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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers

Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers:The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation by Stephen Harrod Buhner is a book I picked up because it was cited in Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. Usually I review such things within a couple weeks of getting them, I just realized I hadn't told anyone what I thought of this yet.
It's 450 pages of editorializing, basic instructions for primitive brewing, and information about the religious and healing use of the herbs and plants used in brewing the meads, ales and beers in the book. Some of the herbs used in some of the recipes can be dangerous, but hopefully anyone messing around herbs knows to check a couple sources for possible side effects. I have a couple herbals I use a lot for just that. The author does have a lot of respect for non-Western cultures and belief systems.
I don't recommend this book for anyone who needs step by step instructions to feel confident about making home brews or anyone who thinks that home brews need expensive equipment. The brews are basic and easy with simple fermentation processes. But for people who want that and history of beer-like drinks used in sacred practices around the world, it's fantastic.
Since I'm a lot more interested in simple beers and wines, it's a book I like a lot. Plus knowing the basic processes of fermentation can help you come up with your own recipes for wines and meads. I think I want to try an Alaskan honey mead using flowers native to Alaska, local honey, and local berries next summer and the recipes in this book are easy enough to adapt I feel fairly confident I can.

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