Look no further than what Scratch Brewing (the source of Homebrewer's Almanac) and Fonta Flora are doing with their beers if your interest in foraging for beer ingredients hasn't yet been piqued. I'm just so enamored with the idea or brewing beers, mostly Saison, with the foraged ingredients locally sourced. It really jives with the old school mentality that a lot of modern Farmhouse Breweries are getting back to, beer of your surroundings if you will. I don't throw a lot of weird shit into the kettle, but maybe I should start, this guy does and his beers seem to turn out ok.
Earlier this spring I brewed my first real foraged ingredient beer, my daughter and I ventured deep into the wilderness to pick a bunch of dandelions off my neighbor's weed filled lawns. The terrain was brutal, but the couple hundred feet that my daughter and I trekked proved fruitful. Ok, so maybe I need to be a little more adventurous with our foraging hikes, give me a break, I'm a newb. Not everyone can scale mountains and find wild blueberries like Brian Hall from Brouwerij Chugach, I'm mad jelly.
The body on this beer silky smooth, something I was trying to get by way of a lot of wheat and a high chloride content then you might expect in a saison water profile. I have found in my barrel aged saison's that the high chlorides, much like in the NEPA's, keeps these dry beers from being very astringent in the finish. But with this beer, due to the tame fermentation character and the stronger than desired Honey malt character it just doesnt work. I think maybe it might be better to does the finished beer with calcium chloride to counterattack an overly dry astringency then build the water upfront, since you know I can't take it out. The beer is not bad by any stretch, it is just not what I targeted exactly, and due to the malt sweetness and mild fermentation character it's a bit outside of the "Saison" style.
My process for the dandelion's worked out very well, I wasn't totally sure what to expect from them but the aromas I got from the earthy hops and the leaves are very enticing. When I brew this beer next year, I won't waste my time deflowering the weed and just pop the heads off and get them right into the whirlpool. This keg here isn't my favorite, but the silky body and honey malt sweetness will work really well as a blending beer when I need to cut some acidity or build some body so all is not lost, and it is actually quite drinkable. Next up, I need to find some honeysuckles, not a clue what I am going to get from those either. Anyway, foraging, and beers made with foraged ingredients, both need work, or just dont use 10% Honey Malt in your Saisons? IDK.