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Herbs that can be added to Beer?

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BrewFrick

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Does anyone have any experience with brewing using herbs?

Not spices like cinnamon and cloves, but herbs like oregano, basil, mint, etc.

I am particularly interested in brewing with rosemary and wondering if anyone has info on this.
 

david_42

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Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation is a good reference. Rosemary can't be too different from using spruce. "1 pound of the outer twigs of spruce fir at 15 minutes" is typical.
 

Whelk

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Medieval style beers (called grout or gruit) were make without hops, but without some kind of bittering herb, they were wicked sweet and went bad fast. Sometimes they used stuff like heather, so you can use more or less anything. Let me know how it turns out, I really want to try this kind of stuff.
 

Fish

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Juniper berries have been used as well. Actually I know garlic beer has been around for a while.
 

Pumbaa

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BYO had an artical on Gruit a while back, thats what gave me the idea for my sasparilla (rootbeer) ale. I have had heather and rosemarry beers . . . I'll pass next time
 

RoaringBrewer

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papazian's bible has a yarrow ale recipe (no hops, just yarrow for bittering) I've been wanting to try... finding fresh yarrow isn't the easiest though...
 

DontDrinkAndDrum

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might anyone know anything about brewing with tea leaves (i.e. green) and/or would it be something that would taste good? i like green tea and so i figured maybe a green tea beer might be up my alley
 

GoatFarmersInternational

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David42 is right to mention Buhner's "Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers"... It is a pretty good read and gives some insight into how the rise of civilisation and man's use of fermentation are inextricably linked together.
I would be cautious using yarrow; it can indeed be pleasantly inebriating when mixed in solution with alcohol, but the after affects can be quite unpleasant.
Also know that one cannot use just any herb instead of hops, or the beer will eventually spoil. Hops was originally used because of its antiseptic properties, so when substituting a different herb, you should also choose one that has antiseptic properties, like yarrow or wormwood. Brewing with rosemary would be fine, but brewing with rosemary instead of hops could pose problems. I'm a tad buzzed, so I hope that all makes sense. At any rate, good luck, and share your findings.
 
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BrewFrick

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Well I would be using these herbs in addition to the hops, with and adjusted hop schedule to let the herbal flavors into the finished beer a bit. I was thinking about Rosemary or Ginko bark in the beer. I am wanting to brew with these things because they are herbal asthma cures and I have a touch of asthma, so brewing a beer that might make my asthma a little better is the goal here.

And yes, you will not likely be able to find fresh yarrow unless you grow it or you have an herb/wicca shop that locally grows their herbs and flowers. We have one little one here in Tulsa that has a whole backlot full of these things growing like crazy every spring, and that is where I plan on getting the ginko bark too.
 

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SilkkyBrew said:
papazian's bible has a yarrow ale recipe (no hops, just yarrow for bittering) I've been wanting to try... finding fresh yarrow isn't the easiest though...

Silkky, you can find it in the summer here in PA. I can even send you seed if you want to grow it. It is prolific.

Tansy is another plant that can be used, with caution. Wormwood has been mentioned, but contrary to popular belief there is no cautionary there though as the levels of Thujone in Sage are actually higher, but it is incredibly bitter.
 

GoatFarmersInternational

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I mentioned wormwood as really more of an example of a bittering herb that also has antiseptic properties. I would be weary of using it in beer, as it is just about the most foul tasting thing you can imagine.
I think that both rosemary and ginko have possibilities for use in beer, though I don't have any recipes for you offhand (perhaps somebody else does?). I would suggest using ginko quite sparingly; I believe its flavor to be potent.
Perhaps you have the means to make some 1 gal test batches?
 

RoaringBrewer

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zoebisch01 said:
Silkky, you can find it in the summer here in PA. I can even send you seed if you want to grow it. It is prolific.
That would be sweet...

