|Some whole spices - cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.|
|Not the brand I used, but cheap nonetheless.|
What I got over the next few days was a spice-filled liquid to add to my beer. I bought some plastic droppers and would add a little of this and a few drops of that to each pint I poured. It is amazing what 3 drops of cinnamon could do to a beer. Then I started mixing and tweaking - vanilla (bought extract from the store. Shortcut!), cinnamon, all spice... they all brought something to the beer.
While I didn't end up opening the keg and adding spices to the whole batch, I got to play around with different spice mixes and I have a much better idea as to where to start next time I make a pumpkin ale.
Another benefit to this process is scalability. I know that 4 drops of "Spice A" in a pint is spot on; 8 pints in a gallon; 5 gallons in a batch. So, 4 x 8 x 5 gives me 160 drops per keg. My droppers are marked for measurements, so I can figure out how many drops in a mL and figure out how many mL of spice to add to a batch. I guess the tough part will be figuring out how a number such as '24 mL' equates to dry spices. But it should at least give me a starting point and a ratio to the other spices I'm adding. Or, I could brew the beer and only add spices at kegging.
After a while, I took some coffee filters and filtered all the crushed spices out of the vodka, leaving me with pure spice liquid. I hope to save it and use it in another beer sometime soon. Or, maybe I brew well enough that I won't need to add any more spice to my beer.
But that day isn't here... yet.