The hibiscus flower comes from the roselle plant, the edible part being the calyx (the flowering part that holds the petals and protects the bud). The plant originally came from West Africa.
The hibiscus is commonly used to flavour tea and spirits, as well as in cocktails for garnish and flavour. It can give vibrant colours to your drinks. The flavour is tart and floral with fruity sour notes, with a mild modest fragrance. Hibiscus can be slightly sour, but can also become bitter when it is over-steeped.
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Common Name: Hibiscus/Rosella
Botanical Name: Hibiscus sabdariffa
Country of Origin: Egypt
Batch Analysis: Lot No. P 384838 Best Before: 13-Apr-2025
Use of Hibiscus in US Craft Beer Brewing:
At Night Shift Brewing in Everett, Massachusetts, Brewer Vincent J. Tursi III has used hibiscus both late in the boil (in the last five minutes or less) and as a dry hop additive during secondary fermentation (for twenty-four to thirty-six hours immediately before packaging).
The flavor derived from hibiscus in beer is berry-like, fruity, and of course, very floral.
"With boil additions [of hibiscus] we’ve noticed a subtle berry/fruit flavor and bitterness. We’ve also noticed a darker, more vibrant pink/red color [in the beer]. With dry-hop additions, we’ve noticed a softer flavor and color addition, with no bitterness and a bigger hibiscus scent on the nose,” says Tursi. “I'd say the harsh temperature of the boil drives off more nuanced oils present in the hibiscus petals, whereas the cold conditioning in the tanks and extended contact time allows for those subtle nuances to come through more pleasantly.”
The Night Shift Brewing Ever Weisse is a Berliner Weisse-style sour ale aged on strawberries, kiwis, and dried hibiscus flowers. It’s sold exclusively at the brewery’s new location in Everett.
Another brewery experimenting with hibiscus is Grassroots Brewing, a label brewed at Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro, Vermont. “We have attempted both post-fermentation and pre-fermentation techniques [with hibiscus],” says Brewmaster Shaun E. Hill, “which include adding the flowers into the whirlpool or using our lauter tun as a flower steeping device.” His Convivial Suarez saison is brewed with hibiscus and lemon.
Sam Adams White Ale has traces of hibiscus in it, in addition to orange and lemon peel, dried plum, Grains of Paradise, coriander, anise, rose hips, tamarind, and vanilla.
(Reference: Brewing Craft Beer with Hibiscus)