We have two large elder tress and this summer we are going to put the flowers to good foraging use. Next week, the plan is to make elderflower sorbet and cordial. This week, however, we made our first batch of elderflower beer. I did some research and made a traditional British country beer made from water infused with elderflowers, but added a modern twist to get a fresh, zesty flavour. Please try our elderflower beer recipe and let us know what you think.
Elderflower beer recipe – ingredients
4.5 litres of filtered water (to remove chlorine)
1 grapefruit, cut into segments (with peel)
3 lemons, cut into segments (with peel)
900g white sugar
Optional – 5g lager yeast (we used Mangrove Jack’s M84 Bohemian lager yeast)
Elderflower beer recipe – step by step process
Combine the water, grapefruit, lemons and sugar in a large pan. Bring to the boil and allow to cook for 30 minutes.
Take off the heat and add the elderflowers. It’s important not to shake the elderflowers too much because you want to retain as much pollen as possible. There may be the odd bug, so remove them.
Set aside, put the lid on and allow the brew to infuse for two hours. When you open the lid, you will be hit by the most amazing smell, which is a delightful blend of elderflower and citrus. I took a small taste test at this point, and the balance of sweetness, citrus and aroma is perfect.
Run it through a sieve and muslin cloth to catch any bits that may have gotten into the wort.
This is the experimental twist, and it is optional.
Allow the liquid to drop below 15C. Then add 5g of pilsner yeast. We used Mangrove Jack’s Bohemian lager yeast to ensure that the fermentation process initiates. This is an optional step because there should be sufficient natural yeast that has been released from the elderflowers to allow your brew to ferment, but we didn’t want to take any chances. We are also expecting the yeast to add some of its own taste characteristics to our brew. If you have a favourite brewing yeast, you can try it.
Transfer the liquid to a demijohn and put on a stopper with airlock.
Ferment in the fridge (between 10-15C) for 10 days – use the airlock bubbles to determine when you’re done. Since we used a lager yeast, it’s recommended to ferment at this temperature range to get the optimal taste. I just think the freshness of the lager yeast with the elderflower and citrus should make for an excellent match.
If you missed it, we came up with a hack to brew lagers using an Eve Room and Eve Energy smart plug – check it out here.
If you didn’t use any yeast, your fermentation should be done in about three days. Watch the airlock bubbles as an indicator.
If you don’t want to go down the lager yeast route because of the cooling required, you can opt for ale yeast and allow to ferment at room temperature. I think ale yeast, from our nettle beer experiment, might be too heavy for this drink. But if you try it, please let us know how it came out.
After 3-10 days (depending which fermentation path you went down) transfer to bottles. For simplicity, we use flip-top bottles. Seal the bottles and place in a cool place if you didn’t use yeast or in the fridge if you opted for lager yeast.
I did another taste test at this point, and the elderflower beer flavour is balanced and fresh. I personally think it’s a winner and more interesting than the nettle beer we made earlier this year.
We’re going to bottle condition our elderflower beer in the fridge for two weeks (at 10-15C), so we don’t know at this stage what the final taste will be like, but we wanted to share our recipe so that you could try this if you have access to elderflowers which are flowering now.
If you didn’t use yeast, the guidance is to bottle condition for two months. That’s a long wait.
We will update you when we pop our first bottle, and please share your results if you use our elderflower beer recipe.