Dandelion beer isn’t the same kind of beverage as most of my beer posts are about. Instead it is a fizzy soft drink in the same vein as ginger beer but with the addition of some boiled dandelion roots and leaves. I presume that the science behind it relies on the high acidity killing off the yeast before it gets too far with turning the sugar into alcohol leaving a refreshing effervescence without any further side effects.
The book I used as my guide, Drink Your Own Garden by Judith Glover, doesn’t go into those kind of details. In fact, it doesn’t even specify how much yeast to use or what type (I picked a wine yeast from Wilkinsons and used half a sachet) but a couple of weeks ago I picked some of the burgeoning dandelion population in the back garden and set to with a scaled down recipe: 50g washed roots and leaves, 100g sugar, juice from half a lemon, 6g root ginger, 2g of tartaric acid and 1l of water.
I’m afraid I can’t remember the exact method and the book has since gone back to the library but frankly that is not much of a loss. The result I got was mildly fizzy but sharply acidic. I’m trying to remember if I used all the juice from the lemon since it was a small one (juice of a lemon is a very fuzzy measurement) and perhaps the tartaric acid is too strong to round up from 1.54g to 2g (even measuring 2g is tricky on the equipment I have – it could have been closer to 3g or almost twice the recommended proportion). Above all, I’m not sure what the dandelions brought to the completed drink other than an excuse to stroll round the garden picking them.
I might try this again but I’ll definitely be tweaking down the acids and upping the proportion of dandelion and perhaps sugar; I might also look round for some other recipes (at a quick glance, Google has over 3 million possible results!).