Author Topic: Cocculus indicus substitute  (Read 656 times)

Offline unclebrazzie

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Cocculus indicus substitute
« on: April 29, 2015, 08:41:40 AM »
In the pursuit of something resembling historic porter (I know, I'm chasing rainbows here but it keeps me young and happy), I came across references to Cocculus indicus as an adulterant. This poisonous berry was used to render beer more potent and give it inebriating qualities not derived from the fermentation process.

I can only shudder at the hangovers those 1780s porters must have caused.

Does anyone here know what Coccculus indicus would taste like and what I could use as a substitute? I'm not looking for narcotic properties per se; just curious as to what its flavour contributions might have been.

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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Cocculus indicus substitute
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2015, 10:56:02 AM »
Try emailing Andrew Zimmerman?

Offline unclebrazzie

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Re: Cocculus indicus substitute
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2015, 11:31:07 AM »
Try emailing Andrew Zimmerman?

You mean Zimmern, right?
All truth is fiction.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Cocculus indicus substitute
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2015, 11:39:45 AM »
Ya that's it

Offline unclebrazzie

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Re: Cocculus indicus substitute
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2015, 12:07:33 PM »
Mail the info address on his website. You never know...
All truth is fiction.
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Offline homoeccentricus

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Re: Cocculus indicus substitute
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2015, 12:38:42 PM »
From "Designing Great Beers": "Many of the other adulterants added to porter were designed to provide a stimulating or narcotizing effect that would give the drinker the impression of alcoholic potency without this cost. The most infamous of these additions was Cocculus indicus."

So it seems like it was not the flavor that was important, but the effect of the poison in the berries as a substitute for alcohol.

Plus: https://books.google.be/books?id=B_ujAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA133&lpg=PA133&dq=cocculus+bitter+porter&source=bl&ots=9ZjryweiKu&sig=Vz63hhxf0DkvERBbbkN3QHhWMyI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=KdBAVavzMui27AbGtoHYAQ&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%20cocculus%20indicus%2C%20a%20very%20bitter%20drug&f=false

Cocculus was a very bitter drug, and "often serves as a substitute for hops".
Frank P.

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Offline pete b

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Re: Cocculus indicus substitute
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2015, 01:38:43 PM »
Well I certainly wouldn't use the real thing:
Medicinal Action and Uses---The powdered berries are sometimes used as an ointment for destroying lice; the entire fruits are used to stupefy fish, being thrown on the water for that purpose. Picrotoxin is a powerful convulsive poison used principally to check night sweats in phthisis by its action in accelerating respiration, but it is not always successful. It was at one time used to adulterate beers, increasing their reputation as intoxicants; it is an antidote in Morphine poisoning.
I'm sure the flavor contribution was extreme bitterness.
If you want a more nuanced and safer, and IMO, good tasting intoxicant enhancer try yarrow. It has a very slight euphoric effect, much better than a narcotic effect.
Don't let the bastards cheer you up.

Offline erockrph

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Re: Cocculus indicus substitute
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2015, 06:15:59 PM »
Maybe some wormwood? Just be careful, that stuff is nasty bitter.
Eric B.

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Offline pete b

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Re: Cocculus indicus substitute
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2015, 07:51:24 PM »
Maybe some wormwood? Just be careful, that stuff is nasty bitter.
My girlfriend made an absinthe inspired mead with wormwood. After about 5 years it was actually OK. Eric's right, you need very little.
If you haven't already, check out Buhner's "Sacred and Healing Herbal Beers". Its a great read.
Don't let the bastards cheer you up.

Offline unclebrazzie

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Re: Cocculus indicus substitute
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2015, 12:40:55 PM »
Would mugwort be a substitute for the substitute wormwood?
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Cocculus indicus substitute
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2015, 02:53:15 PM »
Maybe some wormwood? Just be careful, that stuff is nasty bitter.

a friend of mine puts  alittle bit of wormwood in his pale ale and IPA. it adds a really braceing bitterness that's complimentary but different than hop bitterness... and the green fairies are entertaining too ;)
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Cocculus indicus substitute
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2015, 04:50:56 PM »
Maybe some wormwood? Just be careful, that stuff is nasty bitter.

a friend of mine puts  alittle bit of wormwood in his pale ale and IPA. it adds a really braceing bitterness that's complimentary but different than hop bitterness... and the green fairies are entertaining too ;)
Right. That was part of the reason I mentioned wormwood as a substitute for the Cocculus. Although it is doubtful that the alleged effects of the "green fairy" are truly due to the wormwood, rather than the adulterants that were in common use a century ago.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline 69franx

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Re: Cocculus indicus substitute
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2015, 04:53:39 PM »
Maybe some wormwood? Just be careful, that stuff is nasty bitter.

a friend of mine puts  alittle bit of wormwood in his pale ale and IPA. it adds a really braceing bitterness that's complimentary but different than hop bitterness... and the green fairies are entertaining too ;)
Jonathan, what does a little look like measurement wise in a typical 5 gallon batch if I ever feel the need to try this out?
Frank L.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Cocculus indicus substitute
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2015, 05:13:24 PM »
Maybe some wormwood? Just be careful, that stuff is nasty bitter.

a friend of mine puts  alittle bit of wormwood in his pale ale and IPA. it adds a really braceing bitterness that's complimentary but different than hop bitterness... and the green fairies are entertaining too ;)
Jonathan, what does a little look like measurement wise in a typical 5 gallon batch if I ever feel the need to try this out?

this friend actually plays that particular card pretty close to his chest but I would guess it's in the single digit grams per 5 gallons
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time"
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Offline 69franx

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Re: Cocculus indicus substitute
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2015, 06:29:37 PM »
Thanks, just need to experiment if I ever get around to wanting to try it out
Frank L.
Fermenting:
Conditioning:
In keg: Märzen
In Bottles:  
In the works: