Pascal Baudar's book The Wildcrafting Brewer: Creating Unique Drinks and Boozy Concoctions from Nature’s Ingredients (Chelsea Green, 2018) reveals both the underlying philosophy and the practical techniques for making your own delicious concoctions, from simple wild sodas, to non-grape-based “country wines,” to primitive herbal beers, meads, and traditional ethnic ferments like tiswin and kvass. The origins of brewing involve a whole galaxy of wild and cultivated plants, fruits, berries, and other natural materials, which were once used to make a whole spectrum of creative, fermented drinks. Now fermentation fans and home brewers can rediscover these “primitive” drinks and their unique flavors in The Wildcrafting Brewer. This recipe for dandelion beer is good for you.
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) can be found pretty much anywhere in the world. Like nettle beer, dandelion beer is deeply rooted (no pun intended) in the tradition of brewing medicinal herbal beers. It’s mostly used as a tonic (the plant is a rich source of beta-carotene and vitamin C) but also offers health benefits for liver disorders, urinary disorders, and diabetes. The flowers are used to make wine and are a good source of wild yeast. I like the beer more for its health benefits than its taste (not my favorite).
- 1/2 pound (227 g) fresh dandelion greens
- 1/2 ounce (14 g) chopped dried dandelion roots (often available from natural food stores)
- 1 gallon (3.78 L) water
- 1 pound (454 g) brown sugar
- 1/2 ounce (14 g) gingerroot (cut finely or grated)
- 1 ounce (28 g) chopped fresh lemongrass, or 3 lemons (optional)
- 1 ounce (28 g) cream of tartar
- Yeast (beer yeast or wild yeast)
1. Bring the water to a boil and add the fresh greens and dried roots. Boil for 20 to 30 minutes, then add the brown sugar, the ginger, the optional lemons (juice them first, then throw them in the brew as well), and the cream of tartar. Boil for another 5 minutes.
2. Remove the pot from the heat and place it (with the lid on) in cold water. Change the cold water two or three times until your beer is lukewarm (around 70 degrees Fahrenheit).
3. Strain into your fermenter (bottle, pot, or whatever you’re using), add the yeast (wild or commercial), and place an airlock (or clean towel) on top.
4. Ferment for 7 days. Start counting when the fermentation is active (this may take 2 to 3 days with a wild yeast starter), then bottle. I don’t use any priming sugar. The fermentation is active, so I like to use a recycled plastic soda bottle to monitor for any excess carbonation and release it if necessary by opening the top slowly. The beer is meant to be drunk young, usually after 7 to 10 days.
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This excerpt is from Pascal Baudar's book The Wildcrafting Brewer: Creating Unique Drinks and Boozy Concoctions from Nature’s Ingredients (Chelsea Green, 2018) and is printed with permission from the publisher.