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Old 04-01-2013, 05:54 PM   #1
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Default Chinese star anise (illicium verum) in pale. bad hangover? killed yeast?

One of our customers purchased a munton's american light kit from us, and said he was going to put star anise in it. we advised him that star anise is VERY strong in flavor and he may want to use in moderation.

He called in this morning and said that his beer did not carbonate after 3 weeks and gave him a horrible hangover on the two separate days that he drank it. We have verified that he did use CHINESE star anise (illicium verum) and NOT JAPANESE star anise, which can be toxic.

He said that he put the star pods in a blender and turned them to dust, then threw them in boiling water and then tossed all into his 5 gallon batch at time of pitching yeast. he said that when he adds his sugar for priming he always gets a bit of foam, this time, no reaction. further, after conditioning for 3 weeks there was still no carbonation. says it tastes awful and causes horrid hangover.

what is going on here?

I did read that star anise can be anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and harmful to yeast when researching online medical sites. but barring the use of japanese anise, there should be not ill effects for humans when using chinese anise.

i have also seen many beer recipes that call for use of star anise. so i'm assuming that his one oz addition of anise, while a strange choice in taste, should not have had any undesired effects of yeast or his health.

appreciate any speedy replies, as we have told him we will consult the larger brewing community and call back with our findings.

thanks,
Amarillo Brewing Supply

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Old 04-01-2013, 06:34 PM   #2
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You say he added it when he pitched his yeast. If it fermented then the anise certainly didn't kill the yeast, so I would expect his carbing issue is unrelated. The taste could be that he added too much or something entirely different. I suspect the hangovers may be from fermenting at too high of a temperature and getting fusel alcohols. Without knowing his exact process from brewing through fermentation through bottling it's really impossible to narrow it down any more than that.

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Old 04-02-2013, 05:24 AM   #3
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Talked to this customer again, and got some clarification.

He did not put the anise in at the time of yeast pitch. he fermented primary as normal for 7 days, then racked into secondary. he let set in secondary 5 days then threw in his mixture of star anise that he ground in a blender then boiled in water. sounds like he used one half or three quarter oz in his secondary at day 5 then racked into bottles on day 8.

we called the company that was on his star anise label. they assured us that it is 100% Chinese anise. we also called poison control. they told us that there is no danger from chinese anise, and that japanese anise is not dangerous, just not good. said it causes stomach discomfort and has stimulant effects. the guy on poison control said "well.. if he drank beer and got a hangover, then yea, he was poisoned, just not by the anise"

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Old 04-02-2013, 05:37 AM   #4
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It sounds like he did a piss poor job of treating his yeast well. Sounds like fusels and other higher alcohols from poor fermentation and before he believes his methods are to blame, he blames the anise. As an experienced Jager and Ouzo drinker, I would say the anise is not to blame for the hangover.

Perhaps this batch just got away from him. And he might just be intolerant of anise?

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