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PintOfBitter 03-29-2009 08:00 PM

Green herbal beer with spirulina?
I saw something about a month ago about an herbal beer brewed with spirulina (blue-green algae) that was a very attractive green color and they boasted about its health benefits. I'm a skeptic when it comes to herbal claims, but studies are piling up to support some herbs and their benefits. It seems like there are a number of asian green beers like this, and I think even Tsingtao made one, maybe?

I'm intrigued by the thought of brewing a novelty beer using spirulina - anybody have any clue how the process works or the quantity to use? I'm assuming the spirulina is boiled to release the chlorophyll.

I got a bottle of capsules at our natural food store, and I'm wanting to try it out in the next couple of weeks.

weremichael 03-29-2009 10:02 PM

I love the idea.

Rock On Hippie Beer.

The amount of spirulina algae is well beyond my comprehension. I would think that a "French Press Hop Addition" would be in order. For a bit of Japanese-ness, I would suggest going with about 1 oz. Genmaicha green tea (green tea and toasted rice) and your spirulina added to your secondary (both in a tea pot).

My one bit of advice is to avoid going completely Japanese with Sorachi Ace. That hop is on the "catty side."

GunnerMan 03-29-2009 10:27 PM

Hmm well if you don't mind the taste of seaweed you may like this, I like spirulina but I like sushi style seaweed a lot more.

I would take some spirulina and boil it in some water for a bit, maybe 1 Oz spirulina to 1 gal of water and see how it tastes. I would also try and let some soak in a gallon of water for a bit and see if that works.

I think boiling would be better, I personally would not want that aroma in my beer, just the hint of flavor. Id say 2 Oz would be good for a boil amount of 5 gal, but id run a test like I said.

I think it would go well in a crisper beer, with a mild hop presence. Maybe a light Pale Ale or Amber Ale that has a good malt:hop balance. Either way I say go for it, I want to know how it turns out. Also you might want to adjust your water profile, the seaweed might introduce more sodium than desired.

PintOfBitter 03-30-2009 01:56 AM

thanks for the suggestions on green tea and watching the water profile - I like both ideas. I was thinking a very light beer to start - a cream ale with flaked rice to lighten it up sounds like the ticket. I did a bit of experimenting - boiling the spirulina seems to harm the nice emerald color - I'm thinking i'll expose it to an acid (citric?) or high proof alcohol hoping to lyse the cells and let the goodness out. I don't remember biology well enough to know what will break a cell wall open.

Also, +1 against sorachi ace. I brewed a beer with exclusively SA hops, even dry hopped it, just to really get the full sorachi ace experience. I found that it's not my fave.

I'm hoping the spirulina contributes a bit of flavor - I have been eating a lot more natural foods lately, and I have grown quite a taste for the earthier flavors. Something satisfying about tasting the flavors of raw nature, to some extent.

here's to experimentation.

PintOfBitter 03-30-2009 03:49 AM

OK I began a little experiment tonight. I filled three small vials with an equal amount of spirulina (1/3 capsule each) and varied them as follows:

1 had pH lowered to 4 using a combination of calcium carbonate and lemon juice. 1 was 20% alcohol by adding rum. 1 was just carbon filtered tap water, but the vial was brought to a boil for an instant in the microwave once the spirulina was added.

So far, it looks like the acidified vial is sedimenting out quickly, leaving the water a light blue hue. The alcohol vial is still very dark, and is not visibly stratifying at all. The boiled water vial is stratifying to a lesser extent, and the upper layer is remaining a fairly dark, green color.

I'll evaluate them tomorrow after sitting undisturbed for a while to see which appears to have extracted the most from the spirulina.

GunnerMan 03-30-2009 05:25 AM

If you want flavor to come through you might want to do a first wort addition for flavor and maybe a flame out addition for color.

beerthirty 03-30-2009 05:52 AM

Not sure of making beer with it but I used to feed to my tropical fish. They thrived and it seemed to help their color.

KingBrianI 03-30-2009 11:06 AM


Originally Posted by PintOfBitter (Post 1227884)
1 had pH lowered to 4 using a combination of calcium carbonate and lemon juice. 1 was 20% alcohol by adding rum. 1 was just carbon filtered tap water, but the vial was brought to a boil for an instant in the microwave once the spirulina was added.

You probably know this but I'm just making sure: Calcium carbonate is a base and will raise the pH. If you were using it as a buffer in order to keep the pH from getting too low, that's cool, but your extraction would be stronger if you were lower than 4. You might also want to try raising the alcohol in your alcohol extraction and acidifying it. Say 50/50 etOH/H20 w/ enough lemon juice to get the pH to 3. Shake it for several minutes before letting it sit to clear.

PintOfBitter 03-30-2009 09:55 PM

My calcium carbonate came from AHS and is marked "used to lower pH" hmm, I've been led astray. Hence the fact that I ended up having to switch to lemon juice. :drunk: Incidentally, the pH didn't appear to go basic when I added the calcium carbonate. Apparently it's not a very strong effect.

I'll try a sample at pH 3 and see what happens.

Almost 24 hours later, the alcohol solution appears to be the best for maintaining the nice blue-green color. The boiled vial has lost the blue hue and is more of a pure green (would be yellow green when mixed with beer I am supposing) and the pH 4 vial is a light sky blue with no trace of green. pretty neat experiment actually. If it wasn't a pain to post pics, I'd show one.

My latest idea: Add a small amount of ginger and possibly eucalyptus or something similar to the beer when I brew it. They would serve to round the "seaweed" flavor out to more of a generic "herbal" character. The goal would be to make them background flavors. I'll probably skip the aroma hops if I do this.

What do you think?

PintOfBitter 03-30-2009 09:58 PM

just checked my chemicals - I was using calcium chloride, not carbonate. oops. regardless, I was seeing negligible effects even when adding relatively large amounts to my vial, thus the switch to lemon juice.

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