First Iron Brewer/UWM Brew Garden Challenge: Unhopped and Unplugged Brews

Call for Submissions

Try your hand at producing a prehistoric or early historic fermented beverage from any time period or geographic area using archaeologically and historically attested plants as a substitute for hops!

On Friday December 8, 2017 from 6:00-8:00pm in SAB G90 the Brew Garden initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will hold a tasting competition with three judges, all professionals associated with local businesses involved in brewing or dispensing fermented beverages, choosing the top three brews. Confirmed judges: Kathy Flanigan, Beer Reporter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Eric Gutbrod, Cicerone, Draft & Vessel; Andy Jones, GoodCity Brewing. There will also be a People’s Choice award with non-contestants casting their votes via ballot for their favorite brew. Enlightened Brewing has agreed to offer the winner the opportunity to brew a commercial version of their beer using their equipment.

Any brews with serious archaeological/historical pedigrees are welcome (i.e. based on specific finds or documentary evidence for a particular Nordic grog or medieval gruit) but feel free to experiment.

How to Enter

  1. Send an e-mail with the name(s) of the entrant(s) and the title of your proposed entry by November 15, 2017 to:
  2. Send the event announcement on to friends who are home brewers or brewers who are friends and encourage them to participate
  3. Get brewing! Some of these concoctions will need time to be ready by early December. Questions about ingredients/procedures can be directed to or


Batch size should be 5 gallons (bottles or barrels OK)

A list of approved ingredients is provided below:

  • Any Old World or New World grain or equivalent (i.e. maize) (if really adventurous consider trying something like spelt, buckwheat or millet)
  • Any yeast strain
  • Any type of additional sugar (honey, fruit juice, bottling sugar or whatever you fancy – just keep track of your additives!)
  • Bittering/flavoring options (combinations are fine but less may be more with some of these plants). Plant ingredients can be added in dried or fresh form in a mesh bag directly to the wort during the boil, just before the end of the boil or as a prepared “tea” with the plant ingredients strained out before adding to the brew.

Plant List for Old World Brews

(for New World inspiration see recent Field Museum experiment with pepperberries; chocolate is also an option)

  • Alecost/Costmary (Tanacetum balsamita)
  • Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
  • Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
  • Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa)
  • Betony (Stachys officinalis)
  • Bog cranberry (Oxycoccus palustris)
  • Carrot/wild carrot (Daucus sativus/carota)
  • Heather (Calluna vulgaris)
  • Horehound (Marrubium vulgare)
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • Meadowsweet (Filipendula vulgaris)
  • Mint (Mentha spp.)
  • Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
  • Rue (Ruta graveolens)
  • St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
  • Sweet Gale or Bog Myrtle (Myrica gale)
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
  • Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
  • Yarrow (Achillaea millefolium)

See attached UW-Milwaukee Unhopped Iron Brewer Competition flyer.