I like alternative beer.
Over the Thanksgiving week, I was beyond #blessed to read Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, a fantastic tome that really motivated me to experiment with a concept of what fermentation was before the German Purity law introduced the first drug control laws in human history. So, I decided to make a Licorice Ale.
Look up the medicinal benefits of licorice root and you’d be crazy not to agree that herbally these affect far outweigh the affects of hops, the most prevelant additive of beer in this age. So why not dump 4 ounces of it in a way too high gravity base and see what happens? I boiled some British Crisp Pale Ale with 3 pounds of Extra Light DME and 2 lbs of real local organic vegan brown sugar, threw the in the licorice root, poured it through a giant strainer, and dumped Safale US-05 in a 5 gallon fermenter.
I let it sit for 8 days, then it sat for 4 more, then I thought 2 weeks should be enough time to eat all those sugars, so I bottled the thing, and then left it for a while because I was scared to try it.
Upon opening each beer, a very slow, steady, consistent foam growth protruded out of the bottle. Pouring out helps slow the onslaught, but left unattended this behemoth head would drip itself all over your counter.
Real licorice is incredibly sweet flavored, unlike the ainse-y black candy my Mom can’t get enough of. I was also pleased to notice Brewery Ommegang’s use of licorice in their fantastic belgians. However, one taste delivered a very different product. I’d describe the taste as chilled, generously sweetened banana bread beer. Definitely not weak hearted, something like this would never make the commercial market, and quite possibly would be coughed at by the most fervent homebrew supporters.
But a learned experience can be had by whatever one embarks on with good intentions. And so I shall not cease, yet I will dive into the pool of Gruit, research Rosemary Ale, attempt to grow mandrake root, and get in further touch with the ancient secrets of fermentation.
As the next season of Game of Thrones comes out, a reprise of the Monday Eve will be brewed and reviewed, + the Gillian Coffee Porter, a currently fermenting Solsagan IPA, and all the unplanned brews in the few month future.