Herbal Remedy #3

This version of the Herbal Remedy was intended to be quite similar to #1, but with orange and grapefruit zest added. I used Weyermann Pilsner instead of Crisp Pale Ale malt, but the same additions of honey, yarrow, St. Johns Wort, and half as much wormwood with Safale-05. However, the final product tastes quite different.

Instead of the slightly tart, lemony flavor of #1, this ale tastes more bread-like, with a peach note coming from the zest additions. The wormwood was still very apparent immediately after bottling but a few months of refrigerated aging dissipated most of the harshness. Shockingly, there’s still dried herb left so I can play around with these ingredients a bit more to see what comes of it.

Farmer’s Daughter-ish Saison clone

We had some friends over for a nice Saturday summer grilling session about a month ago, and one of them loves saisons. “Oh really?” I said, “I’d love to make you one! What’s your favorite?” She smartly replied with the Alchemist’s Farmer’s Daughter, but with more citrus. So I attempted a clone with orange zest added.

100% Wyermann’s Pilsner malt, the zest of one orange, Saaz hops for boiling and whirlpool, and a two liter starter of Wyeast #3522 Belgian Ardennes yeast. This son of a bitch exploded with fermentative vigor, getting down to 1.017 from a starting gravity of 1.079, resulting in a boozy-when-warm beer at 8.14% ABV.

Initial mash temp started lower than targeted at 148F, which favored beta-amylase action and encourages a more fermentable beer. I added boiling water to bring the mash temperature up to 155F to get those alpha-amylase enzymes rolling strong.

Great feedback on this guy. Extremely subtle orange citrus flavor, with just enough saison funk and a punchy ABV to get you where you need to go.


Pale Ale

I made this Pale Ale to provide some parting gifts for my colleagues at Middlebury College as I officially set off on a new adventure to become a professional brewer. As such, I chose a beer recipe that used simple additions of pale ale malt and flaked oats, along with boatloads of hops, since that’s what’s hot today. Five grams of gypsum added to give the hops a bit of pop, apt since the latest Champlain Water District Report indicates low alkalinity and mineral content. That’ll be something I pay close attention to on subsequent pilot brewing days.

The mash temperature successfully settled at 151 degrees Fahrenheit, and my after-boil gravity was right on target. Heavy whirlpool hop additions gave the usual trouble with transferring into the glass carboys. Two packets of re-hydrated Safale-05 fermented the beer out nicely.

Even after over a month, a slight haze remains from the oat addition, though oxidation flavors are coming through. Drink hoppy stuff ASAP, as they say. Herbal Remedy #3 has been bottled and will be ready in a few weeks, the Farmer’s Daughter clone still has a few days of fermentation left, while a heavy scotch ale aged on scotch whisky-soaked oak chips is up next for the now-free fermenter.

Herbal Remedy #1

One of my most prized brewing books is Stephen Harrod Buhner’s Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, an incredibly detailed read documenting ancient and indigenous uses of medicinal plants in fermentation. I was bitten by the bug of attempting to use plants other than hops in brewing, and this attempt was my first effort.

My 36th batch was simply crafted in late January with 4 lbs of liquid malt extract, 1 lb of raw honey, 0.5 oz of wormwood, 0.5 oz of St. Johns Wort, and 3 ounces of yarrow. The herbs were sourced from Free Verse Farm in Chelsea, VT, and the ale was fermented with Safale-05 yeast.

The product resulted in a pleasant gold, crystal clear, effervescent ale. When drunk super fresh, the drinker would perceive a blindingly bitter flavor from the wormwood additive, nearly undrinkable for most normal normal palates. Though as the bottles aged, the bitter flavor dissolved into a less bitter grapefruit-like taste, without any of the fruit sweetness.

I’ve already iterated on the formula, the second one made without wormwood and using Crisp Pale Ale malt as it’s backbone. Tomorrow’s iteration will reduce the wormwood additive by 50%, and use much more pale ale malt to boost the alcohol into the 7.5-8% range. Some orange and grapefruit zest might find its way into the brew as well.


Wheat contains higher levels of beta-glucans than barley, compounds that can “gum up” the filtering process. Rice hulls are an additive that can help lautering when the heavier-than-usual mash utilizing wheat (or rye, or oats) that might cause trouble with filtering.

For overall batch #37, I wanted to experiment with a mash using wheat malt and rice hulls, and so this was purchased as a pre-built kit from HomeBrewSupply.com, Grain bill:

  • Pale Wheat
  • Pilsner
  • Dark Munich
  • Caramunich (Type 3)
  • Melanoiden
  • Special B
  • Carafa Special (Type 1)
  • Rice Hulls

Mashed at a temperature of 153 degrees Fahrenheit at a 2.5:1 ratio for 60 min. Hopped with 1.75 oz of Hallertau for the full 60 min boil. The beer finished at 5.78% ABV. Fermented with a combination of 2 packets of Safbrew WB-06 dry yeast and 1 vial of WPL300 Hefewizen Ale liquid yeast.

I was a bit disappointed at the final outcome of this weizenbock, due to its heavier mouthfiel with some off-tasting stuff I couldn’t really identify. Still, some positive takeaways are a consistent clarity, meaning my rudimentary processes seem to filter out particulates well on its own. Definitely complex, I should adjust the fermentation temperature, perhaps raise it up a bit more for increased yeast activity.

Brewing a northeast style pale ale tomorrow in my new garage on the new propane powered Ss Brewtech boiling kettle, splitting the results between two 5 gallon glass carboys for fermentation. Wish me luck.