Dandelion Bitter Brown Ale

It’s brewing day again. This beer isn’t even beer yet and already it’s a tale of woe.

  • 7 lb amber liquid malt extract
  • 1 lb amber dry malt extract
  • 8 oz brown malt
  • 8 oz chocolate malt
  • 3.5 oz dried dandelion roots – 60 min
  • ~3/4 oz dried yarrow leaves – 60 min
  • ~1/4 oz Perle hops (9% AAU pellets left over from a previous batch) – 60 min
  • 1 oz Fuggles – 5 min
  • 1 tsp Irish moss – 20 min
  • Yeast. Woe is yeast. I had a starter of my saved Northwest Ale, but let this be a lesson to you all: Always doublecheck your starter on brew day, while the homebrew store is still open. Because even if it was krausening like a dream earlier in the week, it might have gone moldy on you since then. In desperation I dug through the fridge and pulled out one jam jar of ale yeast and another of mead yeast, and pitched them both.

This is also the bitterest wort I’ve brewed yet. That’s not saying much, since I prefer sweeter beer styles – but it tastes very close to balanced to me while all of the sugars are still in there, so I am imagining that it’ll have a very pronounced bitterness when it’s done.

The bittering wasn’t intentional – I based the amount of dandelion off this recipe and commentary, adding the yarrow and leftover hops to make up for my paltry dandelion stash. But if it turns out too bitter for my tastes I have a lot of hophead friends who like that sort of thing. Assuming of course that the yeast works out.

Update, 29 Dec: Bottled yesterday so I guess it’s time to finish this story.

I sent the Mr. to the brew store when it opened on the Tuesday after brewing, to pick up a couple of packages of yeast. Pitched them that night. Fermentation seemed to have kicked in OK the next morning, not super vigorous bubbling in the airlock but definitely active.

A couple of weeks after brewing, the gravity was only down to 1.04 and it tasted awful. Rather than risk contamination while transferring to the carboy, I just kept it in the primary bucket – turned up the brewing room heater a bit (baseboard heating means I am always subjecting my yeast to weird thermal stress) and swirled up the trub a few times over the following days to see if I could kick the yeast back into gear. Got some more bubbles from the airlock; then I got busy/lazy and ignored it for a while.

FG 1.018. (And oops, I forgot to write down the initial gravity, but it was close to the 1.06 the recipe called for – so, 5.5-6% ABV.) Not nearly as bitter as the initial wort – I actually really enjoyed what I drank from the hydrometer tube, even without carbonation. A++ will make again, hopefully next time with better initial conditions for the yeast.


  1. Chandra Kumar wrote:

    Hi Maria.

    My name is Kumar and I’m from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Like you, I used to be into Geology in a previous life. I linked to your site while searching for a domain name for my brand new WordPress blog. And since yours was the only one with the word gabbro in it (I was leaning towards Gabbrobooks for my domain name) I thought I should check it out and maybe follow it for a while.

    I read your posts, often not immediately, but when I feel like I want to escape to a place which seems to me so distant and alien, where there is this person who does interesting things that, again, are so pleasantly different from what I would ever do.

    You have written about bicycle paths through country lined with all sorts of flora that I know nothing about. The vision that takes shape in my mind is of a place that seems somehow peaceful and relaxing.

    So it is now Wednesday morning in relatively bustling K.L., and I am just not up to doing any serious work, so I thought I’d just say hello. Have a great day and enjoy that beer you’re brewing.


  2. erica wrote:

    Yes, good luck on the beer!

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