Heather, first used in mead, became a common ingredient in beer throughout much of Europe. In fact, fermented heather is considered to be the first fermented beverage in the British Isles, dating back to 2000 B.C.E. In Pictish society, it is believed that only chiefs were allowed to brew heather ale, which was used for ceremonial purposes. Although the Picts were eventually defeated by the Scots, knowledge of heather brewing survived and continues to be made by rural folk. (Harrod Buhner, Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, 1998)
Heather Ale (23 Litres)
3.27 kg Canadian 2-row malt
0.36 kg Amber malt
12 cups (about 500 g) of lightly pressed heather tips
8.5 g Irish moss
Mash at 67 C for 90 minutes
Use 8 cups of heather for a 90 minute boil
Use 2 cups of heather in a ‘hop-back’ when transferring to the fermenter.
When gravity reaches 1.015, remove 2 L of ale, add it to 2 cups of heather and steep it at 70 C for 15 minutes. Strain and return to fermenter.
For more recipes like this, check out Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephen Harrod Buhner, available at Barley’s Homebrewing Supplies.