Sweet Gale (Myrica gale) Used in Making Beer
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: David Drake
Posted on: June 18, 2003

Thank you for the reply, Cheryl! I am aware of the poisonous nature of several of the plants I ordered, so please know that my paleozymurgy research is informed and responsible. I’ll be ordering more from Richters in the future. In the realm of herbs online, your website is lightyears ahead of the pack.

I was wondering, though, if you carried Sweet Gale (aka Myrica Gale, aka Bog Myrtle/Bog Murtle) as a seed or as a fresh plant. It is native to our climate, but I have been unable to identify it in the wild so far. Do you have any leads? Thank you kindly for your time.

You had me reaching for my dictionary to look up the meaning of ‘paleozymurgy’! I have learned something: it’s the study of ancient beer making.

According to Margaret Grieve in her 1933 "A Modern Herbal" (http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/g/galswe03.html), "[t]he branches have been used as a substitute for hops in Yorkshire and put into a beer called there ‘Gale Beer.’ It is extremely good to allay thirst."

We don’t carry Myrica gale. We carry its near relative, bayberry (M. pensylvanica), but this species was not used for beer making as far as I know.

We can acquire seeds of M. gale on a special order basis. Typically when we do special orders, our suppliers and growers require us to order seeds in quantity. Probably the smallest quantity available is an ounce. If you are interested in a quote, please contact our commercial department at commercial@richters.com (include a copy of this posting for reference). Be warned, Myrica species are generally slow to germinate and to develop into mature plants. I would give this at least three or four years before you will get big enough plants to harvest from.

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