!
Anyway, the beer is a classic American wheat beer with the additions of the spices and other adjuncts mentioned above. It came out very nicely. The tamarind version finished at a specific gravity of 1.012, while the non-tamarind version finnished at 1.008. These beers will be about 5.5% and 5.25% alcohol by volume, respectively. The tamarind version is ready to drink now, and I've had one of them. It is a bit tart for me but my son liked it well enough. I bottled the non-tamarind version yesterday. It will be ready in a week or so.
I'm looking forward to getting some feedback from my beer drinking friends on the two beers and perhaps I'll submit them to a competition. Stay tuned!