hist-brewing: Traditional Aromatics

Abby, Ellen and Alan elal at pei.sympatico.ca
Sat Oct 14 03:44:08 PDT 2000


Hi Irshlassie,

I'm glad no offence was taken concerning the wiccan comment, as none was
meant.   I was only meaning to contrast reasons interests in the
traditional crafts and introduce our groups relatively shallow one.   We
like ale, soccer and road hockey, ale, large veggie gardens, ale,
playing in garage bands and the odd ale.   

I am especially interested in heather ale, being a son of Scots
immigrants.   I have had a brewery verion from Scotland and have found a
source for the buds but would be interested to know the technique for
adding.  Is it merely added as a bitter, flavour and aroma additive with
the same timing as hops or is a different technique used?   

Also, is freshly picked heather reliable?   I have access to an area
where starting around 1750 Scots Highlanders soldiers apparently camped
in Nova Scotia and a heather patch has existed ever since.   It is
presumed that the heather seed was in their bedding or gear.

What other traditional non-hops bittering agents are available as well?
Would there have been, for example, vegetable brews in traditional rural
communities where the purchase of malt would have been beyond the
budget?  I can't imagine there not being.  In Tayleur's "Home Brewing
and Wine Making" (Pengiun, 1973) he discusses country wines such as
parsnip, tree sap and even oak leaf.  Is there any records of beer
strength beverages from such sources?   If so what were the flavouring /
bittering agents used?   Or is hop bitterness a by-product of its
primarily desired sterilizing properties?

I intend to add hops to the produce list for the back acre and would
like to plant older types.   Near here is a 1880's roadside tavern that
is owned by a friend and he has hops in the back which grow naturally. 
There are likely few other naturalized hops on the Island.   I
understand that they were brought here to PEI from England by a fellow
called George Coles who ran a brewery and a string of pubs in the
1800's.  I do not know the variety of the hops yet but expect that,
without any crossing for 140 years or so, they may be relatively true to
the style.   Is there any advice on moving and propogating these plants?

So many questions...


Alan Mcleod
New Glasgow,
Prince Edward Island

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