What makes a brew “hoppy”? Flowers, believe it or not.
Hops, one of beer’s primary ingredients (along with malt, water, and yeast), are the blossoms of the Humulus lupulus plant. Used as a bittering agent and preservative, hops are now bred and cultivated to contribute a myriad of flavors at various stages of the brewing process. But it's early summer in the northern hemisphere: Mother Nature has a bounty of non-hop flowers to offer right now. And plenty of global brewers are taking advantage to make beer that is even more seasonally land-connected.
Here are seven such examples.
Lilac | Brekeriet (Sweden)This sour ale from Sweden’s popular Brekeriet is brewed with lilac flowers freshly picked in Skane, in Southern Sweden. A perfect marriage of floral and tart flavors in a beer both dry and funky; drinking it evokes the feeling of enjoying the bucolic landscape in which it's brewed.
Rosée d’Hibiscus | Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! (Canada)Dieu du Ciel! is routinely cited as one of Canada’s very best craft breweries. Here, its self-described “soft spoken” wheat beer serves as the ideal base experimentation with hibiscus flowers during the brewing process. The result is a striking, rose-colored drink with lovely acidity.
Vulgar Affectation | Jester King Brewery (Austin)Inspired by famed Belgian saison producer Fantôme’s use of flowers, Texas’ Jester King Brewery looked no further than the fields surrounding it to pick the wild lemon bee balm and horehound flowers to use in this beer. A beautiful ale far from “vulgar,” it nicely expresses the area’s terroir, with a grassy start and a mineral-laden finish.
Aura | OEC Brewing (Oxford, Conn.)The self-styled “eccentric brewers” at OEC Brewing can always be counted on to offer something entirely new. For Aura, they blended a young ale brewed with elderflowers and honey with older, spontaneously fermented ales that had matured in both oak and pink granite. The ale is sweet, tart, and roundly bitter.
Sakura Lambic | OWA Brewery SPRL (Belgium / Japan)OWA serves as a bridge between the traditions of Belgian and Japanese beers. For this particular international hybrid, an authentic Belgian lambic ale is infused with cherry blossoms. (The national flower, sakura, is one of Japan’s most beloved seasonal wonders.) Tannic and tart throughout, the beer boasts notes of fresh-cut flowers and quiet cherry.
Flower Power | Scratch Brewing Co. (Ava, Ill.)Scratch is surely among the craft breweries most in touch with Mother Nature’s abundance, using primarily home-grown, locally sourced, and foraged ingredients in their recipes. For the aptly named Flower Power, a rustic saison is brewed with a miscellany of flowers from Scratch Brewing Co.'s property—it's delicate, earthy, and terrifically quenching.
Ostara | TRVE Brewing Co. (Denver)Who said metal-heads can’t also be flower sniffers? While Denver’s TRVE enjoy music cranked up to 11, its preference in brewing is far more delicate. Ostara is TRVE Brewing Co.'s gentle sour ale brewed with dandelion flowers, lemongrass, and lemon peel. Citrus-y, herbal, and brightly refreshing throughout.
News by Bloomberg, edited by Hospitality Irelland