Garland Orange “African” marigold (Tagetes erecta)

We’ve got a ton of these tall, prolific, orange marigolds growing in our garden, they’re shading out the other plants, and they need some pruning.  But why waste the beautiful flowers?  They are edible, and apparently “some cultivars are strong and bitter” which sounds a lot like how you’d describe hops.  Let’s put them in beer!

Since this is an experiment, and our inspiration came to us two hours before we had to be somewhere else, we took some shortcuts.


The Recipe

Name: Marigold Imperial Pils
Batch size: 2.5 liters
Boil size: 3 liters
Expected OG: 1.065 (75% efficiency)
Expected FG: 1.014
Expected IBU: ??

  1 lb Briess Pilsen Light DME

  0.25 oz Kent Goldings 6.47%AA @ 30m
  0.5  oz Garland Orange marigold petals @ 30m
  1.0  oz Garland Orange marigold petals @ 20m
  1.0  oz Garland Orange marigold petals @ 10m
  1.0  oz Garland Orange marigold petals @  0m
          Steep hops & petals 1 hour after boil

  2/3 pack Safale S-05 dry yeast (66F for two weeks)

The Brew

marigold-petalsFirst, about the liters…  this time we’re fermenting in old 3-liter wine jugs, so obviously we don’t want to end up with more than 2.75 or so liters of wort, or we’d have blowoff.  So we settled on 2.5.

Then, instead of tossing whole marigold heads into the boil, we pulled and used only the petals to avoid off-flavors from the stem and other flower parts.  We did an hour-long “marigold-stand” at the end of the brew to extract maximum marigold flavor and aroma from the star ingredient.

marigold-fermentingWe abbreviated the boil to 30 minutes because we really wanted to see what the marigolds would contribute, not the hops.  But we did add a small amount of Kent Golding hops to provide initial bitterness to the beer.  We did not re-hydrate the yeast because we pitched 2/3 pack of yeast into 2.5 liters of wort, plenty to counteract any that might die, and hugely over-pitching for this small of a batch.

Not surprisingly due to the amount of yeast, fermentation was vigorous and the smell was quite floral.  Since we used DME, had a well-controlled temperature, and over-pitched yeast, the beer fermented out fully and ended at 1.014 for 7% ABV.

The Result

You definitely get floral smell and taste from this beer.  While it doesn’t quite taste like marigolds, it certainly smells and tastes like some kind of flower.  There’s a slight hint of bitterness too, but not as much orange color as we had expected.  Unfortunately, the beer is way too sweet due to the high amount of malt extract used for the small batch.  Next time we’d use two-thirds of a pound of Pilsen Light DME for an expected OG of 1.043, but keep the hopping and marigold rates the same, leading to a light, slightly-malty beer that would let the taste and aroma of the marigolds shine.

Comments and Questions

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