This recipe sort of came out of the blue, featuring some herbal ingredients that I had lying around and were nearing the end of their shelf life. What better way to preserve the health and healing capability of herbs than steeping them into a beer, which can last for months if not years if properly stored? Tinctures work much the same way, except they can last even longer considering they are often made with 30-40 % alc.vol. liquors. If you get the reference in the name I chose for this beer, you are one awesome dude/dudette. If not, I am not going to give you the satisfaction outright and you are going to have to do a little bit of googling around to figure it out.
The name is relevant though, trust me, since I have formulated this one to be the perfect compliment to the end of an evening. Not too forceful, but you are definitely not staying awake for the rest of that movie once you crack one of these buddies open. Featuring chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) blossoms and valerian (Valeriana officinalis) root, this wildly and differently flavored India pale ale is bound to cripple your chances of staying up late. Both of these herbs gently tone the central nervous system, relax muscle tension and sooth fried nerves and clouded minds. They both help prepare the body for rest by sedating and calming your entire body. Valerian can even be used throughout the day: it helps to naturally restore your body’s sleep rhythm and therefore will only help you sleep when you ought to be sleeping- at night time. Valerian and chamomile can lessen the severity of, or prevent altogether, muscle spams/cramps that can be associated with a host of normal or abnormal bodily functions.
4 gallons water
3 liters liquid amber barley malt extract
1 ounce dried chamomile blossoms
25 grams Cascade hops
0.4 ounces chopped and dried valerian root
8 grams de-bittered ale yeast
1. Bring one gallon of water to a boil.
2. Add liquid amber barley malt extract, pouring slowly and stirring to prevent burning.
3. Add valerian root, stirring a little to evenly spread it around. Start timer at 25 mins.
4. When there is 10 mins. of the boil remaining, add chamomile blossoms and hops. Stir again to dissolve.
5. Once timer goes off, remove from heat and allow wort to cool in the pot until it is around 60-75 degrees F.
6. Fill sterilized carboy/bucket with 3 more gallons of water and wort, adding the wort slowly along with the water so the two mix together as thorough as possible.
7. Wait until head dissipates and then pitch yeast.
8. Insert sterilized airlock and wait until fermentation is complete (5-7 days usually)
If anyone else reading this is interested in pursuing some experimentation with herbs in brewing, I highly recommend this. It has a pretty comprehensive list of most common and a few unusual herbs/trees that are of were historically used in brewing for various reasons. This is where I got the quantities of the herbs that I used for this beer. Smells pretty good already, so I am pretty confident that the folks at the California Fermention Society know what they are talking about.
Update: Pis en Lit G’root’ Ale
This beer has taken me on a real ride. Yesterday, I transferred the 4 gallon batch of this liver cleansing dandelion and milk thistle ale into my second carboy, attempting to filter out all of the yeast and herb parts that I left in during primary fermentation. This beer has been fermenting for 3 and a half weeks, way longer than a beer that was supposed to be straight forward and take less than 10 days to ferment. I did initially have to pitch the yeast in a second time, for 5 days after initially adding yeast I didn’t see any sign of fermentation. I don’t think this would have impacted the length of the fermentation though, because I have had to do this before and the batch still fermented at the regular expected time.
So, who knows? I don’t. It may have been due to fluctuating temperatures in the basement, or possibly warding off some unwanted bacterial colony that may have attempted dominance of the wort. I tried a little sample of the beer, even though it is not yet carbonated. It is pretty damn strong, I am estimating 8-9% alc.vol. which is way off the charts for the expected 5% alc.vol. The flavor is a little heavy on the malt, but with a the damp woody bitterness of dandelion.
Right now I am just going to wait until the beer stops fermenting during secondary. It might be later this week, or it might keep going for another few weeks. Thought I would free up the first carboy in order to make this beer. Can’t stand to not be brewing, even if it is a brew that is holding me up. Any suggestions/comments as to what I might have done to mess up (but not really) Pis en Lit would be appreciated.