Now, someone mentioned after-effects of drinking yarrow beer. What are these?! :cross:
 

XELA

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alot of herbs like Salvia Divinorum can be made into tea cant it?

how about mugwort AKA the dreaming herb!?,
maybe not in replacment of hops, jus as an addition?
like it could go into secondary or after the boil?

also i heard absynth was made with wormwood, true?
 

GoatFarmersInternational

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SilkkyBrew said:
Now, someone mentioned after-effects of drinking yarrow beer. What are these?! :cross:
Well, there are little to none if you don't over-indulge. I'd say limiting yourself to no more than three or four yarrow beers would be sensible, depending on the amount of yarrow used. Over-indulgence can result in the usual; really bad hangovers, coma, death - that sort of thing. Also, if you make a yarrow beer, I believe you should use the whole of the above-ground plant, while it is flowering. I would suggest a little research before making this one. I have yet to make it myself, I should mention, so I'm really just reporting hearsay. I do plan on making it late this spring, although my recipe will be stronger (and hopefully better tasting) than the one from Buhner's "Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers" (p. 184)

A lot of herbs can be made into tea; that is one way of infusing herb flavors into beer. I think that late boil additions or dry hopping in the secondary would add more flavor, though that could be potentially undesirable depending on the herb used. Salvia divinorum could be made into a tea if you really like the taste or something, but I'm pretty sure that simply ingesting would lend little to none of the, er, desired effects (I think you have to actually hold the leaves in your mouth for a little while or chew them - not an activity for novices, btw, it's rather different than just smoking it).
I don't see why a mugwort tea or late boil addition wouldn't work if you want crazy mugwort dreams while you are having crazy drunk dreams.
 

XELA

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"I don't see why a mugwort tea or late boil addition wouldn't work if you want crazy mugwort dreams while you are having crazy drunk dreams."

might give some kool lucid dreams about brewing an gettin drunk.. who knows.. i should have some mugwort and worm wood later today anyways!

think ill boil the herbs seperatly cool and add to the fermenter after everythin else! :D

see what happens
 

GoatFarmersInternational

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XELA said:
i should have some mugwort and worm wood later today anyways!

think ill boil the herbs seperatly cool and add to the fermenter after everythin else! :D

see what happens
I would think twice about using wormwood in your beer; it really really tastes nasty and I'd hate to see an otherwise good beer rendered unpalatable. My suggestion would be to brew yourself a little wormwood tea, say a rounded tablespoon put in a teabag and steeped for five minutes. You'll probably want to add some other strong tea and a lot of honey to this concoction to make it drinkable (it will still taste bad, though). After you've had your mug of tea, then decide if it is something that you want to use in your beer (on a side note, wormwood tea is quite pleasant in its effects, but it just tastes sooooo awful)

Good luck, let us know how it turns out
 

XELA

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lol, ill smoke the worm wood :D

just planning on makin a mugwort beer! how can i make a concentrated mugwort juice to go in at secondary ?
 

GoatFarmersInternational

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XELA said:
lol, ill smoke the worm wood :D

just planning on makin a mugwort beer! how can i make a concentrated mugwort juice to go in at secondary ?
Thank god, I think that would have been just terrible.

regarding the mugwort, I would use it as a late boil addition as opposed to dry hopping or making a concentrated tea and adding that to the secondary. But I've never used it, so I don't actually know what is best.

Of course, what with the wormy smoking and all, you'll probably just be spending the next couple of hours staring at the bathroom mirror and laughing at yourself or something :fro:

have fun, be careful;)
 

XELA

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i read that mugwort was used in beer instead of hops some time ago??

i think ill have some hoppy goodness to tho,

cheers!
 

Schlenkerla

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BrewFrick said:
Does anyone have any experience with brewing using herbs?

Not spices like cinnamon and cloves, but herbs like oregano, basil, mint, etc.

I am particularly interested in brewing with rosemary and wondering if anyone has info on this.

I thought of this too. I like the smell of rosemary. I have a book called the "The Homebrewers Garden", in the herb section under rosemary one sprig is suggested for 5 gallons. I thought OK whats a sprig? I guess a 4-6" limb off the plant.

