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Friday, August 13, 2010
 
Have brewed mugwort/yarrow beer. Pissing gentle lavender color, and having dreams about dhole worms and shoggoths. NO MORE "ANCIENT CELTIC" RECIPES.

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Comments:
Aren't you going to share the recipe?
 
If you must:

Ingredients:
8 oz. yarrow leaves, fresh
5 oz. yarrow flower, fresh
2 oz. mugwort leaves and buds, dried
6 lbs. light malt (a mistake here--next time I'll go darker)
Ale yeast
corn sugar
5 gallons water, distributed

Boil malt, yarrow leaves and mugwort for 45 minutes in 1 1/2 gallons water. Turn off heat and added yarrow flower; steep for 7 minutes.

Sparge into 3 1/2 gallons of cold water in fermentation vessel. When cool, pitch yeast.

Mine fermented madly for ten days, then stopped abruptly. I racked it two days after fermentation stopped, then added the corn sugar and bottled it.

Initial gravity: 1.06ish
Final: 1.02ish

Results: sour, with strong herbal bitterness. No sweetness whatsoever, and insufficient carbonation to cut the sourness.

Also, the dreams and urine, which on reflection was rather more mauve than lavender.

What I'd change: first, if I do it as beer again, I'll use darker malts to get some beer characteristics into it. As it stands, this batch was more like Mike's Hard Herbal Brew than beer. Or I might just skip the malt and brew it as a metheglin.
 
Somewhere I have a German ethnobotanist acquaintance's recipe for henbane beer. Unfortunately, it's on a cassette tape.

He rages against the famous Bavarian beer-purity law, seeing it strictly as an anti-drug law against making beer with henbane ... and I suppose mugwort as well.
 
These folks seem to feel much the same way.

"The writers who described the dangerous effects of gruit were in fact those who wanted to outlaw their use and stop the indiscriminate use of excitants (as well as make money by being able to brew a competing product). But once hops supplanted gruit the vast majority of men throughout the western world were still being drugged by their beer only now they were being drugged into a dull, flaccid sleepiness."

From my admittedly limited sample size, hops replaced gruit because hops are delicious.
 
I should add that tonight's experimentation demonstrates that a couple of peppermint leaves floating in the glass helps the flavor immensely: the sourness turns to tang, and the mint flavor clears the palate for the next sip.
 
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