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Gruit & Other Medeival And Medicinal Adjuncts

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Temple of Seth

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Hey All,

I'm interested in formulating some recipes using adjuncts from Old European style fermentations (pre-Reformation). I was wondering if there was a good place in Oz to get live or dried herbs for Gruit or other herbal beers. Representative herbs would include yarrow, marsh rosemary, mugwort, wormwood, elderberries, scotch broom etc. Has anyone on the forum tried this sort of thing?

Cheers,

TOS
 
J

Jovial_Monk

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Many of the herbs you can grow yourself: I have yarrow, coltsfoot and ground ivy growing in my garden. Mugwort, wormwood are easy to grow.

Do research each ingredient you want to use though: myrica gale (IIRC) is a carcinogen and tansy is an abortificent. Ordinary sage, rosemary etc were also used.

I aim to try brewing some ground ales in 2005, using sundried malt I will make from the unmalted sloop barley a client gave me. Mebbe we can compare notes and pool research


Jovial Monk
 

Temple of Seth

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Right On, JMonk. I have one in the fermenter now. I wasn't able to find fresh herbs/plants re: yarrow, myrica, marsh rosemary, bog, myrtle, broom, clary, darrow etc. I just ordered some mugwort and henbane. I was able to plant & get going some wormwood, sage (officianalis) & rosemary (ordinary, not marsh). Here's the gyst (first let's get one thing out of the way - I'm an extract brewer ;-) )

1kg Morgans Special Dark Crystal malt extract
1Kg Morgans Special Chocolate malt extract
1.5 kg dry light malt extract

in boil:
2 oz fresh rosemary
0.5 oz fresh wormwood
1 oz rubbed sage

in fermenter:
2 oz fresh rosemary
0.5 oz fresh wormwood
3 oz fresh sage

for yeast I pitched 2 packs of Nottingham dry.

Will be bottling this sunday. I'll keep you posted.
 

nonicman

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I've had a go a very small ale, but over did the cardamon however it was drinkable and is very healthy. I drew off 1.5 litres of an AG wort before the boil, fermented with WLP023 Burton Ale. With that much malt I'm guessing that you're aware unboiled ale only has a limited self life before it goes off e.g a week. Though I am basing that on the amount of laws passed regulating the sale of ale pre-Reformation. Mine was gone in 4 days. Hope it turns out well and keep us posted.

EDit: didn't read the above post correctly he is boiling the wort. :eek:
 

homebrewworld.com

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I thought i was adventurous ?!
I put some corriander and orange peel in my last beer...whew
Try telling that to the boys at work,
good on ya boys!
cheers
 

Temple of Seth

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Certainly, hops acts as a preservative in beer. However, there was a lot going on regarding beer adjuncts pre-reformation. I understand that to formulate a gruit mix you had to buy a license, and these were only sold by a monopoly owned by the Catholic church.

I've also heard that the beer purity laws were, in effect, the first known substance-control laws in the west, since many herbs used before hops were stimulant and aphrodesiac, whilst hops is a sedative and an anaphrodesiac (hence the condition commonly known as 'brewer's droop').

Kind of figures - America was founded by fanatic protestants, and they also have some of the stupidest drug laws around. ;-)

FYI a good place to get live specimens of wormwood and mugwort is www.shaman-australis.com.au

a place that I found that sell other live beer-herb specimens (yarrow, wormwood, mugowrt, tansy, hyssop, licorice, pennyroyal, coltsfoot, elder) is www.herbsalive.com.au
 

Tony M

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So, if I wanted to charge around the house looking like a gimlet eyed Incan fertility icon, what should I replace the hops with?
 
J

Jovial_Monk

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Hmmmm I will need to look up Sacred Healing and Herbal Beers, there were flavorings added at times to chicha

JM
 

dicko

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Tony M said:
So, if I wanted to charge around the house looking like a gimlet eyed Incan fertility icon, what should I replace the hops with?
[post="59748"][/post]​
:lol: LOL Tony M,

To the others,
Purity laws were bought about to protect the general public from the risk of partaking of these dubious adjuncts.
These regulations have been concentrated on more recent times on ingredients like " sugar " but we must all realise that the original regulations were to include some or all of the above mentioned additions.
Even, with this topic, the sometimes radical, Jovial Monk, points ot the potential dangers in some of these additions.
I would like to know that all the beers I taste at a fellow brewers social gathering ( or a HB shop for that matter ) does not contain these dubious adjuncts and to this end I recommend that if you choose to include these dangerous additions then you keep the drinking of these doubtful brews entirely to yourself and ensure that they are not included in any social event, be it for "fun" or "social experiment".