I don't think I would do the 60 minute boil without rosemary. Start out conservative. I would hop lightly, maybe w/ Northern Brewer, and use rosemary as a late addition, something less than 15 minutes. I would try it with about 6lbs of x-tra light or light DME. Maybe steep w/ 8oz L20 and 8 oz Carapils.

My guess fresh rosemary will be the strongest aroma & taste wise compared to dry.
 

zoebisch01

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Oh let's not forget sweet woodruff. But this is often used as an addition at serving time though.
 

XELA

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whats woodruff? never heard of it

ah nevermind.. looked it up :D
 

pirate252

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WE just tried some coriander seed in our pale, and some sweet gale in our holiday we just brewed, I will let you know if this thread is still alive how those taste here in a few weeks.
 

Erbium:YAG

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XELA said:
whats woodruff? never heard of it

ah nevermind.. looked it up :D

If you like sweet wines, pick up a bottle of German May Wine. It's fermented with woodruff. The taste is hard to explain other than herbal; but it blends well with the wine.
 

Erbium:YAG

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Saffron is actually quite good in beer. Dogfish Head makes a beer called Midas Touch with saffron as an ingredient and it is rather good.
 

RoaringBrewer

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Hrm. Woodruff...

From Wiki:
Woodruff, as the scientific name odoratum suggests, is a strongly scented plant, the sweet scent being derived from coumarin. This scent increases on wilting and then persists on drying, and woodruff is used in pot-pourri and as a moth deterrent. It is also used, mainly in Germany, to flavour wine (Maiwein), beer (Berliner Weisse), brandy, sausages and jam, and to make a herbal tea with gentle sedative properties.

High doses can cause headaches, and very high doses (far beyond those found in the afore-mentioned drinks) can even have mind-altering properties, as well as vertigo, somnolence or even central paralysis and apnoea while in a coma; so, some common sense should be applied when consuming woodruff. Three grams of woodruff per litre of Maiwein is considered safe in Germany.
 

zoebisch01

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Yeah that's the stuff. As with most of these herbals there are in general safe limits. Common sense is usually a good guide in terms of how much to use, and anyone looking for anything but flavoring will most likely be exceeding safe amounts. If you use them like you would most other herbs, you'll be ok. I think it is a cool avenue to experiment in, within reason. Just don't confuse Water Hemlock for Tansy and you'll be in good shape :cross:
 

Schlenkerla

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GoatFarmersInternational said:
I would think twice about using wormwood in your beer; it really really tastes nasty and I'd hate to see an otherwise good beer rendered unpalatable.
Angelica - Carcinogen, mutagen

Sweet Gale or Bog Myrtle - Suspected Carcinogen.

Comfrey - Suspected Carcinogen.

Mugwort - Poisonous. Banned by the FDA.

Pennyroyal - Poisonous if taken internally.

Tansy - Poisonous if taken internally. Lethal in large doses.

Thorn Apple - Very Poisonous. Contact Poison; wear gloves when handling. Can be lethal.

Wormwood - Poisonous if taken internally. Cause Convulsions in large doses. Central nervous system poison.


I copied this from "The Homebrewers Garden". Verbatum. Written by Fisher & Fisher. ISBN 1-58017-010-2
 

Schlenkerla

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BrewFrick said:
Does anyone have any experience with brewing using herbs?

Not spices like cinnamon and cloves, but herbs like oregano, basil, mint, etc.

I am particularly interested in brewing with rosemary and wondering if anyone has info on this.

Now that I have the book in front of me..... with regards to Rosemary

"Use 1.5 oz fresh leaves. Late in the boil for flavor and aroma. Use for dry hopping to add a strong piney scent to beer."​


Hope this helps.
 

GoatFarmersInternational

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Schlenkerla said:
Angelica - Carcinogen, mutagen

Sweet Gale or Bog Myrtle - Suspected Carcinogen.

Comfrey - Suspected Carcinogen.

