One of the most positive qualities displayed by craft brewers is their inherent can-do attitude towards constant experimentation. Over the last few decades since the concept of craft brewing first took hold in the United States, brewers have continued to push the boundaries of style and taste with increasingly more unconventional ingredients and brewing techniques.
For many years now, coffee has featured in stouts and porters as the natural partner to heavily roasted malt and barley. More recently, brewers are turning to tea as an equally appropriate additional ingredient to enhance the flavor of many beer styles from wheat beer to ESB, and even IPA’s.
Try Stone Brewing’s Green Tea IPA for a beautifully herbal and bracingly bitter example of successful tea infused beer. Alternatively, if you’re in the UK, sip Rooster’s High Tea IPA for a wonderful grassy, herbal British take on the style.
The fun doesn’t end with green tea either, as there are many varieties of tea – just as there are many varieties of hops and malt – making for endlessly enjoyable combinations.
Here’re a few more tea-infused beers to try:
Summit Brewing’s Unchained #19 Make It So – An ESP style brewed with Earl Grey Tea
Dogfish Head’s Sah’tea – A modern take on a 9th-century Finnish beer, this ancient inspired style is flavored with black tea and juniper berries.
Prism ParTea Pale Ale – Pale Ale brewed with whole leaf Orange Pekoe tea
Infuse Your Own Beers
The brewers listed above use additional ingredients such as tea during the brewing process, but what if you’d like to experiment yourself? Thankfully, you don’t have to be a master brewer to have fun with beers auxiliary ingredients; you can create your own unique infusions using a simple teapot, a tea ball, or even French press, which I will proceed to demonstrate…
In this example, I’m using a Bodum glass teapot, which I’ve selected for its very large filter bowl that allows my additional ingredients more room to breathe during the infusion process. You can, of course, use a French press as suggested above if you don’t have a teapot, but I find the fine mesh filter on these devices has the effect of dramatically reducing the carbonation in beer. The Bodum model used in this demonstration makes for a more gentle filtration that preserves a decent amount of bubbles.
For my core ingredients, I’ve chosen the popular combination of green tea and a nice hoppy IPA – in this instance I’m using St Austell breweries Proper Job. My hope is to compliment the hoppy grapefruit, pine, and elderflower hop notes of this fantastic bottle conditioned ale with the herbal, grassy, and tannic bitter qualities of fresh Chinese green tea.
The process is pretty simple really; after adding the desired amount of tea (two teaspoons on this occasion), I gently poured half a bottle of beer into the teapot and left it to steep for around 15 minutes. I used the remainder of the beer and the steeping time to familiarize myself with the base beer to ensure I was prepared to make comparisons.
St Austell’s Proper Job is a lovely modern take on a classic British IPA. It’s brewed with plenty of Cascade, Chinook, and Willamette hops, all served up on a classic British Maris Otter malt base to produce a beer with plenty of citrus, pine, and elderflower notes.
Once combined with the green tea for 15 minutes, the beer took on another layer of depth, with a subtle but pleasant herbal and grassy aroma combined with a complimentary tannic bitterness on the finish. All-in-all a pretty successful combination I’d say! If anything, It might even benefit from a greater quantity of tea – two teaspoons was quite reserved to be honest, but I didn’t want to risk stewing the beer.
Check out the video below for a full demonstration:
More infusions to come
This post marks the beginning of a new series here at TA Brews. Watch this space as we explore further the endless flavor combinations; up next – a classic coffee infused stout combination.
If you’ve ever tried infusing beer yourself, do let us know how it went in the comments below. Or, if you haven’t given it a try yet, grab yourself a glass teapot and get creative!
*Full disclosure: Should you choose to purchase the glass teapot through the affiliate links provided, we may earn a small commission. There is no additional expense to you, and this is how we keep the website free – cheers 🙂