Brewing Beer with Aphrodisiacs

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By John Moorhead, American Homebrewers Association

Aphrodisiacs, named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and pleasure, are substances that increase sexual desire. Almost every culture has devoted part of its mythos to foods and libations that induce and increase libido—one of which is beer.

Alcohol is known (and celebrated) for its euphoric qualities. It eases social situations, builds confidence and stimulates desire. Beer was even worshiped by Egyptians, who made offerings of it to their gods and used it as currency to pay their laborers. But be warned, over consuming alcohol can be harmful, dangerous and end what would otherwise be a magical night. In other words, drink in moderation.

There is a long list of acclaimed aphrodisiac foods. Figs, cucumbers, asparagus and bananas are considered aphrodisiacs based on their appearance and shape. While basil, honey, chocolate, oysters, chili peppers and vanilla have particular effects on the body (e.g. increased blood circulation, sex hormones and endorphins).

Foods rich in zinc, such as oysters, increase sexual well-being, and ingredients containing high amounts of vitamins and minerals, such as parsley, celery and caviar, improve health and stimulate sexual desire. Fruits are aphrodisiacs because of their connection with fertility (seeds, anyone?). The list goes on. Needless to say, there’s an aphrodisiac out there for everyone.

So, what makes craft beer such an awesome aphrodisiac? Craft beer already has alcohol, but it can be brewed with more than just barley, hops, yeast and water. You can combine aphrodisiac ingredients to beer that will increase its stimulating and love-inducing effects.

So, you would think beers brewed with oysters, chilies, honey, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, figs, strawberries or herbs like saffron and rosemary should create a super aphrodisiac.

Whether you believe in the power of aphrodisiacs or not, here are some homebrew recipes with a little extra somethin’ somethin’ for Valentine’s Day or any special occasion!

Oyster Stout

Featured in March/April 2014 Zymurgy magazine.

  • Original Gravity: 1.071
  • Final Gravity: 1.018
  • ABV: 6.96%
  • Bitterness: 32 IBUs
  • Color: 39 SRM

Ingredients for 5 gal (19 L):

  • 8.0 lb (3.62 kg) Maris Otter malt
  • 2.0 lb (0.9 kg) flaked oats
  • 1.0 lb (454 g) roasted barley
  • 1.0 lb (454 g) 40°L crystal malt
  • 1.0 lb (454 g) 80°L crystal malt
  • 0.5 lb (226 g) chocoalte malt
  • 0.5 oz (14 g) Magnum, 13.4% a.a. (60 min)
  • 1.0 oz (28 g) East Kent Golding, 5.5% a.a. (30 min)
  • Wyeast 1028 London Ale yeast
  • 6 whole oysters (boil last 20 minutes)
  • 12.0 oz shucked oysters and liquor (boil last 20 minutes)


Mash grains at 154°F (68°C). Boil wort for 60 minutes, adding hops and oysters as indicated. Cool and ferment at 70°F (21°C) for one week.

Partial extract version: Substitute 6 lb (2.72 kg) pale malt extract syrup for Maris Otter pale malt. Steep remaining ingredients in 158°F (70°C) water for 30 minutes. Steep remaining ingredients at 158°F (70°C) water for 30 minutes. Drain, rinse grains, dissolve extract completely and proceed with boil.

Cherry Chocolate Porter

Featured in July/August 2007 Zymurgy magazine.

  • Original Gravity: 1.075
  • ABV: 6.0-7.2%
  • Color: 38 SRM, deep reddish brown
  • Bitterness: 30

Ingredients for 5 gal (19 L):

  • 2.5 lb (1.1 kg) Pilsner malt (1.6°L)
  • 10.0 lb (4.5 kg) Munich malt (8°L)
  • 0.75 lb (340 g) Dark crystal malt (80°L)
  • 1.0 lb (454 g) Melanoidin malt (33°L)
  • 0.5 lb (227 g) Carafa® (röstmalz) malt (470°L)
  • 0.7 oz (18 g) Northern Brewer pellets, 8% a.a., 20 IBU (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz (13 g) Northern Brewer pellets, 8% a.a., 10 IBU (30 min)
  • 5.0-10.0 lb previously frozen sour cherries
  • 0.5-1.0 lb roasted cocoa nibs, crushed lightly
  • European ale yeast; Belgian or lager a possibility, too


Mash 1 hour at 152°F (67°C). Ferment the beer through the primary. Then to the secondary, add frozen sour cherries and cocoa nibs. Allow the beer to stay on the fruit and cocoa nibs for at least two weeks—a month or two is better. Rack to another secondary, allow to settle before bottling or kegging. Note: hop calculations are based on pellets. Figure on 25% more if using whole hops.

