Interesting herbs and spices

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daveooph131

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Hey guys, I'm thinking about trying some expirments, but wanted to see if anyone had tried some of the things I'm thinking about.

1) Heather Tips - Anyone use these, what profile do you get, how much should I use per 5g?

2) Hibiscus - Same things what is it like, how much should I use?


I think this could make an interesting profile for a pale ale or blond.
 

Suthrncomfrt1884

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I haven't personally brewed with either of these, but I am somewhat familiar with odd spices and herbs in my beer. My Homebrewer's garden book has this to say about heather... unfortunately there's nothing in it about Hibiscus.

Heather tips - Heather imparts a spicy, complex bitterness and a deep purplecolor to beer. Use 1-5cups (.2-1.1L) of flowers late in theboil for flavoring and aroma. Add one more cup (.2L) of flowers dry hopped during the fermentation stage for a purple color and a strong heather flavoring.
 

Chips

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I had a Scottish Heather beer once. Apparently it used to be a common beer ingredient in the old days before hops were used. At least that's the story they told on the bottle anyways.

As a tasting note, the beer was delicious. I recently had a beer with a 'mystery ingredient' that we had to guess what it was. I swore it was Heather tips, but it ended up being Lavender. Weird, but still surprisingly tasty.

Where are you getting your Heather tips from?
 

glockentalk

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A really great book is Sacred and herbal healing beers by Buhner. I have made a fair number of herbal beers. I highly recommend nettles and dandelions: they have a very nice mild effect on the beer. I have made gruit-like beer using Labrador tea and yarrow, to good effect. I plan to pick up some bog myrtle soon, so I will have the big three herbs of gruit beer. These herbs are stimulant, whereas hops are soporofic. I took a keg of my gruit to a family reunion, and it was great to see everyone get a lift. I'll have to take more next time: the keg was gone in under an hour.
 

glockentalk

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I should say that I do not follow Buhner's recipes. I just use the herbs in my regular brewing process.
 

Suthrncomfrt1884

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I had a Scottish Heather beer once. Apparently it used to be a common beer ingredient in the old days before hops were used. At least that's the story they told on the bottle anyways.

As a tasting note, the beer was delicious. I recently had a beer with a 'mystery ingredient' that we had to guess what it was. I swore it was Heather tips, but it ended up being Lavender. Weird, but still surprisingly tasty.

Where are you getting your Heather tips from?
This is correct. I do a lot of reading on the history of beer, and this is something that has come up a few times. A lot of herbs used in beer now were once used for bittering potential before the hop became widely used.

I've made dandelion stouts, Juniper IPA's, and a few others. We get a ton of thistle in my area (as well as most other areas I'm sure), and from what I've read, it can be very nice in beer. I'm looking forward to brewing with it this spring before my yard gets sprayed for weeds. I use organic sprays, but I don't want to risk using thistle that's been tainted. At elast I've finally found something that PITA weed is good for...
 

LeftyGorilla

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hibiscus is very strong and very dark a little should go a long way.

You can get it at health food stores, frontier herbs has high quality loose leaf.

Maybe a teabag worth for a gallon?
 
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daveooph131

daveooph131

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I had a Scottish Heather beer once. Apparently it used to be a common beer ingredient in the old days before hops were used. At least that's the story they told on the bottle anyways.

As a tasting note, the beer was delicious. I recently had a beer with a 'mystery ingredient' that we had to guess what it was. I swore it was Heather tips, but it ended up being Lavender. Weird, but still surprisingly tasty.

Where are you getting your Heather tips from?
I found them on austinhomebrew.com
 

Chips

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See if you can find a bottle of Fraoch, it is a heather beer. That way you can see if you like the idea of heather in your beer.
Yes, that is the beer I had! Quite a unique treat if you can find it. I believe the sell it around here (Ontario) around this time of year at the LCBO packaged up as a Christmas gift pack. I think I'll try to pick up a little 'gift' for myself the next time I'm there!
 

glockentalk

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I collect labrador tea and yarrow where I live. I have also ordered them from here. A local greenhouse sells bog myrtle as a green for Christmas wreaths.
 

keesimps

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Thanks glockentalk,

I found Yarrow here:
http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/search/search.php?refine=y&keywords=yarrow&x=0&y=0

and Sweet Gale here:
http://new.midwestsupplies.com/sweet-gale-1-4-oz.html

No luck with the Labrador Tea though. I'll post a link if I come across some though.
Mountain Rose is a great place to get your herbs at; that's where I get all of my necessary items... In fact, you can usually end up getting 3-4 ounces for the price that you'd pay at a local herb store! I also recommend Sacred & Herbal Healing Beers and use it as a great reference and then create my own recipes from there. In regards to the heather, I recently tried to do a heather ale (which you can also get at Mountain Rose - http://www.mountainroseherbs.com for a great price), but tried to make it more celtic and traditional with herbs that they would have used and something gave it this odd grapefruit flavor, so I have to isolate that and then try again; it's hit or miss sometimes... I have seen the recipe for Fraoch online; I believe it was originally posted in BYO if you want to make a clone or use that as a basis. Good luck and let us know how it turns out!
 

bonsai4tim

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just a comment on lavender, mentioned several posts back. I made 2.5 gallon batch with 1 oz lavender, and it was horrible, even after aging for 2 months. 1 oz was less than 1/2 the recommended amount in the "sacred and healing" beer book.

If you are even considering lavender, you might want to use only a teaspoon in 2.5 gallons or 2 tsp in 5 gallons.
 

PanzerBanana

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Heather is an interesting addition. If you can find it, try Fraoch. It's a Scottish beer made with Heather.

I'd watch out with Hibiscus though. See if you've got a grocery that sells dried Hibiscus(Jamaica) with some of their Mexican items. It's good, but some of the hibiscus teas that I've had end up being rather tart.

I also have to agree with the chap about Lavender. It makes for a fine tea or a pleasant spicy accent with other herbs. On it's own it's very potent and if it's too strong, it's not very pleasant at all. I added some to a bottle of mead to see what it would be like...not such a great idea.
 

dwarven_stout

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I've used lavender in several small-batch beers now. I've had my best success in adding about a teaspoon per gallon of english culinary lavender in the fermenter rather than in the boil. If left too long it can develop a vegetal, grassy taste, though, so I'd do it in the secondary for a few days.

There's a very good recipe on this forum for basil IPA. I've made it a few times and have been tweaking it to my own tastes

There's also a mint stout recipe on this forum that is well-reviewed.
 

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