Beer science

French Press Experiment #1: Rosemary

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The backyard rosemary plant, sometime after it was savagely cut back.

I really don’t have much of an idea why we have rosemary in our backyard veggie garden.

See, my wife does all the cooking at home. It’s not sexist – we have a deal that whoever cooks, the other person has to wash up. And she hates doing the dishes. And she’s a vegetarian (or, more accurately, vegequarian, because she eats seafood).

Now, what food does rosemary work so well with? Yep, meat. So we’re growing a herb that we almost never, ever use. And to add insult to injury, it grows like mad – I can and have neglected it for months and it grows and grows. I even had to chop it back. I think it’s mocking me.

We seem to do this a bit – plant herbs that don’t actually get used much in the kitchen. So it makes sense to put some of them to use in the French Press Experiments.

I took three sprigs from the huge frigging bush in the backyard, removed the little leaf things and placed them in the French press. After pouring the beer on top I let it infuse for two minutes. When I discovered there was no real discernible difference in flavour I left it in for another three – that’s five minutes’ infusion time in total.

The aroma was more mild than expected; after pulling apart those sprigs, my fingers still smelled more strongly of rosemary than the beer did. The flavour was even more of a surprise – it took me a little while to nail it, but it tasted like a ginger beer.

The rosemary tasted like it was combining with the malt to create a heightened degree of sweetness – and also fill in a void at the front palate. It did seem a bit thin, which I guess is to be expected because it’s adding flavour after the brewing process, rather than during the boil. But still, it’s a decent effort for the first French press beer.

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4 replies »

  1. Sweet idea though, would be cool to try lemon peel, basil and cloves in a wheat beer or honey, ginger and orange in a sour

    • I went more with the idea of making a crap beer taste better. But I think it would have been just as interesting to take the complementary approach – taking an already tasty beer and trying to enhance the flavour a bit.

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