Using Elderflower

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BeerShark
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Using Elderflower

Post by BeerShark » Tue Jun 02, 2020 8:14 am

Hi All,

I'm looking for some advice please.... I am planning a summery session pale (around 3.5%) and would like to try some elderflower in it. Does anyone have a view on:

the best complementary hops for elderflower?
the best way to apply the elderflower (as a boil inclusion or "dry hop")?

Thanks very much!
Mark
Conditioning: High Cup Nick (SMaSH Cascade)
Fermenting: Cumbrian Rouleur (session pale: 3.5% with EKG, Citra and elderflower)
Planning: Crisis Management (bold Chinook / Amarillo lockdown release brew)
Drinking: Westmorland Pale (Hawkshead Windermere Pale clone attempt!)

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staghill
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Re: Using Elderflower

Post by staghill » Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:05 am

I have tried making elderflower flavoured beer using fresh flowers several times without much success. If you introduce the flowers to the boil, the aromas are boiled off, if you us them as a 'dry hop' there is a strong possibility that you will introduce wild yeasts.

The best solution I found was using a good quality elderflower cordial added directly to the FV when adding the yeast. I used EKG which I felt complimented the elderflower.

BeerShark
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Re: Using Elderflower

Post by BeerShark » Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:46 am

Great! Thanks very much for the advice and hop suggestion. I was kind of going down the mosaic, cascade or chinook route but maybe a Great British Summer Session Ale is the way forward! (that's probably just guaranteed a wet summer. Sorry!)

How much cordial would you suggest for a 23l batch?
Conditioning: High Cup Nick (SMaSH Cascade)
Fermenting: Cumbrian Rouleur (session pale: 3.5% with EKG, Citra and elderflower)
Planning: Crisis Management (bold Chinook / Amarillo lockdown release brew)
Drinking: Westmorland Pale (Hawkshead Windermere Pale clone attempt!)

f00b4r
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Re: Using Elderflower

Post by f00b4r » Tue Jun 02, 2020 11:34 am

James Morton’s “Brew” book has an elderflower pale in it and makes a few suggestions around how to add it (steep, hop tea or dry hop), I will dig out the details later.

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staghill
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Re: Using Elderflower

Post by staghill » Tue Jun 02, 2020 11:40 am

The last time I did it (quite a few years ago) I used a whole bottle of about 500ml. The taste/aroma of elderflower is quite subtle and I would try not to overpower it with too much US hops.

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staghill
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Re: Using Elderflower

Post by staghill » Tue Jun 02, 2020 11:41 am

The last time I did it (quite a few years ago) I used a whole bottle of about 500ml. The taste/aroma of elderflower is quite subtle and I would try not to overpower it with too much US hops.

BeerShark
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Re: Using Elderflower

Post by BeerShark » Tue Jun 02, 2020 12:07 pm

Very much appreciated f00b4r and staghill!
Conditioning: High Cup Nick (SMaSH Cascade)
Fermenting: Cumbrian Rouleur (session pale: 3.5% with EKG, Citra and elderflower)
Planning: Crisis Management (bold Chinook / Amarillo lockdown release brew)
Drinking: Westmorland Pale (Hawkshead Windermere Pale clone attempt!)

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Bad 'Ed
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Re: Using Elderflower

Post by Bad 'Ed » Wed Jun 03, 2020 9:07 am

I've made elderflower cordial a few times which has always gone well. However I made an elderflower champagne once which didn't go so well, it was far too bitter which I believe could be down to the state of the elderflowers when I picked them.

If you want to use real elderflowers instead of cordial, you should be fine to boil it for a while. I think I collected about one full bin bag of flower heads which (this bit is in my notes) went down into about 5 pints of flowers (uncompressed). That went into 6l of wine and was boiled for approx 10 mins.

The wine is very eldeflowery, so I imagine that you can just add more flowers if you're worried the boil will drive things off.
Never enough time...

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Re: Using Elderflower

Post by Cobnut » Wed Jun 03, 2020 10:39 am

@Bad'Ed, that's an awful lot of elderflower!

The recipe I use for elderflower sparkling wine only uses 8-10 flower heads for a 5L batch, which gives plenty of elderflower aroma and flavour.

I think one important factor with elderflower is picking it when the flowers are fully open and not at all brown, and then using very soon after picking. The flavour/aroma fades quickly.

This year's batch seems to be fermenting somewhat reluctantly, though. Started at 1064 and after 8 days had only got down to 1024. Given that the fermentables are mostly white sugar (with a bit of lemon juice), I'd expect to be down near 1000 by now and into bottles.

Samples tasting nice though, albeit too sweet.

