Know Your Herbs and Spices
Bitter Orange Peel (Aurantium amarae pericarpium)
Also called Curacau orange peel, these green-gray peels are one of the most popular specialty herbs on the market. They are used commercially by domestic brewers to duplicate the beer styles that put Belgium on the brewing map. While not very bitter, they are a key ingredient in Belgian style white beers
Cardamom Seed (Elettaria cardamomum)
Cardamom is a distinctive spice from the same family as ginger. Its flavor, which has been described as a "spicy cola," combines well with coriander, cumin and orange, and often all are used together in specialty Belgian and Holiday Style beer.
Chicory Root (Chicorium intybus)
Chicory Root is commonly baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute and additive, mainly in the Mediterranean region, although its use as a coffee additive is also very popular in parts of Southeast Asia and America. The root gained a majority of its popularity as a coffee substitute in poorer economic areas during the 1930s. Craft brewers use roasted chicory to add flavor to their stouts and other styles brewed with coffee and roasted malts.
Cinnamon Sticks (Cinnamomum cassia)
Known principally as a flavoring for savory dishes in Asia and Africa and for its use in pastries and beverages, cinnamon has also found its way into recipes for spicy holiday ales and ciders, sodas, coffees and teas.
Coriander Seed (Coriandrum sativum)
Ancient Egyptian and Sanskrit texts document the use of coriander for more than 3,000 years. The Chinese once believed the herb conferred immortality and in the Middle Ages it was put into love potions as an aphrodisiac. Coriander is now widely used in specialty and Belgian style beers.
The Chamomile got its name from a Greek word which means earth apple and many other words that meant apple since the plant often has a distinguishable apple-like scent. There are many names of the Chamomile like wild Chamomile, Hungarian chamomile, pineapple weed and scented mayweed.
Dried Elderberries (Sambucus nigra)
Native to the British Isles, the small dark colored elderberry makes an excellent "port" style wine. The appearance of berries on the bushes is said to have signaled farmers when to sow their wheat. The berries are also reputed to have been used to make one of the first black hair dyes in ancient Greece.
Dried Elderflowers (Sambucus nigra flora)
These natural wonders are good for the outside as well as the inside. Elderflowers infused in creams have been used to soften skin, smooth wrinkles, fade freckles and soothe sunburn. They can be used on their own for making wine or can be added to elderberry wine to enhance flavor. On their own, they produce a wine compared to a muscatel. Hot elderflower tea, like chamomile, can make a soothing nightcap and is said to offer natural relief for the common cold
Dried Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Mugwort was used in the Middle Ages to ward off evil possession and was a popular stuffing for roast goose. As the name implies, it was traditionally used in mugs of beer before the popularity of hops. Europeans frequently stuffed pillows with mugwort (and hops) to bring good and vivid dreams.
Dried Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
Woodruff was one of the essential garlands hung in medieval European churches in preparation for holidays. The distinctive scent of fresh-cut hay and vanilla gives an exhilarating flavor to wines, punches and beer. Woodruff is considered by the FDA to be safe for use in alcoholic beverages but caution is advised for other internal uses.
Ginger Root (Zingiber officinale)
The pungent taste of ginger is due to nonvolatile phenylpropanoid-derived components, particularly gingerols and shogaols, which form from gingerols when ginger is dried or cooked. Mature ginger roots are fibrous and nearly dry. Powdered dry ginger root is typically used as a flavoring for recipes such as gingerbread, cookies, crackers and cake, ginger ale and ginger beer.
Grapefruit Peel (Citrus paradisi pericarpium)
Just in time for sun and sand fun, add sweet and tangy citrus flavors and make your summertime beer even more refreshing.
Heather Tips (Calluna vulgaris)
It is both the flowers and the greenery of this wonderful herb which impart a pleasing aroma and smooth bitterness to beers. It is especially appropriate for a Scotch ale known as Fraoch. With a flavor similar to a subtle chamomile/mint blend with a hint of lavender, heather pairs well with honey. It's also great for tea, with reputed calming qualities.
