Monday, 1 October 2012

Hop It

Or rather what to use instead of hops....

Some of us have tried the International Arms race beers from Flying Dog and Brewdog, one is a ginger beer and the other a sour, from my viewpoint anyway. However that competition was to brew an IPA without hops, but the concept of brewing without hops is hardly a new one, so back to the home brewing books to see what is suggested.

Spruce beer has a fair few mentions and I recall seeing the foraging brewers on River Cottage making a spruce beer so it mustn't be a bad drop. Or at least they seemed to enjoy it and according to the books it goes well with hops if you want to combine the two.

The key thing according to the books is " the principle of balancing sweetness against bitterness once understood becomes easy", not a hundred per cent it becomes that easy but the idea of using nettles in stout, apparently an old idea, sounds an interesting one and I like the flavour of nettles. Nettle cordal and explosive beer experiments always a good one. :)

Wormwood was also used in the past apparently for its bitter flavour instead of hops, although I don't fancy that one much as I have used wormwood infusions to kill garden pests off the other plants and as I don't have bugs inside me I want to get rid.... I'm guessing the toxicity of wormwood stopped our brewers from using this herb nowadays.

Of course as someone who likes their darker beers, Treacle Ale is a good idea for brewing without hops. The dentist may not agree though!