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Fermenting: Belgian Blond
Conditioning: None
Drinking: Partigyled IDSP & PP, Single hopped APA, Banks's 1953 Mild, (extract) Single hop pale ale, London Porter, Thai spiced Saison, SMASH Keeping Ale (Chevallier, First Gold, Voss Kveik), Dunkelweizen, Hazelweiss, Amarillo dry hop lager
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BeerShark
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Re: Using Elderflower

Post by BeerShark » Wed Jun 03, 2020 12:23 pm

Thanks very much all,
I'm trying to make a summery session pale ale with elderflower tones, and reading above I'm going to have a go at including some dried elderflower right at the end of the boil (probably 5-10 mins) to avoid any wild yeasts getting into the FV and then I'm going to add cordial directly to the FV (as staghill suggests). I'm just a bit undecided on the hops but very probably going towards EKG - again as staghill suggests! Cheers!
Conditioning: High Cup Nick (SMaSH Cascade)
Fermenting: Cumbrian Rouleur (session pale: 3.5% with EKG, Citra and elderflower)
Planning: Crisis Management (bold Chinook / Amarillo lockdown release brew)
Drinking: Westmorland Pale (Hawkshead Windermere Pale clone attempt!)

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Bad 'Ed
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Re: Using Elderflower

Post by Bad 'Ed » Wed Jun 03, 2020 1:11 pm

BeerShark wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 12:23 pm
then I'm going to add cordial directly to the FV (as staghill suggests). I'm just a bit undecided on the hops but very probably going towards EKG - again as staghill suggests! Cheers!
Make sure you understand whether the cordial is fermentable or not - it will either alter your abv or make the beer sweeter. I would recommend getting something fermentable.

From a hops point of view, I would back what others have said and go for something simple. Probably something you've made before so you can identify the impact of the elderflower. I'd probably go for a fuggles / goldings combo but any classic English pale recipe should do. There are lots about.

One of Badger's beers (Golden Champion?) Has elderflower in and probably has a fair few clone recipes around. Buy one of those from the supermarket and design your beer in contrast to that.
Never enough time...

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Re: Using Elderflower

Post by Northern Brewer » Wed Jun 03, 2020 6:37 pm

Having had quite a lot of elderflower ciders, my comment would be that elderflower is quite a subtle taste and if you want "obvious" elderflower then you need to go the syrup route, dry-elderflowering does work but even if you use lots then at most it imparts quite a subtle taste. Subtle can be good, it just depends on what you're looking for.

As for hops, my immediate reaction would Styrians, trad German or some of the more obscure modern British varieties like Boadicea. Maybe UK Cascade?

If you wanted something a bit more left-field, then a geraniol-rich hop like Bravo in the whirlpool.

I'd play around with different yeasts, T-58 would be one to try as it can do some slightly unpredictable things with those kinds of flavours, could be great could be terrible.

f00b4r
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Using Elderflower

Post by f00b4r » Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:15 pm

Apologies for the late reply on this one but it is still probably worth adding the info I promised before.
James Morton has a elderflower pale ale (5.8-6% ABV) recipe and suggests:

“If you want an ‘in your face’ elderflower flavour, wait until after your primary fermentation and add an elderflower ‘tea’ made with dried or fresh elderflower, steeped in boiling water until it hits the level of flavour you like. If you add bare elderflower to cool beer, you’ll infect it with wild yeast. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily.”

The actual recipe however suggests a 30 minute aroma steep (75-79C) with a litre jug of fresh flowers, stalks removed.
I have always fancied trying something along the lines of this recipe so let us know what you end up trying and how it turns out.

EDIT: he uses chinook and simcoe hops.

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Re: Using Elderflower

Post by BeerShark » Sat Jun 06, 2020 10:40 am

Wow! - so much great info - thanks so much all!
Just waiting for some bits to come from Brew UK and hopefully it's looking like brew day towards the end of next week (though not convinced - they've gone very quiet after taking my cash two weeks ago....).

I kind of like the idea of the elderflower tea (thanks f00b4r) - ideally I'd like to try something as "unprocessed" as possible. Bad 'ed - I know Badger Golden Champion very well from past Dorset holidays so I'll be really happy to reacquaint myself with that particular brew! I'm also tending towards fuggles / EKG. I'm using the same malt bill as a current brew "Westmorland pale" which I had a couple of sneaky bottles of last night and very happy with (85% Maris Otter: 10% Torrified Wheat: 5% Crystal). I also used a Goldings / fuggles / challenger combo for the bittering on this one - so if I go a variation on this theme then hopefully I'll be able to spot the elderflower coming through.

I'll let you know how I get on - but thanks again!!
Conditioning: High Cup Nick (SMaSH Cascade)
Fermenting: Cumbrian Rouleur (session pale: 3.5% with EKG, Citra and elderflower)
Planning: Crisis Management (bold Chinook / Amarillo lockdown release brew)
Drinking: Westmorland Pale (Hawkshead Windermere Pale clone attempt!)

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Re: Using Elderflower

Post by wilfh » Wed Jun 10, 2020 9:44 am

If your using fresh flowers watch out for the ones that smell like a cats urinated on them. You think you’ve found the best tree then it smells (and tastes) god awful.
Wilf

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