Mugwort - Poisonous. Banned by the FDA.

Pennyroyal - Poisonous if taken internally.

Tansy - Poisonous if taken internally. Lethal in large doses.

Thorn Apple - Very Poisonous. Contact Poison; wear gloves when handling. Can be lethal.

Wormwood - Poisonous if taken internally. Cause Convulsions in large doses. Central nervous system poison.


I copied this from "The Homebrewers Garden". Verbatum. Written by Fisher & Fisher. ISBN 1-58017-010-2

Well, you might well add "Alcohol - poisonous if taken internally. Lethal in large doses."

It is true that the herbs mentioned in this list demand a certain level of respect, and you should do some reseach before using them, but to just label them all as poisonous seems like puritanical paranoia to me. For instance, people brewed ales using sweet gale for hundreds of years before the widespread use of hops. I mean, sh!t, name a product in your medicine cabinet that isn't potentially carcinogenic, or potentially causes liver damage, or stomach bleeding, etc.
 

Schlenkerla

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GoatFarmersInternational said:
Well, you might well add "Alcohol - poisonous if taken internally. Lethal in large doses."

It is true that the herbs mentioned in this list demand a certain level of respect, and you should do some reseach before using them, but to just label them all as poisonous seems like puritanical paranoia to me. For instance, people brewed ales using sweet gale for hundreds of years before the widespread use of hops. I mean, sh!t, name a product in your medicine cabinet that isn't potentially carcinogenic, or potentially causes liver damage, or stomach bleeding, etc.

I read this thread and thought a warning is in order for those that are ignorant of the risks.

I'll give you this. The author lists them as dubious plants. They note they are used in traditional recipes. Just because it was done in the past doesn't mean its safe.

Many things are poisonous in large doses. Large is a relative term though. 2 grams is large compared to 2 milligrams. Your right too much of any one thing is not good, water if you drink too much at one time can kill you.

If you choose to use them you now know they could be risky.

Out of a hundred or so herbs to choose from these should be at the bottom of the list.
 

GoatFarmersInternational

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Schlenkerla said:
I read this thread and thought a warning is in order for those that are ignorant of the risks.

I'll give you this. The author lists them as dubious plants. They note they are used in traditional recipes. Just because it was done in the past doesn't mean its safe.

Many things are poisonous in large doses. Large is a relative term though. 2 grams is large compared to 2 milligrams. Your right too much of any one thing is not good, water if you drink too much at one time can kill you.

If you choose to use them you now know they could be risky.

Out of a hundred or so herbs to choose from these should be at the bottom of the list.
Fair enough; the bottom line is that if you plan on using any of these herbs, you need to do some research before hand. Batches of beer that are brewed with a couple of grams of sweet gale (which is usually how it is sold - by the gram) are in my opinion fairly benign, especially when compared with all of the other crap that we subject out bodies to on a daily basis... Just to give them the blanket label of "suspected carcinogen" or "poison" is just too much of an oversimplification for me.
 

GoatFarmersInternational

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Schlenkerla said:
I read this thread and thought a warning is in order for those that are ignorant of the risks.
And you were absolutely right to do so. I hope that I didn't seem confrontational towards you Schlen. It's just that pharmacology, herbology, and beer are just some subjects that I am quite interested in, and whenever they intersect, I get a little passionate (or stupid, depending on the point of view) :mug:
 

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Horehound was supposedly used before Hops. . Even more bitter than Hops. I bought some, but never tired it in brew. The tea is pretty bitter. I do like Horehound drops, but they are more sugar than spice...
 

Schlenkerla

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GoatFarmersInternational said:
I hope that I didn't seem confrontational towards you Schlen. It's just that pharmacology, herbology, and beer are just some subjects that I am quite interested in, and whenever they intersect, I get a little passionate (or stupid, depending on the point of view) :mug:
Its not a big deal. All of us are passonate about brewing. The worst thing about written responses is that you don't get the tone and inflection so some comments are misunderstood.

:mug:
 
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