juniper berries

“A juniper berry is the female seed cone produced by the various species of junipers,” says the Wikipedia. Unfortunately, the juniper outside my door is male, but juniper berries are readily available in homebrew shops and elsewhere. They seem to retain their quality in storage nearly indefinitely.

A good rule of thumb for brewers: any herb or spice used in gin may also be used in beer to good effect, often in the very same blends and proportions.

Sloe Stout

Sloe Stout

Brewed on 6 July 2018 in London, with sloes picked and frozen the previous year. I added juniper berries too, because gin.

Belgian Gale Ale

Belgian Gale Ale

Sweet gale or bog myrtle is a classic northern European gruit ingredient.

Abbey Gruit Ale

Abbey Gruit Ale

One of my typical gruit blends meets White Labs Trappist Ale (aka Monastery) yeast.

Sweetfern Red Ale

Sweetfern Red Ale

This experiment confirms that Comptonia peregrina is the best all-around native North American “hop substitute” I’ve ever used.

Sweetfern Chamomile Gruit Ale

Sweetfern Chamomile Gruit Ale

My first new experiment worth writing up since last year’s Pennsylvania Native Plant Gruit Beer, where I first tried brewing with sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina) in a big way. This time I combined it with some other reliable brewing herbs for a trans-Atlantic gruit.

Sassafras-Black Birch Beer

Sassafras-Black Birch Beer

Sassafras and black birch (i.e. wintergreen, more or less) are the dominant notes here; the other flavors blend into a citrusy background. This is a refreshing, summery drink, a bit acidic — imagine a cross between unsweetened herb tea and a nice mild ale.

Juniper-Yarrow ESB (Extra Scandinavian Bitter)

Juniper-Yarrow ESB (Extra Scandinavian Bitter)

Is there such a thing as a juniper head (like a hop head)? I think I could become one.

Ground Ivy Gruit Ale

Ground Ivy Gruit Ale

I’ve never found ground ivy to be anywhere near as bitter as the books say, but it could be the wild stuff I use tastes different from British or cultivated varieties.

Juniper-Ginger Beer

Juniper-Ginger Beer

Juniper forms the dominant note, resiny and vaguely citrusy, supported by the camphor quality of yarrow and the spiciness of ginger. The bitterness is mild, equivalent roughly to a standard wheat beer.

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.