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Mugwort-Cranberry Beer Recipe

Use mugwort, a common herb, and cranberries to hot brew a drink with medicinal properties. Substitute lemons for cranberries to try an alternative version.

| April 2019


Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), a culinary and medicinal herb, can be found growing throughout much of North America, Europe, and Asia. On the West Coast and in parts of Mexico, we have a native mugwort (A. dougla-siana) that can be used instead of the common species. The plant was used as an aromatic and bittering agent in old traditional European beer recipes before hops became widespread. The plant has also digestive, antibacterial, and antifungal qualities.

  • 1 gallon (3.78 L) water
  • 0.3 ounce (9 g) dried mugwort leaves
  • 1-1/4 pounds (567g) dark brown sugar
  • 3-4 cups (around 1 L) cracked cranberries or 3 large lemons
  • Yeast (beer yeast or wild yeast)


  1. Mix the water, mugwort, and brown sugar in a large pot. Using a glass or stone, crush the cranberries and place them in the pot. If you’re using lemons, squeeze out the juice with your hands then throw them in the pot. Bring the solution to a boil; let it boil for 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and place it in cold water. Cool to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), then add the yeast (wild or commercial). One 5-gram (0.176-ounce) packet of commercial yeast is usually enough for 5 gallons (18.9 L), so you don’t need to use the whole packet. If I’m using a wild yeast starter, I usually use a bit more than 1/2 cup (120 ml) of liquid.
  3. Strain the brew into the fermenter. Position the air-lock or cover your fermenter with a paper towel or cheesecloth. Let the brew ferment for 10 days. Start counting when the fermentation is active (this may take 2 to 3 days with a wild yeast starter).
  4. Siphon into 16-ounce (500 ml) swing-top beer bottles (you’ll need seven bottles) and prime each one with 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) white or brown sugar for carbonation. Close the bottles and store in a place that’s not too hot. The beer will be ready to drink in 3 to 4 weeks.

wildcrafting-brewerFermentation fans and homebrewers are invited to rediscover a galaxy of wild and cultivated plants, fruits, berries, and other natural materials traditionally used to make a whole spectrum of creative fermented drinks. Wild-plant expert and forager Pascal Baudar opens a new world of possibilities for those who want to explore the flavors of their local terroir. Try this herbal Mugwort-Cranberry Beer recipe. The Wildcrafting Brewer will attract natural foodies, foragers, herbalists, and chefs. Readers will be surprised by how easy making natural drinks can be, and will be inspired by the abundance of natural all around them. Order from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store or by calling 800-234-3368.

From The Wildcrafting Brewer by Pascal Baudar, © 2018 by Pascal Baudar. Reprinted by arrangement with Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT.



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