There’s a long history of adding plant flavourings to beer. Hops is the most ubiquitous example, because its aromatic, delicious, bitterness counters beer’s malty richness so perfectly.
But the endless list of plants used by brewers covers everything from the sweet and sour cherry character of Belgium’s lambic beers, to sometimes cloying banana beers, to mildly spicy ginger beers.
I’ve tasted vindaloo-hot chilli beers and more subtle fruit expressions, like Matilda Bay’s grape-meets-grain ale containing Barossa shiraz juice. And only a few months back Chuck Hahn gave our palates the warm tang of Australian native pepper berries in a new James Squire brew.
But Hahn wasn’t the first to use a native plant. Richard Adamson and Scott Garnett of Baron’s Brewing claim that honour with their very good Black Wattle Original Ale and Lemon Myrtle Witbier, reviewed previously in this column.
We’re reminded of this because Adamson is off to the UK as Australia’s first guest brewer at the prestigious JDWetherspoons Beer Festival, rendering prophetic Bruce’s old Monty Python line: ‘This here’s wattle, an emblem of our land. You can stick it in a bottle, you can hold it in your hand’. Indeed you can.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008