Earwicker’s Jasmine Stout

A traditional Irish stout laced with the fragrant perfume of jasmine blossoms!
  • Grain bill:  Maris Otter, Roast Barley, Flaked Barley
  • Hops:  East Kent Goldings
  • Yeast:  Imperial A10 Darkness
  • Secret ingredients:  Dried Jasmine Buds


Origin Story:

This strange idea I owe to my friends Scott and Laura.  While Scott’s not a devoted beer drinker, I’ve roped him into many evenings at Tom Bergin’s, a local Irish pub, and he has developed an appreciation for Guinness.  When I was showing off my homebrew setup to the two of them, Scott asked whether I had made an Irish stout yet.  Laura, on the other hand, implored me to make a beer with jasmine—it seems that their daughter’s pandemic hobby has been making ice cream and jasmine was a big hit.

The jasmine idea swam in my head for a while—what beer would benefit from jasmine?  I considered that it would have to be a very light style so that the jasmine wasn’t overpowered.  Then Guinness came to mind.  The truth is that, for all of its darkness, Irish stout has a dry, mild character with hints of tannins.  Jasmine green tea is very popular—wouldn’t a jasmine stout be lovely?

For the initial brew of Earwicker’s, I put dried jasmine buds into the boil for about 20 minutes to treat it like a jasmine tea, and then dry-hopped aggressively with jasmine buds for about a week.

This beer is still in the process of conditioning; in my initial tastings I’m getting some vegetal harshness that reminds me of some of the issues with the first brew of Secret Cat, which dry-hopped with rosemary.  I will have more to report in this space—provisionally, I’m thinking Earwicker’s may need a rebrew with jasmine extract used in place of the dried buds so the flavor can be dialed in more elegantly.

This label was fun for me to put together, and is both an homage and a puzzle—Laura’s art is exceptional.  Rather than explain it, I’d rather make it a game for my community.  If you’re so moved, go to the reviews to:

  1. Identify the literary episode I’m parodying
  2. Decode the conversation between these alewives
  3. Explain the transformations that have taken place with a list of at least 20 examples

There will be a prize for the first solid answer.  

Music Pairing:

The funniest knock on Kate Bush I remember was a review of Hounds of Love that described her as “playing Ophelia to her own Hamlet”.  This has her dead to rights—but if she didn’t inhabit these roles so completely her music wouldn’t be half as compelling.  She’s one of the most vivid illustrations of the following principle:  if we take it as granted that every artist is full of shit, then their success is based on the quality of their bullshit.  As far as I’m concerned, Kate Bush deals in some high-grade shit.

I don’t think she technically played Ophelia to her own Hamlet, but she did famously play Catherine to her own Heathcliff and, here, Molly Bloom to her own Leopold.  For the initial release of The Sensual World, Bush was unable to get the rights from James Joyce’s estate to use the closing soliloquy from Ulysses, so the album’s title song used a chopped-up and bastardized (though still recognizable) version thereof.  The estate eventually said Yes to her request, and on the album’s re-release 20 years later we got Joyce’s original language in all its heady, buzzing eroticism.

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