Indian Sarsaparilla (Hemidesmus indicus)
The herb takes its name from the Spanish "sarza" meaning a bramble, and "parilla", a vine. It is a misconception that sarsaparilla is the primary flavor of the beverage bearing its name. Refreshing sarsaparilla is made from a root beer type base to which has been added many roots and herbs. The sarsaparilla herb was originally added to beverages to help improve mouthfeel and head retention, but mainly for its medicinal properties as an agent to cure mouth sores, rheumatism and dropsy.
Juniper Berries (Juniperus communis)
Usually known as the principal flavoring in gin, it is also used to flavor beer and other beverages. Native Americans have utilized juniper for its healing powers and to relieve arthritis. In folk lore, juniper planted outside a front door kept out witches who had to correctly count its needles before entering the house.
Lemon Peel (Citrus limon)
Adds a lemon/citrus flavor and aroma. Great for Summer ales and wheat beers.
Lime Peel (Citrus auratifolia)
Often used to accent the flavors of foods and beverages, grown all year round and usually sweeter than lemons, lime is valued both for the acidity of its juice and the floral aroma of its zest. Commonly found in Wheat and Belgian style beers where, if used properly, can give an intense citrus taste and aroma.
Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Do not confuse the flavor of licorice with that of anise, which is not related and is quite different when tasted side by side. Licorice has been used for everything from cough remedies to ulcer cures. The root imparts a very characteristic flavor and is surprisingly sweet. It contains glycyrrhizin, a substance 50 times sweeter than sugar, and is often added to chocolate to enhance sweetness.
Organic Cacao (Cocoa) Nibs (Theobroma cacao)
100% pure, partially fermented organic cacao. Add the flavor Americans love, chocolate, to your craft beer for a new brew that's sure to be everybody's new favorite!
Paradise Seeds (Aframomun melegueta)
Also called Grains of paradise,Guinea grains and Melegueta pepper, these small seeds look like cardamom but have a character all their own. The spice is native to West Africa and during medieval times was used to flavor food. It has also been used as a pepper substitute. While it does have a peppery zing, it also has notes of citrus and an earthy pine aroma.
Rose Hips (Rosa canina)
Used in wines, teas, specialty beer and confections, rose hips are a versatile fruit/herb. Rich in vitamin C, the rose hip shells with the seeds removed are the best type to use for wine as seeds can add undesirable tannins.
Star Anise (Illicium verum)
In times past, fresh star anise was chewed after each meal to aid digestion and to sweeten the breath. Used in specialty Belgian and holiday style beers, star anise has a flavor similar to licorice, yet is dramatically different when tasted side by side.
Sweet Orange Peel (Aurantium dulcis pericarpium)
While a cousin to the Florida orange, this sweet variety will not give your beer a metallic taste like the domestic version. If you're familiar with the taste of Cointreau or Grand Marnier, then you will be thrilled with the flavor that sweet orange peel can add to your Belgian style strong ales and special holiday brews.
Tangerine Peel (Tangerina pericarpium)
Just in time for sun and sand fun, add sweet and tangy citrus flavors and make your summertime beer even more refreshing. Vanilla Beans (Vanilla tehitensis) Vanilla is the second most expensive spice worldwide due to the extensive labor required to grow the vanilla seed pods. Despite the expense, it is highly valued for its flavor which is described as pure, spicy, and delicate and its complex floral aroma depicted as a peculiar bouquet. Despite its high cost, vanilla is widely used in both commercial and domestic baking, perfume manufacture, aromatherapy and craft brewing. Vanilla has been most commonly used in Porters, Stouts and other dark rich beers. Wintergreen Leaves (Gaultheria procumbens) While many people confuse wintergreen with mint, they are not related in any way. Wintergreen has long been used as an herbal remedy for arthritis, swollen joints and sore muscles. It goes by many names: teaberry, checkerberry, dearberry, spiceberry, boxberry, and even a tea party. The latter refers to its use during the American Revolution as a substitute for heavily taxed British tea.