experimental beers with a botanical twist

Sloe Stout

Brewed on 6 July 2018 in London, with sloes picked and frozen the previous year.

Prunus spinosa
Blackthorn, from a print by by Otto Wilhelm Thomé (1885)

The blackthorn is one of those archetypal European plants, used since time immemorial to flavor alcohol:

The fruit is similar to a small damson or plum, suitable for preserves, but rather tart and astringent for eating, unless it is picked after the first few days of autumn frost. This effect can be reproduced by freezing harvested sloes.

The juice is used in the manufacture of fake port wine, and used as an adulterant to impart roughness to genuine port. In rural Britain a liqueur, “sloe gin”, is made by infusing gin with sloes and sugar. Vodka can also be infused with sloes.

In Navarre, Spain, a popular liqueur called pacharán is made with sloes. In France a similar liqueur called épine or épinette or troussepinette is made from the young shoots in spring. In Italy, the infusion of spirit with the fruits and sugar produces a liqueur called bargnolino (or sometimes prunella)—as well as in France where it is called “prunelle” (also the common name of the shrub) or “veine d’épine noire”. Wine made from fermented sloes is made in Britain, and in Germany and other central European countries.

Due to sloes’ legendary bitterness, I was cautious with how much I added. If I make this again, I’ll add quite a bit more. I added juniper berries too, because gin.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
12 L 60 min 36.6 IBUs 47.2 SRM 1.073 1.015 7.8 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Maris Otter Pale - UK 2 kg 51.09
Crystal 140L - UK 250 g 6.39
Malted Naked Oats - UK 250 g 6.39
Munich - UK 250 g 6.39
Special B - BE 250 g 6.39
Chocolate - UK 130 g 3.32
Smoked Malt - DE 130 g 3.32
Wheat Malt - DE 130 g 3.32
Rye - DE 125 g 3.19
Black Malt - UK 50 g 1.28
Roasted Barley - UK 50 g 1.28
Molasses - US 300 g 7.66

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Bramling Cross 20 g 60 min Boil Pellet 6
Willamette 20 g 15 min Boil Pellet 5
Bramling Cross 10 g 10 min Boil Pellet 6

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
sloes, frozen and thawed 7.05 oz 0 min Secondary Other
juniper berries, crushed 0.35 oz 0 min Secondary Other

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Fermentis Safale S-04 75% 17.78°C - 20.56°C

Notes

A stout with sloes and juniper berries (both pasteurized in a hop bag with two quarts of drawn-off beer as it is racked into the secondary). I used UK treacle instead of molasses.


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