common juniper

Juniper-Ginger Beer

Brewed on 29 May, 2012.

Grains

  • 2-row pale malt (Briess organic), 8 lbs.
  • Breiss Carapils, 1.5 lbs.
  • Gambrinus wheat malt, 2 lbs.

Herbs

  • yarrow, fresh tops, about 3 cups (infusion with 2 gals. water, made ahead and chilled in sanitized bottles to add to finished wort)
  • fresh spicebush (Lindera benzoin) leaves, about 1 packed cup
  • dried American spikenard (Aralia racemosa) root, 1 oz
  • dried elecampane root, 1 oz.
  • fresh Asian gingerroot, minced, 2.5 oz.
  • juniper berries, crushed, 1 oz.

Other sugars

  • wildflower honey, 2 lbs.
  • pale dried malt extract, 1 1/4 cup (bottling)

Yeast

  • Safbrew S-33 and Cooper’s dry ale yeast in warm-water starter

Procedure

Tie together last four herbs in a nylon bag and set aside. Mash grains in 3.5 gallons (American, not imperial) at 150F until starch conversion is complete. Sparge with 3 gals. at 180F. Add honey and bring to a boil. Reduce to approx. 3 gals. Add spice bag and spicebush leaves 5 min. before end of boil. Add yarrow tea to precipitate cold break. Pitch at 80F. Put nylon bag into fermenter and let remain until bottling. Bottle in two weeks.

Results

Juniper forms the dominant note, resiny and vaguely citrusy, supported by the camphor quality of yarrow and the spiciness of ginger. The bitterness is mild, equivalent roughly to a standard wheat beer. (It would be interesting to try this with a higher proportion of wheat.) This is a fairly intoxicating beer (I’d guess 8-11% ABV)  that goes down easy — perhaps too easy! Despite over-indulging on a couple of occasions, I suffered no hangover effects.