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Brewing with Wormwood

It is important when developing herbal beers that you get advice about your ideas from knowledgeable sources. Also, that you control the flow of your beer so that it is not abused. This is certainly the case with a beer containing wormwood. Although wormwood has been used in beer in ages past, it was usually due to an unscrupulous landlord who sought to drown the tang of sour beer with this most astringent bitter. Thusly, I must recommend that this beer is not for the light of heart, and legally, I cannot condone the manufacture or imbibing of the following recipe. For all you pirate brewers out there, read on…

Dried Wormwood (Artemesia Absintium)
Dried Wormwood
(Artemesia Absintium)

When I decided to make a bitter Pilsner, I decided to focus my energies on creating the most bitter brew imaginable – bitter, with bitter undertones of an amazingly floral nature. I selected malts with bitter qualities, but light as well, and found a ratio to blend hops and wormwood to engender a bitter quality in the beer that evolved and excites the palate. The added inebriating effect of wormwood was a pleasant bonus.

I used wormwood in the ratio of one-half ounce per six gallons. I would recommend using no more than this amount, and one-quarter ounce is probably sufficient to make a uniquely stimulating beer. I added the wormwood to a basic pilsner recipe, as follows.

Ingredients for a five gallon batch:

Lord Wormcastle’s Select Bitters

4.5 lbs. pale malt extract
2 lbs.Weyermann Pilsner malt
1 lbs.Weyermann Vienna malt
1/2 lbs. Briess Organic Carapils malt
1 ounce Cascadia bittering hops
2 ounces Fuggle finishing hops
¼ to ½ ounce dried Wormwood (Artemesia Absintium)
White Labs #800 Pilsner Lager

Brewing Instructions:

1. Heat two gallons of water to 160- 165 degrees, then turn the heat off. Add the grains (or grain bag with grains in it) and stir well. The temperature should be 150 degrees. You can adjust the temperature if necessary by adding heat, hot water, or cold water.

2. Allow the grains to soak for 40 to 60 minutes at 150 degrees. You can perform a starch test to see if the mash is done.

3. Heat one gallon of water to 170 degrees in a separate pot. Sparge the grains with this water when the mash is complete.

4. Add water to the liquid collected from the grains to make up to 5 1/4 gallons.

5. Heat the water to almost boiling and then turn the heat off. Now, add the malt extract and dissolve the extract completely. Next, turn the heat back on and bring to a boil.

6. Once the wort has reached a rolling boil add 1 ounce Cascadia bittering hops
and boil for 40 minutes.

7. Add two ounces Fuggle finishing hops along with ¼ to ½ ounce dried Wormwood (Artemesia Absintium) and boil for 10 more minutes.

8. Cool the wort to room temperature and pour into primary fermentation vessel (carboy).

9. Add yeast to the wort and ferment in a cool and dark place for five to seven days. The ancient Vikings would yell and scream at the beer during this time to awaken the spirit of the grains, cursing it roundly to get up its temper and potency.

10. Good to rack the beer, due to additional sediment imparted by wormwood. Let this brew ferment until the fermentation process is complete.

11. Bottle or keg and enjoy (sparingly).

Related Articles:
Using Herbs and Spices to Enhance Your Brews - Learn how using herbs and spices can enhance your brewing.
Homebrew Recipes and Ingredients - Get a basic understanding of homebrew recipes.

Published: May 26, 2010

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