Thursday, October 14, 2010

Testing Wild / Native Plants and Spices in Beer, Round 1

I have been wanting to test different native plants and spices in some of my beers. I have tried or read about beers that have had these spices in them or something close. But I was very curious what each of these tasted like on their own. So the best way for me to test was to make some teas. If anyone has a better idea let me know.
This is only a first round of testing. I have many more plants and spices that I have collected or have wondered about at the ethnic market.

Round 1:
Common Name: Coriander
Latin Name: Coriandrum sativum
Dosage: 1 tsp with 4 oz boiling water
Usage: Coriander seed oil is an aromatic stimulant, a carminative (remedial in flatulence), an appetizer and a digestant stimulating the stomach and intestines. The seeds are warm, mild and sweetish
My Impression: Taste - Citrus undertone similar to orange peel
Aroma -Nice, sweet, citrus and spice
Color - Pale Yellow

Common Name: Mexican Elderberry Berries (dried)
Latin Name: Sambucus mexicana
Dosage: 1 tsp with 4 oz boiling water 
Usage: Elderberries contain potassium and large amounts of vitamin C, and have been proven in quite a few recent studies to shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms, as well as strengthen the immune system. Elderberries are also a good source of anthocyanins
My Impression: Taste - Nice promegranete tea
Aroma - Light, sweet, fruity
Color - Yellow-brown

Common Name: Pearly Everlasting
Latin Name: gnaphalium Californicum
Dosage: 1 tsp with 4 oz boiling water
Usage: Some Indians used the dry flowers, available for roughly 5 months (July into November), to stuff pillows.  The herbal medicinal uses of Pearly Everlasting are minor.
My Impression: Taste - Herbal tea
Aroma -Tea-like, slightly floral
Color - Light Yellow

Common Name: White Sage
Latin Name:
Salvia apiana
Dosage: 1 Tbs with 4 oz boiling water 
Usage: The white sage offers gardeners many pleasures such as beautiful floral display, strong scents, and bold foliage. Many California Indians believe that the white sage is sacred and use them in purification ceremonies.
My Impression: Taste - Mild sage flavor, a mild bittering
Aroma - Sage!!! great aroma
Color - Pink (not sure how this works)

Common Name:
California Sagebrush
Latin Name: Artimisia Californica
Dosage: 1 tsp with 4 oz boiling water 
Usage: The fruits are eaten by birds and it is a larval plant for butterflies. The blue-green lacy foliage is useful for indigestion and stomach cramps. It can also be used as a scent in a sauna.
My Impression: Taste -Extremely bitter, coats your whole mouth in bitter astringency
Aroma - Great Sage smell, about equal to White Sage
Color - Light brown

Common Name: Douglas Mugwort
Latin Name: Two types:
Artemisia vulgaris (found on East Coast and other Countries)
Artemisia douglasiana (found on the West Coast and what I am using)
Dosage: .05 oz with 4 oz boiling water 
Usage: Mugwort leaves are edible, young leaves are boiled as a pot herb or used in salad, they aid in digestion although said to have a bitter taste. Used for centuries as an alternative medicine, it is antibacterial, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, haemostatic, nervine, purgative, stimulant, stomachic, and tonic, cleansing toxins from the blood.
My Impression: Taste - Extremely bitter, may work with proper dilution (has been used in place of hops)
Aroma - Very minty, menthol (like Vapor Rub)
Color - Brown

I really enjoyed doing this experiment and I think I will dose some of my current beers with some concentrated teas. Stay tuned for Round 2.


  1. although it can get expensive try using saffron in your ale. I did this once and made a saffron IPA and it was the best batch yet. give it a try if you want a very unique beer that people will be eager to try

  2. I actually just bought some saffron at the Indian Market and was trying to think about what type of beer it would work with. How much did you use and when did you add it?
    Also, my wife and I will be traveling to Egypt next month so I'm looking for other ideas of spices to bring back.


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