Monday, December 3, 2007

4 Herbal Beers

David and I brewed our second, third, forth and fifth herbal/medicinal beers today. From one mash, we boiled and prepared 4 separate 1-gallon batches. The first two were "stagger" boiled, pots were cleaned, then the second two beers were also stagger boiled. This made for a longer day, but we're hoping its all worth it. Each one smelled wonderful as they boiled down from 1.5 gallons to 1. Much like hops loose their fragrance in a long boil, some of these herbs lost it too. Our first herbal beer was a Dandelion Mead made in the Spring.

Originally I had a Heather Beer in mind, but heather tips were T.O.S. So we decided to go with Nettle instead. Also, I wasn't able to locate any roasted Chicory, so we went with Mugwort. This is fine, because we plan on brewing all sorts of herbal beers, and there will come a time to brew with Heather and Chicory later.

I guess I shouldn't have waited to the last moment (and during Chicago's first snow and freezing rain storm) to get the ingredients. Not to mention I went out early evening Saturday, on a busy shopping weekend.

Inspiration for these recipes came from the book Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers. It's an indispensable resource as I enter the realm of herbal/medicinal beers. I look forward to trying many of the recipes in the book. Along with the help of some herbal professional friends, I also look forward to increasing my knowledge about how to most effectively utilize herbal potential in my fermented beverages...similarly to the way we maximize utilization of hop resins in 1-2 hour boils.

So with some on-the-fly improvisation, we came up with four recipes...

1. Cardamom Ginger Beer
1.1 oz. ginger root
8 cardamom pods

2. Fennel Nettle Ale
.6 oz. nettle
1 tsp. fennel

3. Burdock Beer
½ oz. burdock root
¼ oz. mugwort
½ tsp. cracked coriander
16 oz. smoked wort

4. Fresh Sage Ale
1 oz. fresh sage
¼ oz. licorice root
8 oz. smoked wort

All-grain malt base recipe...

Grains (OG 1.048)
5.0 lbs. Organic Pale 2-row
1.0 lbs. Vienna Malt
.50 lbs. Crystal 60L
.25 lbs. Crystal 20L
.25 lbs. Biscuit Malt
.25 lbs. CaraPils

Wyeast 1098 British Ale: 1 pint starter divided into four


Travis said...

I want to know how the ginger beer turns out. We were talking about doing one of those ourselves.

With this process, did you just mash like 5 gallons of base wort and make four different boil mixes? Pretty innovative way to do some cool micro batches. I'll bet that would be a fun thing to do with a heffe or some other light beer and make a whole bunch of different additions to each one.


Adam said...

Sounds like you have some real experimentation going on over there. I'd be interested to hear about the flavor profiles. We're all so trained to taste hop flavors.

I guess you'll have to just approach it like it isn't beer at all.

Did you use some kind of herbal tea or remedy recipes as you base?

David said...

We did an intuitive kind of mixture of 3 things: merged general taste understandings and preferences, reading background reference on amounts to add to beers per volume from the book Ted mentioned in this post, and particularly with the main ingredients for each beer, adding enough ingredients for long enough boil times for a viable medicinal quality similar to making an herbal decoction.

I can't wait to taste them! I've been wanting to do this sort of thing for quite a while. We probably won't try them until mid January, so we'll have to be paitient. Assessment regarding taste as well as color, bitterness, and medicinal effects should be exciting.

Adam said...

The toughest part about brewing...the wait. Good luck! This sounds like a great first step.


Casey said...

Wow you are starting to brew some cool funky stuff. I guess there's no better way to kick a winter flu than drinking some medicinal beer.

Jonathan said...

Nice. That pic of all four of the beers and the shared runoff container is really cool...

Ted Danyluk said...

Thanks for all your comments. I'm really looking forward to tasting what we've got here. We are basically brewing into the unknown, but I know it will be a great introduction, and with good tasting notes, we should be able to make the right kinds of improvements. Check back sometime in January for the results. Cheers.

Anonymous said...


I am curious, how did they turn out?

Anonymous said...

Wow, I was just about to bottle my first non-hopped fully sage brew (culinary, not sagebrush) and I'm glad to see people throwing down the secondaries. I must say, the first sage brew I did this year, with six pounds of pale LME, an ounce of crystal hops, 1/2 boil, 1/2 aroma, and put in almost two ounces of fresh sage, half leaf, half flowers. Excellent. I've had several people say "So this is really beer?" I guess that depends, huh. ;) And the very same book inspired me down the road last year with a ginger/sweet gale/yarrow brew that is by far the best beer I've ever brewed, and subjectively, perhaps, ever had. You are most definitely on the right track with the honey though, if you can get Crabtree brews out of Greeley, CO check out the "gingerbee". first commercial example of the type I've seen.


Anonymous said...

i just bottled a Belgian blonde style with sage honey. the sage is quite strong, not sure i did the right amount here. the FG came out to 1.002 on one version, like a mead. i'm going to have to taste over time and decide if i like it. may try to burn off some of the flavor with heat.

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