hist-brewing: herbs for old ale

Steve THomas fabricus at hvi.net
Thu Nov 3 15:48:59 PST 2005

   Sweet gale, bog myrtle, is a fine brewing herb. The seeds are very 
resiny, reminiscent of freshly sawn douglas fir wood with an admixture 
of nutmeg.  The leaves are fruity aromaed with a tannic tea-like 
character.  I reccomend it highly for both beer and mead.
   Yarrow I don't find appealing; fresh it has a nice smell, but boiled, 
it tastes like boiled weeds.
   Wormwood has a nice aroma (some plants noticeably better than others) 
but it's astoundingly hitter. Unlike hops, the bitterness attacks early 
in the taste and lasts long after the swallow. I have woken up with the 
bitterness of the prior evening's wormwood beverage in my mouth. My next 
attempt I will steam-distill wormwood to collect the volatile oils, in 
hope of being able to separate the aroma from the bitterness.  Although 
I love the aroma, I can't recommend wormwood.  Chinese wormwood has 
similar aromatics and is less bitter; it might be a better prospect.

             ---Steve Thomas

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