Adventures in Herbal Home Brewing

Adventures in Herbal Home Brewing

Home-brewed beer is delicious and unique to its maker. For longtime home-brewer Kori of Mountain Rose Blog, the joy is in creating beverages that aren’t available anywhere else.

In a recent blog post, Kori describes Stephen Harrod Buhner’s book “Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers” as an “endless inspiration,” one that led to her own original Elderberry Mead recipe.

In this post she talks her personal approach to home brewing, and shares Stephen Harrod Buhner’s Sage Ale recipe:

My love of home brewing is over a dozen years old. From my first novice attempt with a beer-making kit, it was a quick trajectory to all grain brewing and some grand experiments (not all of which resulted in delicious masterpieces, mind you!) Now, I grow my own hops on three established hop plants along the edges of the garden, and this provides plenty of plump hops to dehydrate and freeze for use in my creations. While my brewing adventures started with modern-ish beer recipes, I also love experimenting with meads and herbal fermentations.

For me, the joy of home brewing is creating beverages that I can’t get anywhere else! Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers is a dense book of almost endless inspiration for a home brewer like me. I picked it up because I wanted to learn more about brewing with fresh and dried herbs and decided to give one of the recipes a try. This, I confess, led to my own creation of a second herby Elderberry Mead recipe. What I love about both of these beverages (besides the deliciousness) is that they have medicinal properties and are full of good herbs and ingredients; in my mind, these are life-affirming creations!

Sage Ale – A Modern Recipe (Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers)
4 pounds malt extract
2 pounds brown sugar
4 ounces fresh culinary sage (Salvia officinalis)
2 ounces dried organic licorice root or slices
4 gallons of water
1 package yeast (I used an ale yeast)

Bring water to a boil in a large pot and add half the sage and all the licorice root. Simmer this “tea” for one hour. Turn off heat and allow to cool. When cooled to 160 degrees F, strain into carboy or other fermenting vessel (removing the spent herbs.) Add extract and sugar and stir to dissolve. Cool to 70 degrees and then add the yeast. Drop the rest of the fresh sage into the mixture. Stir or lightly shake to mix and dissolve. Put an airloc on the carboy and allow to ferment for 7-10 days. At first, you will see lots of bubbling in the airloc and foam/bubbles on the top of the liquid, but this will diminish. After a week or so, you can bottle the ale (strain or lift out the sage leaves before bottling.) I added about ¼ cup sugar to the ale at bottling and capped. After 2-3 weeks, it should be ready to drink.


Click here to see Kori’s own inspiring recipe for Elderberry Mead.

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