19th century culinary opinion

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Sencha Ginger Blonde Homebrew Ale

When I write, I like to drink beer to lubricate the mind and I like to drink caffeinated tea to stay focused. Sometimes I drink them at the same time. So after reading about brews made with things like safron and oysters in Burkhard Bilger’s article about extreme beer and Dogfish Head Brewery, I was inspired to combine my vices in a single beverage.

I also added ginger, because I like it. I started with the makings for a blonde ale from my local homebrewing store, Oak Barrel Winecraft. I chose that beer because I was afraid the bitterness of something with more hops would drown out my extra flavors. About 40 minutes into boiling the wort, which is closer to the end than the beginning, I added a sliced, hand-sized hunk of fresh ginger. As soon as I turned off the heat at the end of the boil, I dipped a bag holding one cup of sencha green tea into the wort and let it soak for five minutes. Then I strained and fermented the beer as usual.

I like the grassy flavor of sencha, and i was hoping it would come through in the beer. It didn’t. But the ginger did come, with a nice kick at the end of every sip. And it settles the stomach, too. As for the caffeine, the tea gives the brew a bit of a zing, but to get a strong effect I think I’ll have to use a black tea in a heavier beer. Maybe with some cardamom and other masala chai spices? I’d also like to add even more green tea to an even lighter beer.

While asking Uncle Internet if he had any beer recipes involving tea, I came across this excerpt of a text from 1822 bashing tea as a drink far inferior to beer:

I view the tea drinking as a destroyer of health, an enfeebler of the frame, an engenderer of effeminacy and laziness, a debaucher of youth, and a maker of misery for old age.”

The writer also says of tea that it, “besides being good for nothing, has badness in it.” Happily, there’s no badness in my tea beer.

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