Nectar of the Gods

BYOB by | Feb 2016 | Issue #109
Illustration by Ellen Crenshaw

It’s February. The month when minds turn to oaths of love and pink is ubiquitous. It’s also the end of pomegranate season here in the Northern Hemisphere. Since pomegranate fruit is associated with love and the juice will turn a beer pink, it is way too perfect not to explore it this month.

Pomegranates occupy an important place in human history with mentions in ancient literature. Heck, it’s a contender for the biblically infamous Forbidden Fruit. In Greek mythology, Hades kidnapped Persephone to the underworld causing her mother, the harvest goddess Demeter, to leave the earth barren until she returned. Then, because Persephone ate a few pomegranate seeds, Zeus obligated her to return to Hades annually, creating winter.

Beyond legend, pomegranate has widespread culinary uses, particularly in Middle Eastern cuisine. Unlike many fruits, it’s the seeds we care about here with their precious load of sweet, tangy and richly colored juice. Forget the flesh and skin. Juicing a pom is a messy experience though, so I use pre-processed fruit.

For styles best served fresh, like this month’s Witbier, I prefer using pomegranate juice to offer the freshest fruit “pop.” Thanks to its “superfood” status, the juice is available in any well-stocked grocery store. For styles that are darker, older, richer and boozier—like a Quad or a Grand Cru (see variant), I prefer to use the more intense pomegranate molasses. Find it online or at your local Middle Eastern market. Either way, I add both products to the secondary or my kegs.

5.5 gallons at 1.051 OG, 22 IBU, 3.4 SRM, 5.4% ABV

5.0 lbs Pilsner malt
4.0 lbs wheat malt
1.0 lbs flaked wheat
1.0 lbs flaked oats

Mash at 150°F for 60 minutes.

1.5 oz Styrian Goldings | 3.5% AA | 60 minutes
0.5 oz Saaz | 3.6% AA | 10 minutes

0.1 oz coriander
1.0 tsp orange zest
64 oz pomegranate juice, added to the secondary

WLP410 Belgian Wit II

Grand Cru (variation): Increase Pilsner malt to 7.5 pounds and wheat to 6 pounds. Use a 12-ounce bottle of pomegranate molasses instead of juice.