calamus

AKA sweet flag, Acorus calamus. An Asian native widely naturalized in Europe and North America for its medicinal properties. The rhizomes are incredibly aromatic. “In Europe Acorus calamus was often added to wine, and the root is also one of the possible ingredients of absinthe. It is also used in bitters.” (Wikipedia)

A 1968 study raised some serious safety concerns, though these are disputed. Here’s WebMD: “Calamus is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth. The FDA prohibits calamus use in food products because three of the four species of calamus found in the world contain a cancer–causing chemical called beta-asarone. However, the amount of beta-asarone can vary widely among species from 0% to 96%, so some products may be safer than others. The most common side effect to calamus is vomiting although fast heart rate and slowed intestinal movements have also been reported.” For what it’s worth, I’ve never experienced any adverse effects from drinking beer with calamus in it.

Appalachian True Root Beer

Appalachian True Root Beer

A hopped alcoholic root beer with mostly wild-harvested roots and herbs and a bock-ish grain bill.

Pennsylvania Native Plant Gruit Beer

Pennsylvania Native Plant Gruit Beer

A malt-forward, porter-like beer with a nicely balanced blend of root-beerish flavors

Brewing with red raspberries: two approaches

Brewing with red raspberries: two approaches

Red raspberry imperial mugwort stout and raspberry-black currant wheat beer.

Alcoholic root beer, Prohibition-style

Alcoholic root beer, Prohibition-style

A light, refreshing, warming beverage with a very well-balanced flavor profile. Does it taste like root beer? Not really; there’s nothing caramelly about it. More like a spiced pilsner.

Sweet flag

Sweet flag

The aroma was unmistakable, musky and strong, with hints of nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon—the quintessence of spice.

Calaguala Ale

Calaguala Ale

Calaguala, A.K.A. samambaia, is a tropical fern with many healing properties. Combined with cinchona bark — herbal quinine — this ought to be “good for what ales you.”

Yarrow Gruit Braggot Ale

Yarrow Gruit Braggot Ale

Braggot is half beer, half mead. I brewed this way back on July 24, 2002, when honey was cheap and when my technique involved a LOT of herbs, usually including roasted dandelion root.