Brewing with Juniper Berries

Today we are going to have a quick look at brewing with Juniper berries as a part of our brewing with herbs series.

Juniper berries are mostly associated with gin making. The berries are usually the main aromatic in gin. However brewers have been using Juniper in beer for centuries. Although not often used in modern beers there are examples about.

Brewing with Juniper Berries
Brewing with Juniper Berries

Breweries Using Juniper Berries

We have IPA 395 by Mammoth Brewery as well as Rouge getting in on the act with their Juniper Pale Ale. These beers seemed well received by drinkers with the piney or “cedary” notes of the juniper complementing other hop used.

There are other breweries also using Juniper Berries. Brewdog actually share a variant of their Bad Pixie Wheat beer recipe on their site which you can use as a guide.

What we can say though having a light beer (lager, wheat, pale ale or IPA) base for your Juniper berry beer seems to me the way most brewers go.

How to use Juniper Berries in Beer Making

Like most herbs in our series there are two ways we recommend using Juniper berries in your brew. The first way is on the hot side at flamout/whirlpool or on the cold side in the FV.

Whichever way you decide to use them we suggest using the dried berries. The flavor has been concentrated and they are ready to use without any preperation.

Dried Juniper Berries for Brewing
Dried Juniper Berries for Brewing

How Much Juniper Berries To Use In Your Beer

How much you use depends on the beer too. For a light beer with such as a lager or wheat beer then 25g per 20 liter is a good guide. If you are making a IPA where the juniper is competing with the hops then 50g per 20 liters is a better dosing rate. Making an APA then something in between.

When using in an IPA the piney notes of the berries work well with Cascade or floral/piney/citrusy hops. I am thinking about you citra!

Using Juniper Berries on the Hot Side

When using Juniper berries on the hot side note they can add some bitterness to beer. So we would advise using 85-95% of the hops you normally would and replace the rest with Juniper berries.

They don’t add too much bitterness as you will be using the berries at flameout or in the whirlpool. Actually the bitterness from herbs is more stable than hops. The bitterness from hops subsides over time but not when you use herbs.

If you have a whirpool add the hops when/or if you’re adding your whirlpool hops. If you don’t have a whirlpool add the hops after flameout and let the beer site for 10 minutes before begin collection into the FV (fermentation vessel).

Depending on your set up you might want to put the berries in a muslin bag and weigh down the bag with a inert object (some stainless steel weights). So you don’t take the through to the FV or break your pump.

Transferring Beer with Sight Glass
Transferring Beer with Sight Glass

Using Juniper Berries On the Cold Side

On the cold side you can use Juniper berries like “dry-hopping”. Adding the juniper berries with other dry hops if you like 1-2 Plato above terminal gravity. This is the process used in the Brewdog recipe earlier.

This will allow for some natural mixing plus help purge any oxygen that may enter during the addition of the hops/berries.

Similar to dry-hopping makes sure you dump the berries and sediment after 4-5 day from the bottom of the tank. You might want to evacuate the FV several times.

Some Unique Ways To Use Juniper Berries in Brewing

From the two main methods used above I have found other ways people have brewed with Juniper Berries. I read of a brewer aging his beer in gin barrels and adding juniper berries to the barrel too.

On a homebrewing scale some people like to macerate the berries with sugar. Then add them into the FV along with the dry hops (after primary fermentation has occurred) for some from of “secondary fermentation”.

My favorite was making a juniper berry yeast starter which is detailed here. A pretty cool experimental brew that turned out very well but not as easy to do on a commercial scale.

Thanks for visiting our page and if you want to learn more about brewing with herbs then please click here.

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 neil@asianbeernetwork.com.
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