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Hopless Ale

Posted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:42 pm
by Brewtrog
After planning this for several years, I'm finally going to have a blast at brewing a hopless ale. Because it's a bit of a stab in the dark I'm going to try it as a 1gal extract brew and sup and see from there. The current plan is
500g medium spreymalt
3g yarrow (dried)
1g rosemary (dried)
1g wormwood (dried)
1 bay leaf
1 gal water
I'm going to mix the dried herbs together, and add 4g of the mix and the bay leaf at 60mins with 1g herbs at 10mins.
Can't remember what yeast I have in at the mo, think it might be wilko's ale yeast.
Hopefully it'll ferment out in a week, then I'll give it maybe a week in bottle. I know this won't give the best priming tome, but without the hops I'm not 100% on how long it'll keep - I know the old herb ales were drank young, and possibly flat.

I had hoped to add sweet gale (bog myrtle) to the brew, but I couldn't find anywhere that sold it. Perhaps one for the garden for net year
It's nice being able to plan a recipe with herbs I've grown/foraged, rather than relying on buying in ingredients. Still hoping on bending my parents' arms to get a hop bine, although I think growing and malting barley is a step further than I can take :lol:

Re: Hopless Ale

Posted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 7:59 am
by ina
I read the title as "hopeless ale"... :mrgreen:

Well, I hope it's not! Sounds interesting.

Re: Hopless Ale

Posted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:22 pm
by Green Aura
We made yarrow ale a couple of years back. It was delicious.

What's spreymalt?

Re: Hopless Ale

Posted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:06 pm
by Brewtrog
I've seen recipes for yarrow ale, not tried making any yet. I've only just been happy enough with my reckoning to harvest it.
Spreymalt is just dried malt extract

Re: Hopless Ale

Posted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 4:09 pm
by Flo
ina wrote:I read the title as "hopeless ale"... :mrgreen:

So did I! :mrgreen:

Re: Hopless Ale

Posted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:20 pm
by BernardSmith
I routinely make a gruit mead - Those herbs were /are called gruit so the ale is not so much "hop - less" ale but a gruit ale.

For my meads (and ales) for each gallon (4 liters) I add 1 tablespoon of each herb (about 15 grams) - I also add heather tips. My last batch used a scant 1 kg (2 lbs) of eucalyptus honey per gallon.

And for the record, ale was made with gruit herbs for hundreds and hundreds of years until around the time of the Reformation when the Protestants tried to remove the Roman Catholic Church's monopoly over gruit herbs by pushing for their substitution with hops. And note, while gruit herbs are viewed as mildly psychotropic, hops are viewed as somewhat anesthetizing (people use hops as a treatment for insomnia) and castrating (brewers often suffered from what was known as .. um.."brewers' droop".. if yer knows what I mean)

Re: Hopless Ale

Posted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:04 pm
by Brewtrog
Yeah, the aim was to brew a gruit, hence the particular choice of herbs, I just thought "hopless" was as good a descriptive title anyway (plus the happy accident with hopeless).

The low figures for the herbs comes from the lowest used in the various recipes using any of the ingredients. I would prefer to start under and then add next time, rather than overpower and be put off. Especially with wormwood's bitterness. But thank you for the warning about it probably being a bit under herbed.

I'm a definite skeptic as to the psychotropic nature of wormwood - the potentially psychoactive ingredient in this mix. I've drank too much absinthe and never seen La Fee Verte (Also my understanding is that thujone has been proven not to be hallucinogenic). Although it is interesting to note that hops do indeed have a high (phyto)estrogen content, which could help explain brewer's droop

Re: Hopless Ale

Posted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:19 pm
by BernardSmith
No argument from me about the questionable nature of the pyscho-activity of any of the herbs involved in gruit but if you read the book Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephen Harrod Buhner (and it is a fascinating work, IMO) he does suggest that it was not just the wormwood that added some additional um.. chemicals to the alcohol- so that the use of yarrow, for example, and bog myrtle (and indeed heather (because of fogg)) reacted with the alcohol to produce effects that were experienced as identifiably different from the same beers without such herbs. A different kind of "buzz", by all accounts. However, no double blind tests were involved so all we have are the claims that folk made about their experiences..