RESIST PROHIBITION! - Exotic Homebrew Recipes

Exotic Homebrew Recipes


Most of the information and recipes on this page are taken in whole or in part from Stephen Harrod Buhner's "Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers" (Siris Books, 1998), so a great deal of credit must be given to him for the content of this page. Dozens of recipes are published in Buhner's book detailing recipes from the oddest plants and herbs imaginable. I took the liberty of extracting some of the highlights that might be of interest to the interested homebrewing enthusiast. I strongly recommend Buhner's book to anyone wanting to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the history of beer and its place in society. This page assumes a solid understanding of the brewing process. If any terms or techniques are unfamiliar to you, use the navigation frame to the left to find your answer. To skip to a particular region of the world, use the links below:


North America

Spruce Beer

The knowledge of how to brew spruce beer was passed from the Native Americans to the American colonists. Barley and hops were in extremely short supply during the early years of European settlement of America. Therefore, the colonists were forced to turn to alternate forms of beer. Spruce beer was brewed by American colonists more often than any other type of beer as a substitute for barley-based beer.

Traditional Recipe:

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Boil the water and spruce boughs for 1 hour then remove from heat.
  2. Remove the spruce boughs from the water and dissolve the molasses in the water.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool to 70F.
  4. Strain into a fermenter, pitch the yeast and ferment thoroughly.
  5. Prime, bottle and condition for 2 weeks before drinking.

Modern Recipe

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Boil the extract, spruce tips or essence and hops in 2 gallons of water for 60 minutes.
  2. Remove the wort from the heat, add to 3 gallons of cool water and allow the mixture to cool to 70F.
  3. Strain into a fermenter, pitch the yeast and ferment thoroughly.
  4. Prime, bottle and condition for 2 weeks before drinking.

Molasses Beer

Known in Europe as "treacle," molasses was probably the most common alternate ingredient in colonial American beers given the early shortages of barley.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Bring the water to a boil and add all ingredients.
  2. Simmer for 45 minutes, then allow the mixture to cool to 70F.
  3. Strain into a fermenter, pitch the yeast and the yeast nutrient and ferment thoroughly.
  4. Prime, bottle and condition for 2 weeks before drinking.

Birch Beer

Along with spruce beers, birch and maple beers were brewed by early American colonists as a substitute for barley beers. Sap from the black birch was used, but given the amounts of birch sap necessary to make beer, additional sugars - such as maple syrup, honey or sugar - were added.

Traditional Recipe

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Boil the sap for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and add the honey.
  2. Add the birch twigs, allow the mixture to cool to 70F.
  3. Strain into a fermenter, pitch the yeast and ferment thoroughly.
  4. Prime, bottle and condition for 2 weeks before drinking.

Modern Recipe

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Heat the water enough to dissolve the honey and maple sap in the water.
  2. Allow the mixture to cool to 70F.
  3. Strain into a fermenter, pitch the yeast and ferment thoroughly.
  4. Prime, bottle and condition for 2 weeks before drinking.

Maple Beer

Along with spruce beers, birch and maple beers were brewed by early American colonists as a substitute for barley beers. The sap used for brewing was taken from sugar maple tree.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Heat the water and dissolve the maple syrup in the water.
  2. Cool the mixture to 70F, pour into a fermenter, pitch the yeast and ferment thoroughly.
  3. Prime, bottle and condition for 1 week before drinking.

Central and South America

Chicha

"Chicha" is beer made from corn. Any variety (or several varieties) of corn can be used - the color of the corn will impact the color of the beer. Traditionally, the chicha brewing process was begun by grinding the selected corn into meal, moistening the meal slightly with water, then rolling it into a ball. The meal balls were then placed in the mouth and worked with the tongue until completely saturated with saliva. This is the method chicha brewers traditionally used to convert the starches in the corn into fermentable sugars. After being worked in the mouth, the meal balls were then allowed to dry in the sun. To make the chicha, the meal balls are added to unmalted corn meal in a ratio of 2-to-1. Occasionally, pulp from the local squash or prickly pear cactus fruit was added. Finally, the mixture is boiled in a complex boiling process before being transferred to clay pots for spontaneous fermentation.

"Tesguino" is chicha made from malted maize rather than maize made from saliva-converted corn meal. Tesguino is brewed throughout Mexico and South America. To germinate corn, soak 2 pounds of corn in cold water for 24 hours, then transfer it to a colander for germination. Spray cold water on the corn and turn it in the colander twice a day to prevent it from drying out or getting moldy. Within 5 days, the corn should have germinated to the point that sprouts have reached 2 inches in length. When they do, remove the corn from the colander and allow it to dry in the sun or in the oven on its lowest setting. The following is a recipe for tesguino as brewed by the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Crush the corn coarsely then place it in the brewpot with the water and let it sit for 1 hour.

