Lord Wormcastle's Select Bitter Pilsner

20 litres; OG = 1.041; FG =1.010; ABV = 4% (calculated, actual values may vary.)

It's important when developing herbal beers that you get advice about your ideas from knowledgeable sources. Also, that you control the flow of your beer so that it is not abused. This is certainly the case with a beer containing wormwood. Although wormwood has been used in beer in ages past, it was usually due to an unscrupulous landlord who sought to drown the tang of the sour beer served in his inn with this most astringent bitter. Thusly, this beer is not for the faint of heart. For all you pirate brewers out there, read on!

When wanting to make a bitter Pilsner, it was all energies were focused on creating the most bitter brew imaginable - bitter, with bitter undertones of an amazingly floral nature. Malts with bitter (but light) qualities were selected, and a ratio established to blend hops and wormwood to engender a bitter quality in the beer that evolves and excites the palate. The added inebriating effect of wormwood was a pleasant bonus. Wormwood was used in the ratio of 15g per 20 litres - we recommend using no more than this amount, and 8g is probably sufficient to make a uniquely stimulating beer.

Note: wormwood (traditionally an ingredient of Absinthe) used to have a bad reputation due to the fact that it contains the psychoactive chemical thujone which can be harmful when ingested in great amounts. However, in the quantities used in alcoholic beverages, wormwood poses no risk. Still, as with all alcoholic beverages, it is recommended that you enjoy responsibly.

Ingredients:

  • 3kg pale malt
  • 900g Pilsner malt
  • 450g Vienna malt
  • 230g Carapils malt
  • 30g Cascade hops (40 minutes)
  • 60g Fuggles hops (10 minutes)
  • White Labs #800 Pilsner Lager yeast or Fermentis Saflager S-04 dried yeast
  • Spices &/or Herbs:
    • 8 - 15g dried wormwood (10 minutes)

Brewing instructions:

  • Mash at 63°C for 60 minutes.
  • Sparge with 76°C water and collect 22 liters.
  • Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops at times mentioned above. Add dried wormwood herb 10 minutes before end of boil.
  • Cool the wort to room temperature and pour into primary fermentation
  • Add yeast to the wort and ferment in a cool, dark place for 5 - 7 days. The ancient Vikings would yell and scream at the beer during this time to awaken the spirit of the grains, cursing it loudly to inflame its temper and increase potency.
  • Rack the beer into secondary fermenter, due to additional sediment imparted by wormwood. Let this brew ferment until the fermentation process is complete. You may want to add beer finings 24-48 hours prior to bottling to further settle the sediment.
  • Bottle or keg and enjoy - responsibly!

(Source: homebrewing.com. Recipe adapted to Imperial measurements as well as for availability of ingredients in South Africa.)