Mini-mash substitution: Substitute 5.5 lbs of amber dry extract for the Munich, and mash the rest of the ingredients for an hour at 150°F (66°C), add the drained, sparged wort to the extract.

Hot Pepper Blonde Ale

Featured in September/October 2005 Zymurgy magazine.

  • Original Gravity: 1.049
  • Final Gravity: 1.011
  • ABV: 4.99%

Ingredients for 5 gal (19 L):

  • 6.6 lb (2.99 kg) Coopers Light malt extract
  • 0.5 lb (227 g) 80°L caramel malt
  • 1.0 lb (0.45 kg) clear candi sugar malt
  • 8.0 oz (227 g) dried Santa Fe chiles, dry hop in primary 7 days
  • 3 fresh jalapeño chiles, chopped
  • 1.0 oz (28 g) Northern Brewer pellet hops, 8.5% a.a. (60 min)
  • 1.5 oz (42 g) Cascade whole hops, 5.5% a.a. (0 min)
  • 0.5 oz (14 g) Cascade hops, 7% a.a. (0 min)
  • Doric ale yeast
  • 4.2 oz corn sugar to prime Irish moss to clarify


Steep grains in 150°F (66°C) brewing water for 30 minutes. On bottling day, boil chopped jalapeños in 2 cups water, strain off peppers and add to fermented beer with priming sugar prior to bottling. Primary fermentation for 7 days at 68°F (20°C) in glass. Secondary fermentation for 7 days at 64°F (18°C) in glass.

Stout with Vanilla, Chocolate & Coffee

Featured in September/October 2006 Zymurgy magazine.

  • Original Gravity: 1.078
  • Final Gravity: 1.024
  • ABV: 7.09%

Ingredients for 5 gal (19 L):

  • 11.0 lb (4.99 kg) Briess pale malt
  • 1.0 lb (0.45 kg) Briess 10°L Munich malt
  • 1.0 lb (0.45 kg) Briess 20°L Munich malt
  • 12.0 oz (340 g) Briess aromatic malt
  • 7.0 oz (198 g) Weyermann Carafa III
  • 7.0 oz (198 g) Briess chocolate malt
  • 4.0 oz (113 g) Belgian chocolate (in boil, 60 min)
  • 12.0 oz (340 g) lactose (in boil, 60 min)
  • 20.0 oz cold-brewed Costa Rica Tarazzu coffee (add to keg)
  • 2 vanilla beans (add to secondary)
  • 0.75 oz (21 g) Tettnang pellet hops, 4.7% a.a. (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz (14 g) Cascade pellet hops, 6.7% a.a. (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz (14 g) Tettnang pellet hops, 4.7% a.a. (40 min)
  • 0.75 oz (21 g) Tettnang pellet hops, 4.7% a.a. (30 min)
  • 0.25 oz (7 g) Liberty pellet hops, 3.6% a.a. (0 min)
  • Wyeast No. 1007 German ale yeast
  • 0.5 g White Labs Servomyces yeast nutrient


Mash grains at 154°F (68°C) for 75 minutes. Primary fermentation for 8 days at 68°F (20°C) in glass. Secondary fermetnation for 14 days at 68°F (20°C) in glass. Forced CO2 to carbonate (2.4 vol.).

Peach Lambic

Featured in September/October 2013 Zymurgy magazine.

  • Original Gravity: 1.050
  • Final Gravity: 1.001
  • Bitterness: IBUs
  • ABV: 6.4%

Ingredients for 5 gal (18.93 L):

  • 7.0 lb (3.18 kg) Pilsner malt
  • 1.0 lb (0.45 kg) acidulated malt
  • 1.0 lb (0.45 kg) flaked maize
  • 1.0 lb (0.45 kg) spelt
  • 15.0 lb (6.8 kg) Farmer’s Market peaches
  • Wyeast B. Lambicus, 1 pack

Mash at 148°F (64°C) for 45 minutes. Make a 10-day starter of B. Lambicus. “Various dregs from homebrewed and commercial sour beers were added during fermentation. Peaches were purchased organic and fresh, skinned, pitted, cut into small chunks, frozen then thawed before adding to fermentation.”