5 Unique Herbs And Spices to Use on Brew Day

Flavoring delicious beer didn’t begin with hops, it began with herbs and spices. While beer has been brewed for many thousands of years, hops have only been a major ingredient for the last 500. As good traditions tend to last, we are enjoying a return to the ancient art of botanical brewing. You might have tried Summer Ales with notes of tangerine and lemon. Or a dark Chocolate Porter warmed with chili pepper. And it doesn’t stop there. Highly creative and forager friendly, here are five unique herbs and spices that brew exceptionally well in craft beer.

Limu Omani

While dried Persian limes have a dusky color, they offer bright acidity and an inspiring fragrance. Limu Omani undergoes a unique self-fermenting process that contributes brilliantly to its taste. The classic lime flavor is cut slightly, making way for a puckering tang that is also a little sweet. Memories of fermentation bring bitterness and heady depth, beautifully rounding out the citrus flavors.

These unassuming orbs are superb souring agents for beer! Steep the dried limes in vodka to sterilize before use. Limu Omani can be added to the primary or secondary boil, or even while the beer ages. A similar species of lime (black lime) is notably used in Dogfish Head’s “SeaQuench Ale”.

Saigon Cinnamon

With a higher essential oil content than any other cassia species, Saigon cinnamon is strong and peppery. Such potency makes the flavor and aroma marvelous for craft beer. Cinnamon bark has a warming effect and never fails to up dial the nostalgia from autumn to winter. And it can hold its own when combined with chocolate, coffee, and other rich flavors.

When crafting beer with Saigon cinnamon, add it to the boil during the last five minutes. It’s recommended to keep a lighter hand in the beginning (to avoid a cinnamon bomb of a beer). You can also boil the bark in water to create a tincture, then add to taste. Saigon cinnamon has been brewed successfully in “Saigon Scooter Selfie” by Two Roads Brewing Co.

Kaffir Lime Rind

Brewers know that the magic is in the rind. Which makes kaffir lime a popular ingredient due to its thick skin, rich in essential oils. Undeniably zesty, the spicy lime flavor blossoms into floral uplift and woody undertones. It’s no wonder that kaffir lime is the belle of Thai cuisine.

The flavoring and aroma also make it an intuitive choice for timeless beer. It’s potent, so use the rind sparingly (or in a blend with kaffir lime leaves). It can be added directly to the fermentor or during the last five minutes of the boil. For a kaffir lime brew done well, try Stone Brewing’s “Citrusy Wit”.


Hibiscus is a flowering plant sporting brilliant red/pink blooms. But it’s not simply for show. Because these bell-shaped flowers are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, they’re dried and steeped into healthy teas or agua de fresa. On the tongue, they offer a surprising and vibrant tang comparable to cranberry and pomegranate.

Brewing with hibiscus is a fun process. Steep it inside a mesh bag in boiling water to sterilize. Then add it and the water (which should now be a deep red) to the fermentor. Sample your brew every few days to avoid overdoing it, and remove the bag when you’re happy with the flavor. The eye-catching color and sour kiss of hibiscus have been brewed skillfully into “Rosa Hibiscus Ale” by Revolution Brewing.


A wispy grass that grows in subtropical climates, lemongrass can grow up to 10 feet tall in the summer. And has a remarkable lemon scent from the get-go. As you might expect, lemongrass offers a citrusy array of flavors along with nuances of mint (it’s herbaceous). The taste is otherworldly, very fresh … and may remind you of ginger without the spiciness.

When making beer with lemongrass, add it to your brew at the end of the boil before the fermentation begins. It makes an excellent blond ale for the muggy days of summer! To taste this aromatic herb in action, you might like “Lemongrass Luau” by Kona Brewing Co.

Fresh Spices Taste Better

Successful craft beer needs quality ingredients. Burma Spice is a leading supplier of premium herbs and spices for the best-tasting beer. Most of their products go from farm to table in days not months. No mass production, warehouses, or distribution networks. Learn more about Burma Spice and its mission at.

Photo courtesy Burma Spice

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