At Lowlander Beer we brew with botanicals for a number of reasons. Firstly we think it makes the beer taste better. In our (humble) opinion even craft beer was getting a little generic with its tunnel vision towards hops and we wanted to create something a little more exciting. Secondly, we are fascinated by the tradition of distilling within gin & genever production. It seemed a little unfair to us that they got to have all the fun using a variety of fragrant botanicals to create explosively flavourful liquor. Finally, we are passionate about the lost art of brewing beer with botanicals which was commonplace pre 16th Century not just in the Netherlands but all over the world. It might be hard to imagine a beer-scape where hops aren’t the focus point but it was once a reality. To look to the future of botanical brewing we first have to look back.
It may be hard to imagine what beer would taste like without hops but this wasn’t always the case. Hops were only woven into the thread of beer’s history relatively recently. Incredibly, the worlds third favourite beverage dates back over 7,000 years. Documented use of hops in this process can be traced back only 1,200 years. That means there was a full 5,800 years of blissful beer drinking without anyone even sniffing a hop. This begs the question of what was used to flavour and bitter beer in their absence? The answer to this (a whole variety of botanicals) is what has inspired Lowlander Beer.
Early beers were in fact terribly sweet due to the barley and a lack of bittering ingredient. As its popularity grew brewers began to experiment using new ingredients to counter the sweetness of the malt. Botanicals including flowers, herbs and roots (which were often ground into a mixture commonly known as gruit) were found to be the ticket to a more balanced beverage and ‘botanically brewed beer’ was born. The Netherlands, with its rich history in trading, found itself in a favourable beer-producing position. Their inclination to sea-faring saw them bring back a whole host of fabulously exotic botanicals which were duly added to the mix. Pre 16th Century Dutch beer grew to be renowned for its unique tastes with neighbouring nations clamouring to get their hands on the interesting brews.
Don’t get us wrong, we love the incredible aromas that hops provide beers as much as the next person. Whilst Lowlander’s beers have been heavily influenced by ingredients of the past you will still find a hoppy blast in every bottle. We have taken inspiration from the past to create a new hybrid selection of beers brewed with botanicals to create a subtle and lasting depth of flavours. Using botanical ingredients means that we can take an already great beer and give it a truly unique flavour and this is why we think that going back to the past will actually lead us to the next step in beer’s evolution.
The use of non-traditional ingredients means that there are no boundaries for our creative process. We love to hear feedback from you, our fellow beer-enthusiasts, so if you’re itching to see your favourite botanical make an appearance in a Lowlander Beer please get in touch. If you just want to follow our journey and see where it takes us follow us on Facebook and Twitter to make sure you don’t miss a drop of our discoveries.