BREAKING THE HOPS HEGEMONY: BREWING CLOSE TO HOME WITH FAR OUT PLANTS
Are you intimidated by beer brewing? Or have you worked your way through the usual beer supply store suspects, and are ready for something more than an IPA, lager, or stout? Let’s get wild.
Using Stephen Buhner’s Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers as our primary text, we’ll examine a variety of historical recipes, reaching back to a time before the Reinheitsgebot, the oft-lauded “Bavarian Purity Law of 1516”, made hops the sole acceptable bittering/preserving agent in Germany, and in effect, the world. Before that, untold numbers of plants were brewed with, some of them energizing, or even psychoactive, in contrast to hops’ strong depressant qualities. We’ll also examine the ways that prior to the Christianization of Europe, there was significant overlap (in the form of brewing) between nutrition, medicine, spirituality, and pleasure. We’ll practice with a few trial recipes using exclusively wild yeast, so we’ll be leaving something to the wind (literally), but everyone will go home with something to enjoy, and the knowledge to use their backyard (or local herbalist) to connect with their beer-loving, non-professional forebears.
*One full-tuition scholarship is available for this class. If you are interested in a scholarship or work-study position, please see our scholarship & work-study page and email this class’s facilitator here .
Nate Luce studied art at Bennington College, and is currently writing his thesis for a Master’s in Religion from the Harvard Extension School. He has been exploring home-brewing since he was in high school, but his interest in herbal alcohol traditions began when he was a distilleryman at the Kings County Distillery, working on an experimental whiskey-based absinthe. He currently lives on Martha’s Vineyard, where the ocean winds carry particularly delicious wild yeasts.