Thursday, May 12, 2016

Creeping Charlie

Disclaimer: THIS beer was not brewed with Creeping Charlie.
It did catch my eye as a nice background.
No, it's not the name of yet another new brewery opening, rather it's something found in many lawns, especially in the Midwest. On a recent trip home my dad was once again beginning his yearly battle against his greatest lawn enemy. Then mere days later a friend mentioned that he didn't care that most people hated Creeping Charlie, he liked it and was going to let it flourish in his lawn. Circling back to my dad, in a call to wish my mom a happy Mother's Day, he mentioned he had heard on some program he was watching/listening to that Creeping Charlie could be used instead of hops in making beer. I threw the question out to the interwebs and one of my Facebook friends was kind enough to dig up some information.

As I had suspected, and shared with my dad, Creeping Charlie would most likely have been used as heather has been in gruit-style beer. Sure enough, not only is that the case but apparently that application of Creeping Charlie was common enough to have earned itself an alternate name - alehoof.

Going back a millennia, Creeping Charlie has been known as a medicinal herb that is extremely high in Vitamin C, making it a great way to prevent scurvy. There are plenty of other medicinal uses for it and apparently it can be part of your next salad as it's a member of the mint family, just don't eat a whole bowl of it as there could be some dangerous side effects of gorging on it.

But what about brewing with it? This guy, who sounds like he would fit in perfectly in Portland, but currently resides in Hamilton, Ontario, posted a beer recipe using solely Creeping Charlie after a couple of previous attempts in which he used it in conjunction with hops. This time he was going all in but unfortunately there was some pretty massive fermentation happening (according to follow up notes) causing his glass carboy to explode and thus preventing him from sampling the beer.

I'll definitely be sharing all of this with my dad although I'm sure he'll continue his fight against what he sees as a stubborn weed. But perhaps for those with less old-school, more progressive views on what a lawn can be this may be an enlightening look at a plant that's great ground cover (another alternate name being ground ivy) and might just be worth cultivating for a future hop-less homebrew.

Many thanks to Michael Agnew who dug up the articles I've linked to. Perhaps he'll don his homebrewing hat for a batch of Creeping Charlie brew and fill us in on how it turned out.

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