Medieval bog myrtle beer revived by North Yorkshire micro-brewery

A MEDIEVAL beer made from the plant bog myrtle – harvested from wild moorland peatbogs - is helping raise awareness of the endangered habitat.

North Yorkshire micro-brewery Treboom Brewery is using the deciduous shrub in its latest beer. It uses wild leaves carefully picked for the beer by members of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, from the trust’s own North York Moors peatbog reserve.

Bog myrtle was once a common component in brewing, used to flavour beer in the Middle Ages right up until the 16th century, when hops fell into fashion. Now it is better known for its natural insect repellent properties.

John Lewis, who set up the brewery at Shipton-by-Beningbrough, near York, with his partner, said: “Hops only became popular in Europe about the 11th century and it spread to England in the 16th century.

“At one point hops were barred from being used at all in this country, they thought it was a pernicious European influence and they didn’t want it sullying our beers.”

He added: “This is a one-off specialist beer. We only have one lot of bog myrtle, which we were given back in September and hung up in our garage at home to dry.”

Mr Lewis set up the micro-brewery about a year ago, after working as a research scientist for Cancer Research at York University’s laboratories. He runs the business with his partner, Jane Blackman, a ceramicist from Newton Hall, County Durham.

Called, Myricale, for each pint of the wheat beer poured, 5p will be donated to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

The name was chosen following a naming competition held amongst Yorkshire Wildlife Trust supporters. Winner, Robert Marshall from Harrogate, based it on bog myrtle’s latin name Myrica gale.

It will be launched on Thursday, March 21, during a pub quiz in The Slip Inn, off Bishopthorpe Road in York.

Peatland bog is one of the world’s rarest habitats and is found both on the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.

Most were formed more than 10,000 years ago and act as substantial carbon storage. As well as being a habitat for many endangered species, they also as a catchment for rainfall that would otherwise flood lower areas.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust recently began using drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to fly over threatened peatbogs in the Yorkshire Dales to try and establish the extent and severity to which peatland is disappearing.

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