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Herbs in non-hopped beers

Aussie Home Brewer

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surly

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Hey Tim, I haven't read this whole thread, so sorry if these have been brought up before.
I spoke to you briefly at Thunder road a few months back during one of the first Merry Mashers meetings. Mentioned that I had tried a Black Wattle beer a few years previously, but couldn't remember the brewery.
Have since stumbled across this, not sure if the same or not: http://www.greatsouthernbrewing.com.au/barons-native
 

TimT

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I remember that! And yes, a couple of folks have mentioned the black wattle beer in connection with the 'Barons' range so it's a safe bet that that's the one you were talking about.

I got some lemon myrtle a few weeks ago which I want to save up for use down the track in a kind of native-themed beer.
 
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Hops are part of the hemp family, I wonder how a bit of weed would go?
Skunk weed maybe?
 

TimT

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I've heard tobacco can be used as a flavouring in some drinks (mostly liqueurs).
 

TimT

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YuUM!

Tasted my yarrow pale/wheat beer thingy today. Yarrow flavour is nice - savoury, a hint of spiciness, more subtle than hops.
 

surly

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I have no idea what yarrow is like. Sounds interesting though.
The beer I posted above was nice. Good herby/spiceness. Was probably just a little over-done for my taste. Was happy to drink it though.

Pepperberry and myrtle might be a good option for Witbiers.
 

Ninegrain

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Your Yarrow beer sounds nice TimT. May I ask what the recipe for it was? I have some yarrow seeds on the way so will give it a go once I have enough of it :)
 

TimT

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Thanks Ninegrain. Hmmm I can't remember all the details - it was kind of a cross between a witbier and pale ale base - but I've checked a few yarrow beer recipes, and the essentials are this: for a five gallon wort you'll need about three-four pounds of yarrow.

Translated to Australian terms, that is about 1.4 - 1.8 Kgs of yarrow for a 23 L wort.

Throw the yarrow in 30 minutes before the end of the boil - stalks and leaves. Cut off the flower heads and chuck them in at flame out as you ought to get more flowery aroma that way.

For my recipe the yarrow I had been collecting and drying from the garden didn't quite come up to the required amount, so I supplemented it with some mugwort for a classic gruit combination. It would also work well with hops only you should be careful not to let the sharp-bitter-spicey hops overwhelm the yarrow.

My main regret about this recipe has been actually that I didn't save a little bit of yarrow/yarrow flower heads for the secondary fermentation, as I feel I would have got even more yarrowy flavour/fragrance that way.

Yarrow is an excellent plant and come mid-late spring you ought to have it growing quite healthily; until that time you ought to be able to pick up dried yarrow (usually the leaves, not the flower heads) at a good organic food dispensary or naturopath. Several types of herbal yarrow tea are pre-packaged and sold at such places.
 

Ninegrain

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TimT said:
Thanks Ninegrain. Hmmm I can't remember all the details - it was kind of a cross between a witbier and pale ale base - but I've checked a few yarrow beer recipes, and the essentials are this: for a five gallon wort you'll need about three-four pounds of yarrow.

Translated to Australian terms, that is about 1.4 - 1.8 Kgs of yarrow for a 23 L wort.

Throw the yarrow in 30 minutes before the end of the boil - stalks and leaves. Cut off the flower heads and chuck them in at flame out as you ought to get more flowery aroma that way.

For my recipe the yarrow I had been collecting and drying from the garden didn't quite come up to the required amount, so I supplemented it with some mugwort for a classic gruit combination. It would also work well with hops only you should be careful not to let the sharp-bitter-spicey hops overwhelm the yarrow.

My main regret about this recipe has been actually that I didn't save a little bit of yarrow/yarrow flower heads for the secondary fermentation, as I feel I would have got even more yarrowy flavour/fragrance that way.

Yarrow is an excellent plant and come mid-late spring you ought to have it growing quite healthily; until that time you ought to be able to pick up dried yarrow (usually the leaves, not the flower heads) at a good organic food dispensary or naturopath. Several types of herbal yarrow tea are pre-packaged and sold at such places.
Cool thanks for that! 1.4kg! Sheesh that's a lot. Dry weight too I guess? Did you have it in a bag and pull it out at the end? I can image that clogging up my ball valve really easily.

I found some sweet gale too. http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/251543263911?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649. Because it is dry it may be able to get past customs...but I have had dried plants pulled up before..
 

TimT

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You can use either fresh or dried yarrow.

I just chucked the lot in, though I did filter it out by pouring through cheesecloth after (which was a bit of a bugger). Should work fine in a bag.

You might be able to get the yarrow taste by boiling the water you are going to use for the mash and throwing them in then. Though since advice is typically to add yarrow 30 mins before end of boil perhaps you will lose some of the yarrow flavour that way?
 

panzerd18

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Hi TimT, what value do you see in adding the herbs/spices in dry to the primary fermentor as you would dry hopping?

I am very much interested in trying to brew gruit. I think I would appreciate a herbal/spiced tasting beer.

In terms of wormwood, I have heard to only use 10grams per 20Litres. Would this be enough in your experience?
 

TimT

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I think it depends a lot on the particular herb you're dry hopping with, but in general you'd add herbs late in the fermentation if you wanted to preserve their more delicate aromas and flavours - the stuff that would be likely to vanish in the intense heat of a boil or in the violence of primary fermentation.

I think I'd always aim at underpitching rather than overpitching wormwood. It really is intense and can be quite unpleasant. Mugwort is a close relative (also in the Artemisia family), tastes better, and can be either grown in your garden or sourced at a good organic food store.

I'll probably be ready to update this page soon on further herbal adventures!
 

panzerd18

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Great, I'm keen to hear of anymore experiments you are carrying out.

I am worried about dry hopping or dry herbing as it could lead to a potential infection. I believe hopps have an anti-septic quality that other herbs do not.
 

TimT

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Adding as late as possible is probably another good rule to follow, since flavours will either fade away over time, change or be lost easily in a boil. Check out the excellent excel spreadsheet of brewing herbs that Mark linked on I think the first page of this thread for a good list of herbs, how much and when to add them.

I don't think hops are the only herbs with antiseptic qualities (juniper and yarrow and and the artemisias all apparently have antiseptic qualities); at any rate alcohol itself is antiseptic. The wort is at most danger from infection before the yeast really establishes itself in the brew.

As a further guard against infection you could soak your herbs in a small amount of a neutral alcohol (vodka) for a while before chucking the whole lot in the fermenter.

Don't expect to necessarily get strong spicey flavours. Many of the flavours you'll get from traditional gruit herbs - yarrow, rosemary, myrtle - are quite gentle and floral, and you may find some subtle yeast flavours coming through too. (Wormwood and hops are of course both super strong but for that reason I feel they often obscure other flavours and may be omitted).
 
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