April 20, 2010
My husband checked out from the library The Homebrewer’s Garden: How to Easily Grow, Prepare, and Use Your Own Hops, Malts, Brewing Herbs by Joe Fisher and Dennis Fisher. He got all excited when he realized there was a recipe in that book for a Dandelion Bitter Ale, which he attempted to make this last weekend.
I find it ironic that a plant that is almost 100% edible and puts off flowers is considered a weed and undesirable, while grass has no economic or resource value in suburbia, and even costs me money to mow which causes pollution. It is a little upside down in my thinking. I have an aunt who says it is because the dandelion propagates a little too easily that it is a weed. She might be right – if it was less common, people would actually recognize it for its valve.
So this book had a recipe to make dandelion bitter ale, which my husband decided to make only a 3 gallon batch of. He went outside and picked a bunch of dandelions, roots and all, and then cleaned them up for this beer. The recipe called for the leaves, blossoms, and roots, thought he found the roots to be a bit too bitter and eased up on them. I had been reading about making dandelion wine, which just uses the blossom. Most people who did this said not to use the stem, and since my husband’s recipe said roots, leaves, and blossoms, I talked him into removing the stems to make his beer.
He decided to do this batch using an all-grain beer brewing technique, so since he picked the dandelions first, they were left out on the counter while waiting for the beer wort to be ready for them, which was several hours, and not all of it required his attention. There would have been plenty of time for him to start it and then go pick the dandelions and prepare them to allow him to have maximum freshness.
Sadly, due to issues with the all-grain technique, this batch will only have about 3% alcohol, but I’m trying to get him to make it again because the second time around, when you know what you are doing, is bound to be better.
Sometime soon, I’ll go ahead and try making a dandelion wine.
Haha! One of my local newspapers did an article talking about harvesting dandelions today.