  2. Bring the wort to a boil, then add the sugar.

  3. Reduce the heat and allow the wort to simmer for 3 hours stirring regularly.

  4. Add the spices at the and of the boil and allow the wort to sit for 1 hour.

  5. Strain the wort into a fermenter once cool and pitch the yeast.

  6. Ferment at 65-70F for 5 days, then rack to a secondary and allow to ferment for 2 more weeks.

  7. Bottle with 1 teaspoon corn sugar per bottle for priming and allow to condition for 2 weeks before drinking.

Tiswin

"Tiswin" is a fermented beverage made by the Papago Indians of northern Mexico and southern Arizona from the pulp of saguaro cactus fruit. A syrup is made from the fruit pulp by slowly cooking one part water to two parts pulp for 1 to 2 hours. The resulting syrup is then used to make the tiswin. If you can not obtain saguaro cactus fruit pulp syrup (and who can?), prickly pear cactus fruit can be used as an alternative (if you can even get that).

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Mix the fruit pulp and water and bring it to a boil.

  2. Reduce the heat and slowly cook the mixture for 1-2 hours.

  3. Allow the mixture to cool enough to strain it then return it to a slow boil for another hour.

  4. Cool the mixture to 70F then strain it into a fermenter and pitch the yeast.
  5. Allow the beer to ferment completely then bottle and condition before drinking.

Pulque

"Pulque" is made by the Tarahumara Indians of the northern Sierra Nevadas from the sap of an agave cactus plant. The sap is gathered by first cutting a cup-shaped cavity in the cactus. The sap that gathers in the cavity is removed on a daily basis to prevent the cavity from sealing itself. The sap is then used to make pulque.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Mix the sap and the water in a fermenter and pitch the yeast.
  2. Allow the mixture to ferment completely then bottle.


Europe

Gruit Ale

Gruit ales were the beers predominantly brewed in medieval Europe. The ingredients in a gruit ale were limited only by whatever herbs, plants and spices a brewer could obtain locally or through trade, and each brewer's recipe for gruit ale was a closely guarded secret. However, most gruit ales had three common ingredients - bog myrtle (also called sweet or Myrica gale), yarrow and marsh (or wild) rosemary. (WARNING: SOME OR ALL OF THESE PLANTS ARE CONSIDERED TOXIC AND ARE NO LONGER RECOMMENDED FOR CONSUMPTION.) Because of these particular plants, gruit ales were highly intoxicating and aphrodisiacal and could even be psychotropic and slightly narcotic when consumed in sufficient quantities. Gruit ales were a favorite of the Catholic clergy, so they greatly diminshed in popularity as the Protestant movement against the Catholic Church swept through Europe. Today, hops are the primary plant used in brewing beer.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Mash in at 170F. Use just enough water to create a stiff mash.

  2. Cover the mash and let it rest for 3 hours.

  3. Sparge the grains with water at 170F until a total of 1 gallon of water is acquired.

  4. Boil the wort and herbs for 90 minutes.

  5. Cool the wort to 70F then strain it into a fermenter and pitch the yeast.
  6. Allow the beer to ferment completely then bottle and condition for 4 months before drinking.

Mumm

Mumm was another common brew of the Middle Ages. The recipe for mumm was as diverse as the brewers that brewed it. Because of the quantities of herbs and spices used, it is strongly recommended that mumm be allowed to cellar for at least one year or more to allow the strong flavors to mellow and the beer to mature properly.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Steep the crushed specialty grains in 1-1/2 gallons of 160F water for 30 minutes.

  2. Sparge the grains with 1/2 gallon of 160F water.

  3. Add the extract and the herbs or spices of your choice, then boil the wort for 60 minutes.

  4. Pour the wort through a strainer into a fermenter, bring the total volume of water to 5 gallons and pitch the yeast when the wort has cooled to 70F.
  5. Ferment for 1 week, then rack to a secondary and add the heather sprig.
  6. Prime, bottle and condition for 1-2 months before drinking.

Medieval Household Beer

Although gruit ales and mumm were the beers predominantly brewed in medieval Europe, some brewers brewed with hops as the primary ingredient. This recipe is allegedly from 1512.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Mash in at 170F for 2 hours.

  2. Sparge the grains with water at 170F until a total of 1 gallon of water is acquired.

  3. Boil the wort and hops for 90 minutes.

  4. Cool the wort to 70F then strain it into a fermenter and pitch the yeast.
  5. Allow the beer to ferment completely then bottle and condition for 4 months before drinking.

Heather Ale

Heather ale was originally brewed by the Picts, a pre-Celtic Scottish tribe. Legend has it that the last member of the Pictish tribe chose jumping off a cliff to his death rather than revealing the recipe for heather ale to the Scottish king. Heather ale has made a revival among craft brewers and is even brewed today commercially.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Steep the crushed specialty grains in 1-1/2 gallons of 160F water for 30 minutes.

  2. Sparge the grains with 1/2 gallon of 160F water.

  3. Add the extract and 10 cups of the dried heather blossoms, then boil the wort for 60 minutes.

  4. Place the remaining 2 cups of dried heather blossoms in a strainer.

  5. Pour the wort through the strainer into a fermenter, bring the total volume of water to 5 gallons and pitch the yeast when the wort has cooled to 70F.
  6. Ferment for 1 week, then rack to a secondary for additional fermentation.
  7. Prime, bottle and condition before drinking.

