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How to make a Heather Ale?

Heather Ale is a style of beer that was made many years ago using heather tips in place of hops, which had not begun being used in beers yet. Heather was a way to provide more flavor to a beer that was otherwise boring. Well, beers made centuries ago weren’t exactly boring, but they weren’t exactly like beers we drink today either. So, if you are looking to make something that tastes like it came right out of the past, try a heather ale.

Heather has a flavor similar to a subtle chamomile/mint blend with a hint of lavender. You can also use heather in Mead or wines. Heather goes particularly well with honey.

An idea of how much to use:

  • 14 - 18 cups of dried heather tips should be a good ballpark for 5 gallons of wort. If you can get fresh, use 10 - 14 cups pressed flowering heather tips. This is a suggested amount so adjust to your palate.
  • At boil, add half of the heather tips. Add the remaining half at the end of the boil. When the gravity hits 1.015, remove 1 gallon of ale in a stockpot, bring it to a simmer and steep 3 cups heather tips for 30 min. Let it cool to 100 °F and return it to the fermenter.
  • Heather is used in place of hops. We recommend using a red or brown ale recipe to try out your heather ale, the darker style of beer will help tame the flavor of the heather a bit, so it isn’t too overpowering to the beer drinker. The traditional use was in a Scottish Ale, as there are still some very small breweries that have never stopped making this style of beer.
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