Saturday, October 4, 2008

Gnome Autumn Red Birch Beer

Next week will be a time for the whole family to be together again. This doesn't happen very often, so I've stocked up many of my tasty brews for the occasion. I can't wait to pour some of my freshly kegged brews (Nut Brown, Porter & Tripel). Before now, they have only had my beers from a bottle.

Among the group are a handful who do not drink alcohol, or prefer drinks other than beer. To remedy this situation, and provide a beverage they will enjoy, I brewed a 2 gallon batch of red birch beer. I don't recall what one tastes like, but figured it might be tasty. Apparently, those who live in the Northwest grow up on this stuff.

I wanted to boil some spices or herbs to create a more complex flavor. After smelling and tasting the Gnome extract, it really reminded me of spearmint toothpaste. So I chose spices that might go well. Cinnamon, cassia buds, grains of paradise and dried orange peel were boiled for about 20 minutes.

Then a mix of sugars were dissolved in the hot spice tea. Organic cane sugar, a little brown sugar, and a touch of molassas. This should deepen the color, and provide a fuller sweet flavor. Some malto dextrin was also added for some mouthfeel and foamy head.

Gnome Autumn Red Birch Beer

Brewed: 10/3/08
Batch Size: 2 gallons

Extract & Sugars
3.2 Tbs. Extract
1.7 lb. Organic Cane Sugar
4.0 oz. Brown Sugar
1.0 oz. Black Molassas
3.0 Tbs. Malto Dextrin

2 tsp. Dried Sweet Orange Peel
1 tsp. Cassia Buds
1.5 tsp. Grains of Paradise
2 Cinnamon Sticks

This batch was kegged and forced carbonated. If it comes out a bit too strong, we can easily add some carbonated water to thin it out. Or some water can be added to the keg. I'll let you know what they think about it.


Russ said...

I've had really good luck with the Gnome root beer extract. As I'm not the spice/herb enthusiast that you are, I've started simple (substituting dark brown sugar and maple syrup for part of the cane sugar) but plan on adding some vanilla next time and tweaking it a little more each batch. And for the price, you definitely can't beat Gnome. One word of warning, though: don't keep the foil packets in the garage during the winter. They WILL break the packet when they freeze, leaving a sticky, root-beer-smelling mess when they thaw. Not that I know this from experience or anything...

Unknown said...

I was thinking about getting some of the gnome red birch beer extract in my next order from midwest for the same reason, some of my family doesn't drink alcohol. What was the reaction from your family? What do you think about the addition of juniper berries or licorice to your recipe?

Ted Danyluk said...


I haven't had red birch beer before brewing this. I was very surprised by how minty this extract is, like a very strong spearmint toothpaste.

I made it too strong in taste and in sugar content to the point where it isn't getting carbonated in the keg, and I'm still planning on diluting it to make it more drinkable.

At a more diluted consistency, I would imagine other flavors could work out, but I can't taste the spice flavors I boiled into this one. Just think about what flavors might go well with a fairly intense mint taste, and try it out. You will probably find that you either like it or you don't, but that opinion is best left to the younger peoples and teetotalers drinking it. In fact the people who tried mine kindof liked it.

Personally, I much prefer root beer, and look forward to trying their creme soda someday.