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Farm To Fermenter, Our Brewers Get Down And Dirty

Imagine that you’re a brewer and you want some fresh ingredients for a special batch. Where do you go?

For the brewers of Rogue Ales the answer is here at Rogue Farms, where we grow more than a dozen ingredients for our beers, spirits, ciders and sodas. If they want something all they have to do is give us a call, or come here and harvest it themselves. Our brewers enjoy getting some dirt on their hands and mud on their boots.

This is Danny Connors, the brewer at Buckman Botanical Brewery. He’s in the Revolution Garden gathering woodruff leaves.
This is Danny Connors, the brewer at Buckman Botanical Brewery. He’s in the Revolution Garden gathering woodruff leaves.

The most recent drop-in was Danny Connors of the Rogue Pilot Brewery in SE Portland.

Danny wanted to make woodruff syrup for a special batch of Berliner Weiss. When we told him the woodruff in the Revolution Garden was ready for harvest, he came by to pick some himself.

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Harvesting woodruff is simple. A pair of scissors to cut loose the stems, and some food baskets Danny borrowed from the kitchen at the Green Dragon Pub and Bistro.
Harvesting woodruff is simple. A pair of scissors to cut loose the stems, and some food baskets Danny borrowed from the kitchen at the Green Dragon Pub and Bistro.

Woodruff has long been used as a sweetener in wines and beers. It’s often infused in Maiwein, a spring wine served at May Day festivals in Germany.

It’s also commonly used to sweeten Berliner Weiss, a wheat beer with a sour taste . But first you’ve got to make it into a woodruff syrup. Which is exactly what Danny did when he returned to the brewery.

Step One: Pick off the leaves and set them aside.

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Next: Cook a simple syrup using sugar, lemon juice and citric acid.

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Finally: Pour the syrup over the leaves and let it steep for a few days.

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If you tried woodruff syrup before you’ll notice that Danny’s concoction is clearer. That’s because he doesn’t believe in adding artificial food dye just to pump up the color.

But it tastes just as good, probably better because Danny picked, cooked and steeped all the ingredients himself. Look for it the next time you’re at the Green Dragon Bistro and Pub in SE Portland where Danny’s beers are always on tap.

Growing, picking, floor malting, roasting, smoking and cooking our own ingredients is what the Grow Your Own Revolution is all about. Join us at Rogue Farms this spring to see it for yourself. Who knows, the person you see in the hopyard might be Rogue Brewmaster John Maier checking up on his hops, or that might be Danny back in the garden harvesting another batch of woodruff.

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