Flowers and beer have long been buds: Before hop cones (which are the flowers of hop plants themselves), brews were bittered with gruit, an herb mixture that often included sweet gale, yarrow and heather. Blossom-infused beers are less common these days, usually appearing seasonally and in the form of lighter styles—such as saisons, pale ales and Belgian blondes—that won’t overpower the flowers’ delicate bouquet.
Adroit Theory Persona non Grata
Sunny, tangy hibiscus flowers give this saison from Purcellville, Virginia, a charming rosy-pink hue as well as a raspberrylike bite that harmonizes with the base beer’s delicate, peppery flavor and dry finish.
Upright Flora Rustica
Use this seasonal brew as an aperitif: leaves, stems and flowers harvested each year from the same yarrow plant on Upright’s premises combine with Oregon-grown calendula flowers, providing huge aromatics to the bitter, bone-dry brew. It’s usually bottled about 45 days after the first spring yarrow flowers bloom (early to mid summer), with the barrel-aged version, Flora, arriving a few months after.
Forbidden Root Wildflower Pale Ale
America’s early brewers didn’t have access to hop farms, malt distributors or laboratory-manufactured additives; they flavored their beers with native plants. Chicago-based brewery Forbidden Root is reviving this use of locally foraged botanicals: Marigold, elderflower and sweet osmanthus lend sunny spice and rootlike bitterness to the brewery’s Wildflower Pale Ale, while magnolia counteracts the sweetness of pecans and African cocoa in Heavy Petal imperial stout.
Rare Barrel Soliloquy
The best part of this uberacidic golden ale aged in oak barrels with orange peel and rose hips (the reddish-orange fruit of the rose plant) is what lingers after the sip: a cohesive blend of flower petals, citrus, spiced cider, vanilla and almond. The Berkeley, California-based sour beer experts at The Rare Barrel re-released the beer on draft in March; time will tell if enough remains for a repeat bottling.
Indeed Lavender, Sunflower Honey and Dates Honey Ale
“There’s a fine line between a pleasant lavender character and turning the beer into perfume,” says Josh Bischoff, head brewer at Indeed Brewing Co. in Minneapolis. LSD (as this brew was known before the feds got involved) nails this balance with soothing lavender and sweet honey that swirl before a dry, tealike finish.
Each spring, Fantôme brewmaster Dany Prignon picks the dandelions that grow around his picturesque Belgian farmhouse brewery for use in this saison, the name of which is French for both “dandelion” and, oddly, “pee in bed.” After the yellow flowers are sun-dried and soaked in water for a few days, the resultant dandelion tea becomes the beer’s base, lending herbal whimsy that tempers the finished product’s acidic edge.
From syrupy extracts to teas and even salt, every item produced by the Wild Hibiscus Flower Co. stems from flowers. Add their flagship item, Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup, to your next glass of saison or Belgian tripel—as the edible blossom unfurls in your tulip, it’ll contribute sweet mixed berry flavors to the beer, and you can chew
it up when you’re done. wildhibiscus.com
The Root of Medicine:
According to Gayle Engels, Special Projects Director for the American Botanical Council (a nonprofit that promotes the use of herbal medicine) the real powers of flowers are their ability to heal. Topical oils and creams made with Calendula flower petals are useful for damaged skin, helping it heal from sunburn, rashes, scrapes and even radiation therapy. Echinacea may be effective at fighting colds and the flu. A 2015 study found a tea made with the flowers to be as effective as prescription medicine at fighting influenza. The soothing scent of lavender has been shown to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. Small studies have found it can reduce agitation in people with dementia. Goldenrod can act as a diuretic and is used to treat urinary tract inflammation and kidney stones. Yarrow contains flavonoids, plant-based chemicals that increase saliva and stomach acid to help improve digestion.