hist-brewing: brewing with herbs

Bill Velek billvelek at alltel.net
Mon Aug 27 09:25:05 PDT 2007

Joanna wrote:

> I've done a nettle braggot that was really interesting.   ... snip
> We're planning to try yarrow beer/braggot as soon as we're done harvesting 
> them. I like using a braggot recipe because I think the additional honey 
> enhances the herb's qualities, but that's just my hunch. Catnip braggot is 
> on the list too, hoping to get a relaxing beer.

You mentioned harvesting yarrow.  Do you grow all your herbs or do you 
buy some of them?  Since I have absolutely no experience with either 
growing herbs or using them in beer, I have a few concerns and questions.

First, it would make absolutely no sense for me to start growing herbs 
for beer if I don't even know whether I will like the beer and want to 
brew them again.  So clearly, the first order of business is for me to 
experiment with some herb beers this fall and winter before planting 
time in the spring, so that's what I'm planning to do.  However, I don't 
know if herbs need to be fresh or if I can just use something I can get 
at the store; will that make any difference?

Second, assuming that I do like various herb beers -- (I use that term 
collectively to include all brews with herbs including gruit, braggot, 
or whatever) -- then the questions is whether 'fresh' herbs really make 
any difference in the quality of beer when compared to store bought, and 
if not, then what advantage is there to growing my own except for herbs 
that I can't find in the store?  Of course, it would be pretty cool to 
have a few potted plants on the window sill, and then be able to pick a 
few leaves as needed.

The bottom line is that I don't really know what to expect, so I had 
hoped to get a short summary of the advantages and merits of growing my 
own herbs.  Any input would be appreciated, and I encourage you to send 
a copy of any response to Grow-Hops at yahoogroups.com -- and I'm taking 
the liberty of cross-posting this reply there, too, so that I can reach 
others with my questions.


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