7 Herbs Used in Craft Brewing

Posted by Courtney Parker, PhD on

We've compiled a handy list of 7 herbs used in making craft beer for your brewing pleasure.

Take a look, and have something to talk about at parties even if you don't currently brew, yourself.

Please note, we will have all of these herbs in stock soon -- as fresh options, as well as hydrosols. (Hydrosols, for those not familiar, are a shelf-stable, herbal water made from distilling herbs). Our hydrosols can provide an easy, extra, umph of aroma as a finishing spray once any brew is poured, adding to the overall experience.

1) Mugwort

If it sounds like something from an ancient Wizard's bag of tricks, you're not really wrong. Ancient brewers were pretty creative and hops only came to dominate the scene once the brew trade became commercialized (mostly because of its preservative properties). Mugwort was used in beer -- and otherwise at times -- specifically to induce prophetic dreaming and astral travel. *Disclaimer: we're not responsible for what you dream after ingesting it; and, you might want to consider staying in your body...but that's your call. Basically, Mugwort keeps you in a state of REM sleep, longer.

2) Wormwood

Famously used in absinthe, and also vermouth, Wormwood has historically been used to make an ale called, 'Purl'. Purl is referred to in some of Charles Dickens' writings such as 'The Old Curiosity Shop'. It was notably popular during Shakespearean times, too. Shakespeare gives it a shout out in his work, 'The Merry Wives of Windsor'. Wormwood is, of course, alleged to be the ingredient which gives absinthe its legendary and unpredictable psychedelic properties -- but we haven't heard any scary urban legends about using it in beer. Keep us posted.

3) Yarrow   **Coming soon -- check our websites and email blasts for updates!

Coming in with a much less scandalous reputation is, Yarrow. Long touted for medicinal properties, it has its own deep roots in historical brewing traditions. Still, Yarrow is also said to add an extra layer of intoxicating properties when brewed into alcohol. And, it's also used and well-known for its sweet, anise-like, flavor -- which is an especially nice addition to lighter ales. Traditionally, Yarrow has also been used as a pain reliever and as a blood coagulant (to stop bleeding).

4) Lemon Balm   **Coming soon...

We already like Lemon Balm because it's a hardy perennial (see our last blog post for details) but it gets super bonus points for being an excellent addition to craft brews as well. It's got that pleasant, citrusy, aroma and taste which can really make or break an ale's appeal and popularity. Lemon Balm has already earned more modern street cred for its use in Belgian wits, Tripels, and blonde ales. If you want to add a distinct but not overpowering citrusy taste, consider Lemon Balm before eyeing any artificial flavor extracts.

5) Lavender

Although some brewers have experimented with Lavender tinctures, it is definitely best added fresh. Lavender is an excellent addition to this list -- (which, btw, we may expand in the future, so keep an eye out). You can also try our Lavender Hydrosol (coming soon -- keep checking our email blasts and website) for your behind-the-bar, bag 'o tricks. Our hydrosol may be spritzed lightly on top of a variety of pale or even darker ales (or, even mocktails, champagne, etc. -- we're all for experimentation) to lend an interesting twist. As obscure as a Lavender ale might sound, it has earned the reputation for having a strong, universal, appeal.

6) Licorice Basil   **Coming soon...

Ancient cultures of India and Persia revered Basil for its strong healing powers. In craft brewing terms, it has notably been added to stronger brews -- and in at least one case, to a porter which was then aged on Palo Santo wood (and sounds extremely heady). It is of course known for its sweet, licorice-like, tasting notes which bring a diverse array of workable options to experiment with. It lends a nice aroma to craft brews while providing a spicy edge and sweet finish -- it's this sort of flavoring which is distinct but flexible enough to work into lighter and darker ales alike with varying intensities.

7) Borage   **Coming soon...

Borage's origins have been traced to Syria and the surrounding Mediterranean Basin; and, it has become naturalized since in many parts of Europe. Also called, 'Stalwort', it is said to 'cheer the spirits' (and, we're going to interpret that literally and figuratively). Homer wrote about it in his 'Odyssey', referring to it as 'Nepenthe' -- which literally translates to 'the one that chases sorrow away'. Borage has been used as a beer flavoring in northern Europe going back to at least medieval times. With its sweet, intensely cucumber-like flavor, Borage was used to make a popular, ancient ale known as "cool tankard".

**Again, if you are especially interested in any of these herbs which we do not *currently* have in stock, stay tuned to our website and blasts for updates.**


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