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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Recipes/Ingredients > How Many People Know What Juniper Tastes Like?

View Poll Results: Do you know what juniper tastes like?
Yes 57 80.28%
No 14 19.72%
Voters: 71. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-05-2011, 06:58 AM   #1
WilliamWS
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Default How Many People Know What Juniper Tastes Like?

Just curious how many people actually are familiar with the taste of juniper. Reason being, I just got back my score sheet from the NHBC and, while I'm not too disappointed in the score for my juniper brown (35), this is the second competition in a row in which the main flavor descriptor from all of the judges was "piney" yet one of the major detractors for all the judges was that they couldn't taste any juniper in the beer.

I'm just wondering what flavor contribution they are expecting juniper to make if not a "piney" flavor. All of the five judges in the two comps attributed the pineyness to copious amounts of American hops and only one mentioned in passing that he supposed that it might be possible that the juniper had blended well enough with the hops to make the two indistinguishable (though he still said he wouldn't have known there was juniper in it had I not labeled it as such).

While I did use a respectable amount of American hops in the beer I think the judges would be surprised if they knew which ones and how much I used. I also know what the juniper tasted like when I picked it at my sister's place in Texas over Christmas, what it tasted like when I added it to the boil, and what it tasted like when I added it to secondary (thinks very sweet Christmas tree). That pineyness in the beer tasted just like my fresh juniper berries (I even tasted them side-by-side), similar to but not quite the same as hop pineyness (and, yes the juniper and hops did blend well-that was the idea). I was actually rather surprised with how much the juniper character came out in the beer.
Just wasn't sure whether maybe most people aren't familiar with the flavor.
I'll also say this much: The only times I've used juniper for anything it's been fresh. It was all over the place where I grew up and is actually pretty tasty. I know dried juniper is most commonly used and I'll admit that I've never tasted the dried stuff. Maybe it has a little different flavor and that's what the judges were expecting. Really not sure.

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Old 05-05-2011, 07:25 AM   #2
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Sorry I don't know what juniper tastes like but I would form the poll in more of descriptive answer. (piney, earthy, oakey and the such) So you can get a description of what people think it is close to.

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Old 05-05-2011, 07:40 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosesdanger View Post
Sorry I don't know what juniper tastes like but I would form the poll in more of descriptive answer. (piney, earthy, oakey and the such) So you can get a description of what people think it is close to.
I was really just more curious as to what percentage of people are familiar with the flavor. Not really interested as much in what people would guess it tastes like.
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Old 05-05-2011, 10:43 AM   #4
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Ever had gin? Juniper is what makes Tanqueray taste like Tanqueray. Go out and find a bottle of Junipero Gin (interestingly enough made by the same folks as Anchor Brewing... and actually in the same building). That's some juniper'y stuff right there.

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Old 05-05-2011, 12:01 PM   #5
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The juniper berries I used were the dried variety you get in the LHBS. I didn't think my pale ale I made with them was anything other than juniper (think gin) tasting. Perhaps the fresh juniper carries some pine flavor with it. Here's my recipe for the 2.5 gallon batch I made this past January.

3 lbs Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM) Dry Extract 81.08 %
4.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 6.76 %
4.0 oz Munich Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 6.76 %
3.2 oz Carapils (1.5 SRM) Grain 5.41 %
10.00 gm Centennial [5.70 %] (60 min) Hops 14.1 IBU
5.00 gm Centennial [5.65 %] (30 min) Hops 5.4 IBU
5.00 gm Cascade [4.60 %] (15 min) Hops 2.8 IBU
5.00 gm Cascade [4.60 %] (0 min) Hops -
0.25 oz Juniper Berrier (Boil 5.0 min) Misc

I did vote yes.

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Old 05-05-2011, 12:14 PM   #6
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When I was a young teen and sneaking cigarettes, I'd pluck a few juniper berries on the way home and chew them to get the smell off my breath. Piney is what I remember, and VERY strong and assertive.

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Old 05-05-2011, 12:34 PM   #7
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My only experience with juniper is in gin as mentioned. However there is a lot of other herbs and botanicals that go into making gin besides just juniper. I responded "no" to the poll for that reason.

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Old 05-05-2011, 12:59 PM   #8
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I've noticed a difference in taste between the berries on the wild juniper trees & the juniper bushes in the yard. It seems to me that different varieties of juniper would produce different characters in their berries, much like the different apple varieties do.
There are a lot of varieties of juniper too: http://www.evergreenplantnursery.com/Juniper-Juniperus-s/22.htm
I have no science or research to back up this theory other than my own limited experience, but it seems like a sound theory to me. Regards, GF.

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Old 05-05-2011, 03:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gratus fermentatio View Post
I've noticed a difference in taste between the berries on the wild juniper trees & the juniper bushes in the yard. It seems to me that different varieties of juniper would produce different characters in their berries, much like the different apple varieties do.
There are a lot of varieties of juniper too: http://www.evergreenplantnursery.com/Juniper-Juniperus-s/22.htm
I have no science or research to back up this theory other than my own limited experience, but it seems like a sound theory to me. Regards, GF.
Yeah, I know there are a ton of different varieties-where I grew up (central Texas) there were at least two that grew wild. But, being an evergreen and the fact that the "berries" are the tree's version of a cone, I'd expect that most would taste fairly piney.
Oh, and just to mention (I don't want to plant any potentially harmful ideas in anyone's head) the berries of some juniper varieties are poisonous. So please don't go around tasting random berries unless you know they're ok for consumption.
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Old 05-05-2011, 11:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WilliamWS View Post
I don't want to plant any potentially harmful ideas in anyone's head) the berries of some juniper varieties are poisonous. So please don't go around tasting random berries unless you know they're ok for consumption.
Good advice.
I make a juniper gravy for my venison from eastern red cedar (Don't confuse the name, its a true juniper: Juniperius Virginiana). While it does taste piny, I would say that verity (at least) is very distinct from pine. Then again, I study trees for a living, so I might be more picky then most.

I would also love to try your brew. Sounds like a great idea.
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