Purple Basil Beer

This recipe is based on this one from TastyBrew.com, but with some significant differences. I brewed it with some of the huge pile of Fuggles hops from the garden which I harvested in August, and purple basil also from the garden. Purple basil is a hardy species with a strong menthol note, which does far better than any other basil in the English climate, and even does well outdoors.

INGREDIENTS – for 5 gallons

Coopers Malt Extract Light 1.5kg

Brupaks Malt Extract Amber 0.7kg

Melanodin Malt (crushed) 0.5kg

Cara Wheat Malt (crushed) 0.2kg

Flaked Barley (unmalted) 0.1kg

Dextrin 0.1kg

Fuggles Hops (dried) 2oz

Purple Basil (fresh) 2oz

WYeast Activator 1272 – American Ale II

1 tsp Irish Moss

The whole brew takes 90 mins, and I suggest using max 3 gallons brew volume. Put the rest of the water in the fridge if you can – this will help cool down the wort later. Mash the malt, barley and flaked wheat in a muslin bag for 40 mins. Start at 68C and gradually increase the temperature, aiming for 75C at the end of the mash. Remove the grain bag, add the malt extract, dextrin, and 1oz of hops, and increase to 100C. 20 mins later, add half an ounce of hops, and 15 mins after that, add the final half ounce, and the Irish Moss. 10 mins later, add the basil. After 5 more mins, It’s done. Add your cold water and cool to nearly the pitching temperature recommended on your yeast. Transfer from your brew kettle to the fermentation vessel, making sure to aerate the wort well, and pitch the yeast.

The primary fermentation should take a week at room temperature. Once it’s done, rack the beer off into your pressure barrel or bottle it, adding 100g more dextrin to prime. Before bottling, I find it easiest to rack the beer into a 5 gallon barrel with a spigot, mix in all the priming sugar, and use the spigot to bottle it. I enjoyed this beer from a keg though, without much carbonation and at room temperature. I found when bottling some later with more carbonation that the taste of the extra CO2 interfered with the basil aroma – after all, CO2 forms carbonic acid in solution. The sour taste can enhance some flavours, but not this one! Carbonic acid is a large component of the flavour of lager and soft drinks – once a lager goes flat, the taste remaining reminds me of baked beans.

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