Sahti

Sahti is a Finnish ale brewed using juniper branches. Buhner writes that "juniper is the most ancient herb in use in traditional beer making in... the Scandinavian countries, and its antiseptic or preserving properties predate the advent of hops." To make juniper beer in the traditional manner, a crosswork of straw and juniper branches is laid at the bottom of a lauter tun. In another kettle, barley is mashed for anywhere from 1 hour to several days, depending on the brewer. Once the wort is drawn off the mash, the remaining grains are transferred to the juniper-filled lauter tun. The wort is added to some more water then poured very slowly over the grain-covered juniper branches. The juniper acts to not only strain the wort of excess particles but also add flavor and color to the wort. The final wort is the fermented, bottled and conditioned before being enjoyed. Different brewers have different practices as far whether the mash water or wort should be boiled or not. Practices differ by region. This process can be adapted to modern homebrewing set-ups as seen below.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Submerse malts in cold water, mix the malts then cover all to rest overnight.
  2. Boil the remainder of the water.
  3. Slowly add the boiled water mixing well until the mash reaches a consistency similar to that of porridge.
  4. Add the remainder of the water and allow the mash to rest for 1 hour.
  5. Pour off the clear wort and bring it to a boil, then add the porridge, mix well and allow the grains to settle.
  6. Pour off the clear wort and repeat the above step 4 more times.
  7. During the final boil, place a layer of rye straw (cleaned with boiling water) on the bottom of a lauter tun.
  8. Also during the final boil, prepare juniper extract by boiling the juniper branches.
  9. Once the final boil is complete, dump the porridge on the straw in the lauter tun.
  10. Pour the boiled wort on top of the porridge allowing it to flow through and directly into a fermenter.
  11. Pour the juniper extract through the lauter tun as well into the fermenter.
  12. When the wort has cooled, pitch the yeast and allow to ferment for 1 week.
  13. Rack to a secondary and continue fermentation until complete.
  14. Prime, bottle and allow to condition before drinking.


Asia

Rice Beer

Rice has been used to make beer and wine in Asia for thousands of years. Unlike barley, rice can not be germinated to convert its starches into fermentable sugars. Therefore, it's cooked throroughly before brewing. Rice is used by modern brewers as an adjunct to lighten the body of their beer.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Dissolve the sugar in the water.
  2. Add the rice and the yeast.
  3. Ferment then rack to a secondary and continue fermentation until complete.
  4. Prime, bottle and allow to condition for 7 days before drinking.

Ginger Beer

Ginger beer is the original form of the non-alcoholic soda currently known as ginger ale. The nutritive qualities of ginger are well-known throughout indigenous cultures of the world.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients and boil for 1 hour. Skim if necessary.
  2. Cool the mixture to 70F then strain it into a fermenter and pitch the yeast.
  3. Ferment for 1 week then rack to a secondary and continue fermentation until complete.
  4. Prime, bottle and allow to condition for 1 month before drinking.

Alternate Recipe: Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Crush the ginger and boil it in 1 gallon of water for 1 hour.
  2. Add the malt extract, sugar and cream of tartar and stir until dissolved.
  3. Cool the mixture to 70F.
  4. Strain into a fermenter, pitch the yeast and yeast nutrient and ferment for 1 week.
  5. Prime, bottle and allow to condition for 3 weeks before drinking.


Africa

Kaffir

"Kaffir" is an African beer brewed from millet, a grass/grain with small edible seeds. Millet is also used in brewing in South America and Asia. In South America, millet beer is made like traditional chicha - with saliva (see above). In Africa, the millet is germinated before brewing kaffir. To germinate millet, soak it in cold water for 24 hours, then transfer it to a colander for germination. Spray cold water on the millet and turn it in the colander twice a day to prevent it from drying out or getting moldy. Germination should start within 2 days. Allow the millet to germinate for 5 days after germination begins. After 5 days, remove the millet from the colander and allow it to dry in the sun or in the oven on its lowest setting.

Ingredients:

Instructions for Traditional Kaffir:

  1. Grind the germinated millet coarsely.
  2. Stir the millet into water at 170F and maintain this temperature for 15 hours stirring occasionally.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool to 70F.
  4. Strain into a fermenter, pitch the yeast and ferment for 3 days.
  5. Ready to drink after fermentation; bottle if necessary.

Instructions for Modern Kaffir:

  1. Grind the germinated millet coarsely.
  2. Stir the millet into water at 170F and maintain this temperature for 2 hours stirring occasionally.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool to 70F.
  4. Strain into a fermenter, pitch the yeast and ferment thoroughly.
  5. Prime, bottle and condition before drinking.

Palm Beer

The sap of palm trees has been used in fermentation everywhere palm trees grow. The African tribes of Ghana believe that palm sap is a gift from the gods. Therefore, palm beer is a sacred beverage to them.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Add the sap and the yeast in a fermenter.
  2. Ferment until complete.
  3. Prime (if carbonation desired), bottle and allow to condition for 2 weeks before drinking.

1