By Chris Jennings
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Here in The Beaver State we are fortunate to have a wonderful array of local flowers to help brighten the landscape and our homes. Growing flowers in your garden can now not only make your house the envy of the neighborhood, but it can also help you add some unique features to your summer brews. There are a large number of edible flowers that would look great in our yards and taste good in our beers, however, this is Oregon, so let’s keep it local. And one of the blossoms most commonly associated with our area is the rose.
Growing the Plant
Roses seem to grow in every yard in Oregon and there is even a huge garden devoted to the flower in Portland. Despite their prevalence, they’re actually not as easy to grow and maintain as it may seem. If you already have a rose bush, the first thing you want to check is whether it is getting the proper amount of sun and water. Also be sure to keep up on pruning. Rose plants flourish when exposed to six hours of sunlight in the morning. This allows the dew that’s formed to evaporate, preventing mold. If the plant gets more than six hours of sun exposure, give the plant more water than you would a rose that’s shaded. Check for proper drainage by pouring some water at the base of the plant and returning a few hours later. If the ground is still wet or you find a puddle, consider moving the plant.
If you need to uproot a rose bush or plant a new one, the best time to do so is in spring. Dig a hole that’s deep enough so that the roots don’t bend. Once the plant is in the hole, fill it in with a mixture of fertilizer and topsoil. Top that with some sort of ground cover like mulch to protect the roots and prevent weed growth.
Adding Roses to the Brew
Although rose petals are edible, the most enjoyable part of the plant is the rose hip. These form after the blossom has bloomed. Rose hips are best harvested in fall right after the first frost. When collecting them, make sure they are soft to the touch, but not so much that they squash. If too soft, they may be rotten. After harvesting, you can use the hips immediately or dry them to preserve them. Of course, you can often find rose hips at your local homebrew shop, but simply buying them isn’t as much fun.
The hips contain seeds, but you don’t need to remove these when adding them to your brew. Just know you might get some tannins from those seeds. Rose hips have a lovely sweet floral flavor and will give your homebrew a delicate aroma. The best place to use the rose hips is as a dry hop addition. They also work well at flame out, but you will lose some of their flavor and aroma. When first experimenting with the hips, go easy on the hops to let the new ingredient shine. This will give you a good idea of just exactly what the rose will lend to your brew. Though there are many different flowering plants you can make beer with, nothing is more Oregon than having rose bushes and hop bines sprouting around your brew shed.
Swaying Hips [AG]
Swaying Hips [Extract]
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.