Third Unhopped Iron Brewer Challenge: Unhopped and Unplugged Brews

Saturday February 1, 2020, 5:00-7:00pm

Honors College, Room 196
3363 North Maryland Avenue
UW-Milwaukee Campus

Call for Submissions

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

On Saturday February 1, 2020 from 5:00-7:00pm in the Honors College (HON 196), 3363 North Maryland Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53211. The Fermentation Studies/Brew Garden initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will hold a tasting competition with three judges choosing the top three brews, all of whom are professionals associated with local businesses involved in brewing, dispensing, and/or reporting on fermented beverages.

The judges for 2020 are:

There will also be a People’s Choice award with non-contestants casting their votes via ballot for their favorite brew. Joe Yeado has generously agreed to offer the winner the opportunity to brew a commercial version of their beer using a new pilot brewing system at Gathering Place.

Any brews with archaeological/historical pedigrees are welcome (i.e. based on specific finds or documentary evidence for a particular Nordic grog, medieval gruit, or other beer) but feel free to experiment. We’ll also be asking all entrants to provide a grain bill as well as a few images presenting the story of your entry in the form of a short PowerPoint. Check out last year’s entries at

How to Enter

  1. Send an e-mail with the name(s) of the entrant(s) and the title of your proposed entry by January 15, 2020 to: Bettina Arnold ( or Josh Driscoll (
  2. Send the event announcement on to friends who are home brewers or brewers who are friends and encourage them to participate. Teams are OK, too!
  3. Get brewing! Some of these concoctions will need time to be ready by February 1. Questions
    about ingredients/procedures can be directed to or


Batch size should be at least 2 gallons; 5 gallons preferred (bottles, barrels, homebrew kegs).
A list of approved ingredients is provided below, but feel free to use any food-safe historically or
archaeologically attested ingredient:

  1. Any Old World or New World grain or equivalent (i.e. maize) (if you’re really adventurous,
    consider trying something like spelt, buckwheat, or millet).
  2. Any yeast strain (Feel free to be adventurous. Choices include traditional brewing strains,
    wine strains, bread strains, Norwegian kveik strains, or mixed cultures featuring any combination
    of brewing yeast, Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, and/or any other microorganism found in traditional fermentations).
  3. Any type of additional sugar (honey, fruit juice, bottling sugar or whatever you fancy – just
    keep track of your additives!).
  4. 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.

Suggested Plant List for Old World Brews (for New World inspiration see recent Field Museum
experiment with pepper berries; chocolate is also an option). Some of these plants are available
from the Hortus Academicus/Brew Garden on the Honors College grounds. If you are interested
in using anise hyssop, mugwort, meadowsweet, mint, thyme or bog myrtle in your brew, please
get in touch with Josh or Bettina asap (once the weather turns any plants not harvested will no
longer be usable).

Alecost/Costmary (Tanacetum balsamita)
Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa)
Betony (Stachys officinalis)
Bog cranberry (Oxycoccus palustris)
Bog myrtle (Myrica gale)
Carrot/wild carrot (Daucus sativus/carota)
Heather (Calluna vulgaris)
Horehound (Marrubium vulgare)
Juniper (Juniperus communis)
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)