I want to incorporate locally foraged and seasonal elements into my brewing and back in August 2016 the field edges locally were thick with the candy floss heads of Meadowsweet and their heady aroma. Apparently it has been used to flavour mead, which is where the name derives from. It was also used as a strewing herb, to freshen the air of medieval houses, as did other plants containing the fragrance coumarin. I’ve read that coumarin is intensified by drying so I might try this recipe again with dried rather than fresh flowers. Meadowsweet also contains salicylic acid which was synthesised to create aspirin, so in theory a beer made with meadowsweet will preemptively cure a hangover – there’s always hope.
I decided to use local honey with the intention that it would dry the beer out and add a little complexity. I also added some early garden apples, having recently enjoyed Wild Beer Co Ninkasi.
This beer was a big inspiration for the Funky Flower Beer Project.
Here’s the recipe, brewed 24 September 2016:
Batch size 19L
2.95kg Pilsner malt
1.35kg Munich malt
0.54kg Wheat malt
0.45kg Sussex honey
29g Progress (AA 6.85%) at 60min
41g Saaz (AA 3.07%) at 20min
500g early garden apple at 20min
1/4 protofloc tablet at 15min
15g E. Kent Golding (AA 5%) at 0min
50g fresh meadowsweet at 0min
WLP565 Belgian Saison I yeast
mashed at 66deg C for 1 hour
After initial fermentation, I racked 5 litres onto 10g of fresh meadowsweet, 100g garden apple and 200g honey to see what wildness I could bring into the beer.
The main batch produced a very enjoyable saison. Golden colour, herbal and medicinal aromas and fresh orange citrus flavour. I’m not convinced the apple added much in the clean fermented version. I think the meadowsweet accentuated the spicy character of the saison yeast.
The experimental batch spent a month on the fruit and will be bottled in April after a further 6 months. The airlock has now pretty much stopped but has been active throughout that time, so something has been occurring, hopefully brett! I’m hoping for a bit of sourness as well, the the hops may have inhibited this. It will be interesting to compare the pH of the two beers.
More to follow.