Here at Upslope, our brewers are constantly experimenting- often blending new styles with traditional techniques. This winter, we teamed up with local herbalist and nutritionist Elizabeth Willis and set out to create a hopless beer to capture the unique flavors of the season. Our inspiration came from the the ancient tradition of using spruce branches in the brewing and filtration process. After much experimentation we crafted a complex, warming, stout-like herbal ale for the short, cold days of winter.
For the formulation, we focused on creating a one of a kind beer with an emphasis on herbs that
promote overall winter health and good immunity like Echinacea, Siberian Ginseng, Fir tips, and local honey. Notes of fresh pine and chocolate are the centerpieces of this unique, hopless beer.
From the Herbalist Point of View: Winter Herbal Ale
Echinacea (echinacea angustifolia) This highly popular herbal remedy is used primarily as an
immunomodulant (to increase phagocytic activity of macrophages & leukocyte count) and is anti-
inflammatory, antiviral and is used to stimulate the lymphatic system. It is a cleansing, bitter, lyphatic and immune stimulating herb.
Fir (abies alba) A primary focus and flavor in this beer, Fir is rich in vitamin C and has been used traditionally for all types of respiratory irritation and discomfort. It can also be used as a topical antiseptic. Its flavor is bright, clean and potent and its action in the body is cleansing, expectorant, nutritive and promotes overall respiratory strength. We chose to use Fir over some of the other Pine family plants because unlike the evergreens, Fir (Douglas Fir) contains high concentrations of sugars, mainly trisaccharides and melezitose.
Oregon Grape Root (mahonia spp.) Oregon Grape Root is the primary bittering herb in this beer. It is a bitter, cooling, draining and detoxifying herb. In 1870, eclectic doctor, John Scudder, MD. described Oregon Grape to “right the wrongs” and “and give new tone and new blood to the body…” Oregon Grape is specific for promoting: liver health, good digestion and assimilation, while also being antiseptic and antimicrobial.
Siberian Ginseng (elutherococcus senticosus) Classified as an “adaptogen” Siberian Ginseng is a long-term tonic to build strength, energy, endurance and assist in the adaptation to stress and stress related illness.
Local Honey rich in enzymes, minerals, b-vitamins and vitamin C Honey is an excellent sweetener for many styles of beer. Honey is anti-inflammatory, tonic, antiviral, and antibiotic and offers a unique flavor that you wouldn’t get from using white sugar.
Elizabeth Willis CCN., CCH. has a private practice in Boulder CO, and works as a consultant with individuals and natural product companies in product development and consumer education to inspire better health.