Herbal Beers: Cheers to Fresh Flavor

Reader Contribution by Ariel Tilson
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Photo by Flickr/onkel wart.

I’m a pretty conventional beer drinker — usually I buy whatever’s on special and what is relatively light. But sometimes I like to mix it up and try heavier wheat ales with combinations of sweet flavors, such as raspberries, oranges, and lemons.

Herbal combinations can add an interesting flavor-kick to traditional homebrews. Not only will you get added scents and flavors, but also medicinal benefits. For instance, lavender gives an aromatic and relaxing lift to any pint, and rosemary’s sweet flavoring can help sooth your stomach.

Hops are already an herbal staple for any beer recipe, but what about trying a beer brewed with coriander, oats, black currant or coffee? In fact, hops have only been the brewing herb of choice for the last 500 of beer’s more than 4,000-year history.

If you’re daring enough, and have more chemistry skills than me, you can even brew your own herbal beer. Use this recipe as a starting off point and make your own unique blend.

Photo by Flickr/Justin C Lenk.

Herbal Beer Recipe

Nettles and dandelions tend to produce bitter flavors, but ginger’s sweetness will help balance the taste. 


  • 1 handful fresh nettle tops
  • 1 handful dandelion flowers
  • 1-1/2 pounds sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, freshly-grated
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 1/2 ounce yeast 


1. Add the nettles to a pan. Cover with about 19 cups water, bring to a boil, and cook for 10 minutes. Strain into a bowl and set aside.

2. Add dandelion flowers to another pan, cover with 19 cups water, and boil for 10 minutes. Strain into the same bowl as the nettles. Stir in sugar and ginger and mix well.

3. Transfer to a fermenting bucket, arrange lemon slices, and scatter yeast on top. Cover and allow to sit over night; strain liquid, bottle, and store in a cool, dark place for at least 3 weeks — then bottoms up!

Inspiration for edible alchemy.