I'm wondering about using a Randall the Enamel Animal to experiment with flavor combinations before mixing up a whole batch.
For example, obviously the flavor of hops comes out nicely with one of these, but what other ingredients are going to work as well? Can I experiment with things like roasted nuts, coco nibs, etc using a Randall or won't the flavors come through?
I assume that the most effective ingredients will be those that have water soluble flavor compounds (I believe most herbs fall into this category). It would make sense that fat soluble compounds (cardamon, most spices, etc) would not work well. I'm not sure about alcohol soluble things (tomatoes, peppers, etc)..
From what I've read, you can do anything that's small enough to fit in there but large enough not to sift into the beer (eg, coffee beans but not ground coffee, whole hops but not hop pellets).
Some suggestions I've found that people have reported working well:
- Candied Bacon Bits (with a strong porter or stout).
- Peaches (with a blonde beer)
- Coffee Beans (with a stout or porter, of course)
- Pineapple chunks (with an IPA or 2xIPA)
- Vanilla Beans (with a stout)
Some suggestions off the top of my head (that may be great or terrible):
- Sour patch kids (with a gueuze)
- Hot peppers (with a red or amber)
- Pear slices (with a pale or blonde)
- Watermelon chunks (with a wheat)
- Tea leaves (with something light like a pilsner or saison)