hist-brewing: brewing with herbs

Joanna jbmail at isomedia.com
Tue Aug 28 20:57:09 PDT 2007

Right now we have a huge yarrow patch that I planted last year. I got too
busy to keep up harvesting the flowers, so I may end up buying some to round
it out a bit. The nettles grow all over our property and we pick them to dry 
for tea, and eat the fresh tops steamed, in the spring.

We're trying to get a sustainable small stead going, so a lot of herbs is a 
part of that. We also plan to have a beehive next spring so we are planting 
tea/brewing/culinary/medicinal herbs for them too.

As for fresh vs.dried herbs, I don't have enough experience to draw any 
conclusions. I used fresh nettles for my first braggot, and it turned out 
very "herbal". I think using fresh herbs gives you more of the essence and 
medicinal qualities of the herb you're using. That being said, I used dried 
heather flowers (from a mail order company) for mead and noticed distinct 
'medicinal' effects.

So I would say buy the best quality herbs you can, either dried or fresh 
(farmer's market?) and see if you like it. If it meets your quality control 
standards, then no need to plant a huge herb garden. If you don't like it, 
it could be that particular herb isn't the right flavor for your tastes, or 
maybe it's worth seeking out a source for fresh supplies and trying a batch. 
This company has good quality products - http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/

-Joanna of Seven Trees

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bill Velek" <billvelek at alltel.net>
To: "Joanna" <jbmail at isomedia.com>; <hist-brewing at pbm.com>;
<Grow-Hops at yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Monday, August 27, 2007 9:25 AM
Subject: Re: hist-brewing: brewing with herbs

> 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.
> Thanks.

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