Brewing With Herbs – When and How Much to Use?

I started writing my brewing with herbs series then realized I forgot to write an introduction piece. I apologize however but I got so caught up in the articles it slipped my mind.

Brewing with herbs goes back centuries with Europeans from the 1600’s onwards using herbs in their brews. In Scotland for example they used heather and elderflowers to make beer.

Brewing with Heather
Heather is used in Scottish Brewing

Why People Brewed with Herbs

Hops weren’t imported into Scotland till the 1800’s, brewers therefore had` to use other plants instead. To bitter and flavor the beer to offset the sweetness from the grains used.

Like different hop varieties herbs can impart different aromas and flavors to the beer. The difference being brewers were limited to seasonality; with herbs only available at certain times of the year.

Some of the beers they brewed back then may not be recognizable to most beer drinkers today. They were brewing drinks such as Sahti and Scottish Gruit which you can still find today; being produced by niche brewers.

Modern Brewing with Herbs

Breweries today still use herbs in commercial brewing often when making seasonal specials when the herbs are ready to be harvested.

In New Zealand for example Monkey Wizard make a beer using Elderflowers to “dry-hop” their beer. In Scotland to reconnect with their Scottish brewing heritage William Bros. Brewing make a Fraoch Heather Ale.

In fact William Bros Brewing have a knack of making great beers using herbs; they have three beers made with elderflowers too.

What Herbs to Use?

There are number of herbs you can use when brewing with some of the most common listed below:

The herbs above in blue; link directly to a dedicated article on this site on how to use them in brewing (opens in a new tab).

Brewing with Herbs
Brewing with Herbs

So in our series, we will look into several herbs and how to use them in brewing successfully. Taking our cues from commercial breweries who have successfully launched such beers.

So far we have (click the link to open the article in a new tab):

I hope you will find this series useful; if you want share your own views or for me to cover a different herb then please comment below.

Thanks and happy brewing


Neil Playfoot

Neil is a brewer with 25 years international brewing experience. Based out of China (first came in 2010) he works as a brewing consultant helping brewers with their projects and brewing processes. To find out what services Neil can provide your brewery please click here. If you'd like to contact Neil you can email at
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