Thai Basil Rye IPA w/o Basil Extract

This is our second attempt at a India Pale Ale complimented by the notes of basil. Our first go on this recipe – although slightly different – left us with some basil notes that quickly faded over time. So, to create a basil IPA with some basil flavor to stick around just a little bit longer, we’re trying something new: adding basil extract to the beer at bottling.

The Malt

The malt used in this recipe is exactly the same – as it everything else. The only thing different is the add-ins. As for the malt, the addition of rye malt should impart both a red color and a spicy finish to the beer. Rye malt looks a lot like oats – a flat circular-shaped grain. Roughly 18% of the malt used in this brew was rye.

The Add-Ins

We used one whole ounce of fresh Thai basil – sourced from the local Asian market. Another option would be to use basil picked straight out of your garden – or even to use basil in a larger quantity. The basil leaves were put in at the end of the boil. The leaves were exclusively used. For contamination issues, the leaves were soaked in a solution of sanitzer and water before going into the brew kettle. At bottling, we added one ounce of basil extract to the fermentation vessel (alongside the priming sugar). The strategy here is to add the basil flavor at the last possible minute. Hopefully, this will give the extract less time to fade – as the time to enjoy the beer is only two weeks away.

The Wort

The decision to add the basil extract at bottling came from two reasons. Firstly, as explained above, a previous version of this recipe yielded little basil flavor. Moreover, the wort also did not really taste like basil – just IPA wort: sweet from the malt and bitter from the hops.

Gravity & ABV

The target original gravity was higher than what we originally achieved because there was simply too much water in the brew kettle. Shooting for 1.062, I generated a 1.050 – for the simple reason that I left the lid on the pot. The result is less evaporation and therefore more units of water per units of sugar from the malt.


Fermentation went smoothly. The final gravity of the brew was marginally less than the target final gravity. This is likely because there was less starch (fermentable and non-fermentable) from the get go. Because we started with a lower-than-planned original gravity, we ended with an alcohol content below calculations: just 4%.

The Verdict

Unfortunately, as water and oil don’t mix, as do beer and basil oil extract not mix. Instead of mixing with the brew, the basil oil extract (added before bottling), simply floated atop the beer in the staging vessel for bottling. (I simply used another carboy for this. Think of this as a last-minute racking.)

Basil oil floating on top of the beer - not mixing in with the beer.
Basil oil floating on top of the beer – not mixing in with the beer.

So, how did the beer taste without basil extract? Still pretty good. It was hoppy but the basil notes were obviously still there. The basil was perhaps even clouding up the beverage to a degree. Everything else – the body, hops, etc. – was pretty good. Fortunately, the opinion was not just my own. I was able to sample the beer at our Superbowl Party – with all in attendance appreciating the beverage. (Or perhaps they were just being nice. Maybe next time I’ll serve them the mole IPA to see if they’re being honest!)

Basil IPA #3?

Would I like more basil? Yep. I’ll take a wee bit more. For a future recipe, I’ll be doubling the amount of basil used. I also tweaked the recipe to account for updated efficiency calculations and target volumes for the fermenter. This should get me closer to the target original gravity – which was considerably off on this brew because too much water was used.

The Recipe