Calamus Ale

The 3 Litre Growler destined for Burlington in two weeks.

Has it really been 20 days already? Two weeks ago I felt that this beer would never be ready for consumption, but alas that day finally arrived this past Saturday. John, the one overseeing the entire process kept a watchful eye over the brew in it’s second fermentation vessel. The two of us transfered and sifted the newly emerging ale from primary fermentation only a little more than a week ago. From there, it mellowed out and developed the body and complexity that we were all hoping for. What a worthwhile wait it was. (Thanks again Matt, John, Brad and Susan, we did it!!!)

Pretty much the entire household took part in sampling the premier of this really, really rare beer that probably hasn’t been brewed in this area for at least a couple hundred years, if ever. The original recipe was developed in Europe around 300 years ago, where the true Acorus calamus grows in the wild.  As I mentioned in the Making of Calamus Ale I produced the idea for this beer using a recipe from Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers. Along the way, any issues that we had to overcome we improvised and, constantly guided by Matt’s expertise, produced an absolute winner that is wildly different than anything I have ever tried before.This 5 – 5.5% cloudy, black cherry colored ale is thick and lively. The head is well pronounced and comfortably lingers for minutes after the pour. The aroma is clean, damp and pleasantly unusual. The flavor is mild and bitter, with an aftertaste that only Sweet-Flag can provide: pungent and wonderfully aromatic.

There is also a noteable fact about Acorus calamus compared with the traditional utilization of Hops (Humuls lupulus) that is rather significant and likely has not really been explored recently. Hops is a gently relaxing, calming and sedative herb, and has been used as a medicine for centuries to help those with stress, nervousness, over-excitability and insomnia. Acorus calamus on the other hand, is a stimulating, emotionally toning herb that rejuvenates irritated sinuses, skin conditions, the respiratory system and a weakened digestive tract. It also plays a major role in regulating moods and other psychological functions that contribute to mental health.

Sweet-Flag Rhizomes, whole and crushed.

Both Hops and Sweet-Flag are bitter herbs that discourage the growth of bacteria and fungi, so they both in theory should have similar preservative qualities for the beer. But what about the underlying medicinal qualities? Each plant is very different in terms of the original chemical compounds that they have produced in order to defend themselves from their environment. These chemicals are metabolized and digested in our bodies into a nearly endless assortment of micro-nutrients that keep us functioning properly. Since Acorus calamus is a mental stimulant, how will this effect the experience of the partaker? Would you feel the same way after drinking a few pints of conventional hopped beer or a beer featuring a different herb, something that most people have never ever heard of let alone tried? I guess we will just have to wait and found out (Cheers!). This is certainly not the last time this recipe will be birthed. Calamus Ale will definitely resurface, one day or another.

This was my first time being involved in beer making, and has only given me grounds for even more future ambitions. The Calamus Ale is currently on draught in Matt’s basement via his impressive collection of kegs and is kept company by the full carboys that surround the perimeter of the room. Come and get it while you can! There was a total of around 4 gallons that was made, and I doubt this is going to last more than a week. What a success, now I want to do it all over again. 3 home-brew heads. Bread-Maker-Brad also approves.


5 Responses

  1. I can’t wait to try this! 😀

  2. Good job. Wow, this is truly a unique brew. I could see this kind of thing becoming a trend… thinking outside the hops?

    Looking forward to the tasting.

  3. Sounds awesome to me. Good work Tom! Keep on brewing.

  4. Thank you gentlemen, I will not dissapoint. ‘Think outside the hops’ is without a doubt the new logo for my future brewing enterprise.

  5. Very cool dude.

    That sentence can be read 2 ways, both apply.

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