Cheers
 
J

Jovial_Monk

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Think you are wrong there, dicko, they were enacted way after the gruit period was over. Late 19th century porters had, in some cases, strychnine, opium and other nasties added to give the beer more "punch" Gruit ales were extremely high in alcohol (for preserving power) and needed nothing else added for "punch"

And not too much is dangerous, myrica gale (I think, need to check & post later) is now classed as an carcinogen and like I said earlier Tansy is not real good for pregnant women, the rest present few problems.

JM
 

Sean

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Jovial_Monk said:
And not too much is dangerous, myrica gale (I think, need to check & post later) is now classed as an carcinogen
[post="59774"][/post]​
Is it? Fraoch (Heather Ale) included it (under the name Bog Myrtle) as a main bittering when it was in season, although rumour has it they stick to hops now.
 

Weizguy

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Can I get Fraoch in Oz?

It appeals immensely to me. Would like to get some this Winter.

Can anyone PM me with a source for heather flowers? Might make some. What is a good substitute for Scottish malt, or can i get it here, too?

Should I ask my lhbs?

Captain Seth out :p
 

nonicman

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When reading up the history of beer it is tempting to give it a try, though I wouldn't want to go all the way, lead fermenters anyone?

My understanding of gruit is that it was composed of what was available to do the job, from dodgy herbs to exotic spices, as long as you have bittering and flavour/aroma components. Basically anything was fair game. My bet is that if you showed a historical gruit beer brewer a modern supermarket spice isle he/she wouldn't look twice as at the mankey bog herbs.

The outbreak of dubious additions to beer that are sighted by JM in the 19th century occur at the same time as it become popular for government to "cut the red tape" for business. Prior to that there is extensive evidence of regulation, wasn't Shakespear's father a Ale-Conner (beer inspector).

I had a go at a historical ale just to get an idea of what was being drunk historically and if it has any commerical potentual ;). However I have also tried medieval combat and making chainmail, guess I like the history stuff.

With the beer it's safety over authenticity, Dicko's valid warnings are noted.

However where would Belgium Wit beers be if Pierre Celis hadn't raided the history books and his pantry?

Edit: grammer, and JM I guess Mum is the word.
 

Sean

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Weizguy said:
Can I get Fraoch in Oz?

It appeals immensely to me. Would like to get some this Winter.

Can anyone PM me with a source for heather flowers? Might make some. What is a good substitute for Scottish malt, or can i get it here, too?

Should I ask my lhbs?

Captain Seth out :p
[post="59792"][/post]​
As far as I know Heather Ale doesn't include anything special malt wise - just go for whatever good quality Ale Malt you normally use. You could chase after Golden Promise if you wanted, but I'd be a little bit surprised if they use it.
 

Airgead

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Jovial_Monk said:
And not too much is dangerous, myrica gale (I think, need to check & post later) is now classed as an carcinogen and like I said earlier Tansy is not real good for pregnant women, the rest present few problems.

JM
[post="59774"][/post]​

I'd go a little easy on the wormwood too. Its a very strong flavour and can be poisionous in large quantities (depending on the type - some are some aren't.. you never can tell woth wormwood).

Cheers
Dave
 

Temple of Seth

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Well, you might guess by my referral to the purity laws what I think of most prohibition statutes. Paternalistics actions by the state in the name of what (is sometimes laughably) called safety is a big reason why my homeland is the worlds biggest prison warden. I'm not a medical doctor, just a doctorate in biophysics, and there isn't much in life that won't cause cancer or kill you in the right doses. Personally, I think the low emission standards on automobiles in Queensland have a better chance of causing me cancer than some new herbs in my beer. These effects tend to get lost in the noise.

Not that I'm advocating higher prices for cars in Queensland, nor that someone should pick random plants from the roadside and stick them in ale. Easy does it with anything new etc., and do your homework.

Of course, Dicko is absolutely right about sneaking new ethnobotanicals on people without their knowledge. I'm more than happy to point out the dangers of any ale I make to anyone I'll share it with.

My mugwort plant came in the mail yesterday from Shaman Australis. It's pretty small. I might get another one from Marshall's nursery. I also got a hops plant (unnamed) from SA, but that's even smaller. It may not survive the week. I'll do what I can though.

Found a bunch of stinging nettles on the roadside somewhere on the great dividing range. Awful pain trying to pick it up with nothing but a towel to cover my hands (literally). That's going in my next one, with some more aromatics from the garden.
 
J

Jovial_Monk

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Hope you like mint!

Agree with what you say re dangers, just wanted to point out the two SAID to be dangerous.

JM
PS think my ground ivy is all dead or something :(
 

Temple of Seth

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Thats's not cool about the ground ivy. I was going to ask you where you got it b/c I can't find it online (or haven't yet). Are the bugs eating it up? They've really gone to town on my sage & I had to cut away some old growth of wormwood b/c it was covered in a wierd scale. Still keen on the yarrow though. Glad to find a fellow antiprohibitionist. ;) Elliot Ness was overrated. :-D
 

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