Carrot Seed Ale

wild carrot (Daucus carota)

Anyone who has tried the seeds of parsley or celery already has a general idea as to the flavour profile of carrot seeds. These plants (as well as dill, fennel, cumin, lovage and parsnip among many others) are all members of the Apiaceae, a botanical family. Although unique, all of these plant seeds have a recognizeable pungent, aromatic and almost ‘pine-y’ aspect to their aroma and flavour. This characteristic set of attributes was certainly not overlooked centuries ago when the seeds of wild or cultivated carrots (the plant Daucus carota) were used as a complimentary ingredient or substitute for hops in beer. I have paired wild harvested carrot seeds with 2 different hop varieties into what I hope will turn out to be a very beautiful combination of earthy aromatics and complex bitterness.


INGREDIENTS:

4 gallons water
3 litres liquid amber barely malt extract
2 ounces freshly ground ripe carrots seeds (1 ounce = 60 min. boil; 1 ounce = 10 min. boil)
30 g both Perle and Fuggle hop (Fuggle = 60 min. boil; Perle = 10 min. boil)
7 grams be-bittered ale yeast


INSTRUCTIONS:

Please refer to my older posts for more of a step-by-step guide to brewing beer. I feel like at this point I am just repeating myself over and over, especially for those of you that are reading this blog every once and a while and probably getting tired of it. For my next batch of beer (still in the works), I think I am going to try putting the wort through a secondary fermentation.

This is basically just draining the beer, after it has fermented and gone dormant once, into a new sterilized fermenter and letting it undergo another partial fermentation. By doing this you can be sure that the final product has had the majority of the available sugars converted into alcohol. Because the secondary fermentation works with relatively little sugar available in the wort, the vast majority of which was eaten up during the primary, this next fermentation is slower and more complete, digesting some of the more complex sugars.


CREEPING CHARLIE ’13 UPDATE:

This isn’t going to make anyone happy. It certainly didn’t improve the quality of my day. About 2 days into fermentation, the 6 gallon capacity glass carboy that Charlie was humming away inside exploded, sending frothy herbal goodness sloshing all over fellow BFB-er Robert Nagy’s basement bathroom. It was a pretty big bummer. I think that this new addition of the Creep was too good to be true: and the pure awesomeness that it held within it’s beer-y depths was too much for physics to handle. Next time, only 4 gallon batches in the 6 gallon carboy. Either that, or use a bucket which was a bit more give.

According to other BFB-er Chris Veska, the airlock may have prevented enough CO2 from escaping, a detail which could have saved this brew from it’s premature end. Even putting tin foil over the opening of the carboy, once the fermentation is in full swing, is enough to protect the wort inside from any ‘badies’ that might try to get it. Makes sense, seeing as a beer in full fermentation is pretty aggressive. Oh well, live and learn. This also means that Creep ’14 is going to have to be even more serious than ’13 or ’12.

Pis en Lis G’root’ Ale

Common dandelion – Taraxacum officinale

The common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) delights our eyes with carpets of stunning yellow composite blooms that invade grassy fields, the edges of roads and other waste places throughout mid to late spring. Despite being labeled as a nuisance and having an impressive assortment of biological and mechanical weapons specifically devised for it’s eradication, dandelions still hold a firm grip on our landscapes as well as our folkflore and traditions.

For example, the common name ‘dandelion’ is derived from the French ‘dent-de-lion’ which means ‘lion’s tooth’ and refers to the jagged, irregularly toothed edges of the leaves. Another French name for this plant is ‘pis en lit’ which means ‘piss the bed’ [an excellent name for a beer!] and refers to the diuretic affect which results from consuming the leaves, flowers and roots. It has been known for centuries that the dandelion is a potent cleaner of the urinary system.

In fact, the roots of dandelions have been used as a powerful and safe medicine since antiquity, additional to cleaning and strengthening the urinary system. Numerous studies and hundreds of years of practice have revealed that the plant is rich in important minerals such as magneseum and iron, and has the capacity to heal and detoxify our liver, gallbladder and bloodstream from accumulated bacteria and other toxins.

Ground milk-thistle seed and dried, chopped dandelion root.

Ground milk-thistle seed and dried, chopped dandelion root.

The bitterness of dandelion also excites and stimulates the production of gastric juices [yum!] and enzymes to be released into the stomach which assist in the proper assimilation and absorbtion of nutrients in our food. In Greece, salads featuring dandelion leaves are traditionally eaten before a heavy meal in order to increase the appetite and prepare the digestive system for the bulk of the meal which has yet to arrive.

I have always regarded the spring as a time of renewal, rebirth and healing. So what better way than the cleanse the body after a long, dark winter that is often accompanied by a monotonous diet low in fresh fruit and vegetables than with a spring tonic beer made with dandelion root? Here here, says I! Spring cleaning is most definitely not exclusive to the household. Part of experiencing the blessings of a new year includes making sure your body is healthy, clean and functioning efficiently.

Ingredients:

4 gallons water
3 litres liquid amber malt extract
2.2 ounces both dried and fresh dandelion root
18 grams ground milk-thistle (Silybum marianum) seed
8 grams de-bittered ale yeast

comments: I could not find any resources which describe the moisture content of dandelion roots. They do weight considerably more when fresh than dried, as would be expected. The original recipe from Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers recommends 4 dried ounces of dandelion root for a 4 gallon batch, which seems like a lot, so I am halving it based on what I have been able to harvest and not wanting to make the taste too strong. I definitely still want to feel the super dirty, earthy bitterness that is unique to dandelion. It is likely that arround 200 individual plants were harvested to compose the 2.2 ounces of roots.

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The boiling wort with dandelion roots.

Instructions:

1. Bring 1 gallon of water to a boil in a large pot (preferably one with handles as you are going to be handling it after it is boiled)
2. Once boiling, slowly pour in and stir 3 litres of liquid amber malt extract until it is dissolved in the water.
3. Add 2.2 ounces dandelion root, stirring to evenlydistribute them.
4. Simmer mixture for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. After the 15 minutes has passed, remove pot from heat.
6. Place pot of wort in a place where it can cool to room temperature.
7. When cool enough, carefully pour the wort through a strainer and into a sterilized fermenter, such as a glass carboy.
8. Pour the 18 grams of ground milk-thistle seeds into wort inside the carboy.*
9. Top up the carboy with cool water until it contains a total of 4 gallons.
10. Pitch 8 grams of yeast into fermenter and insert airlock.

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The wort chilling out.

* The seeds of milk-thistle contain active compounds which are alcohol soluable and therefore not effectively extracted by boilding. The compounds in dandelions, however, can be extracted by water. By placing the ground milk-thistle seeds in the carboy during the fermentation process, those alcohol soluable compounds are extracted and remain suspended in the final product. I decided to add milk-thistle to this recipe because, like dandelion, they have potent liver strengthening and detoxifying capabilities and will also hopefully add an interesting bitter flavour of their own. More can be read about the medicinal applications of milk-thistle here.

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Yeast pitched and ready to start fermenting.