Rosemary & Bay beer

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Before hops were common in beer brewing, herbs such as rosemary and nettles would have been used.

If you substitute the rosemary and bay for 35g of dried hops you can also make a simple hop beer.

For more authentic brewing, leave out the sugar, as this would not have been available. You could add honey instead, but this will be more like a braggot.

Without sugar the beer will be a lot weaker, maybe 1 or 2 percent, and so will not keep for long. This would have been made frequently and drunk within a few days at most.


  • 5 rosemary sprigs
  • 10 bay leaves
  • 500g amber malt extract
  • 375g sugar
  • 12 pints of water
  • Beer yeast (or Young’s super wine yeast extract)


Put the rosemary and bay leaves into a large pan and cover with 6 pints of water, boil for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile put your sugar and malt extract into a fermentation bin. Strain the rosemary and bay water through a muslin cloth into the fermentation bin.

Stir well to dissolve all the sugar and malt extract.

Pour in 6 pints of cold water and stir. Make a note of the gravity, it should be around 1040.

Add your yeast and leave to ferment for 3 weeks. Whilst a lot of recipes state much shorter times I find the beer benefits from this extended time.

Don’t forget to check your final gravity, if you haven’t already and want to know the percentage of alcohol in your brew.

Add a level teaspoon of sugar to each beer bottle and siphon the beer into the bottles. Cap the bottles (or use swing tops) and place somewhere warm for 2 days before moving to somewhere cool.

The beer should be ready to drink in 2 weeks, 3 is better.

Published by The Saxon forager

Wiltshire, UK based. I live with my wife & daughter, dog and chickens.

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