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   Feb 03

Originally just an herb, marshmallow candy makes its way into a variety of beer styles

Althaea officinalis is a plant that prefers growing in marshy areas; its often-whitish, five-petaled flower erupts with a vivid purple cluster of pistil and stamen.

In herbal medicine, Althaea officinalis, or marsh mallow, can be an effective treatment for soothing irritated respiratory functions and digestive tracts during illnesses ranging from the common cold to stomach virus.

There’s a sweet, slick, mucilaginous quality that marshmallow root shares with those who harness its power; in fact, Althaea’s root likely comes from the Greek word althos, which means “healing.”

What’s more pleasurable than a soothing herb that comforts coughs and sore tummies? An herb that can also be made into a candy.

While we think of marshmallows today as a white, puffy confection bought in a bag and prepared over a fire until it achieves a charred outside and hot, creamy middle, the roots of the treat date back around 2,000 years to ancient Egypt.

Back then, the mallow root sap was mixed with honey and probably quite dissimilar to what we recognize today as an essential s’mores ingredient.

Fast forward to 19th century France, and you’ll find a recipe that approximates what we think of today as a marshmallow.

“The Book of Useful Knowledge: A Cyclopaedia of Six Thousand Practical Receipts and Collateral Information,” published in 1851, details a recipe for Pate de Guimauve, or marshmallow paste. In the recipe, “decorticated marshmallow root” (the tough outer membrane gets removed) is combined with sugar, gum arabic, honey and egg whites to create a confectionary delight known in France, simply, as guimauve.

This labor-intensive method of making marshmallows further simplified with the advent of automated machinery. Over time, the inclusion of actual marshmallow root disappeared entirely and today, what you’ll find in a bag of Kraft Jet-Puffed marshmallows, for example, contains ingredients like corn syrup, sugar, dextrose, modified cornstarch, gelatin, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, natural and artificial flavors and food coloring.

Certainly a jump from the ancient sweet treat and definitely with a longer shelf life.

Over time, the inclusion of actual marsh mallow root disappeared entirely.

It’s not uncommon, however, to find marsh mallow used as an adjunct in beers.


Omnipollo’s Shploing!! is the first canned offering from the brewery, and it calls it a mango s’more India pale ale brewed with a variety of adjuncts, including marshmallow fluff.

This 7 percent alcohol by volume beer poured like hazy lemonade from the can with a mango-orange creamsicle glow in the light and was topped with barely any head.

Exceedingly aromatic, Shploing!! smacked of sweet mango, vanilla, canned Mandarin oranges, brown butter and crackers.

The flavor carried with it all that sweet mango and added some passionfruit notes, but it was cut cleanly with an enjoyable pithy bitterness that made it drinkable and not just a syrupy experience. All the sweetness at the beginning was quickly invaded with bitterness mid-sip while a lush softness throughout reminded me of a mouthful of fluff. The zenith between sweet and acidic was achieved, that delicate moment of joy in a perfectly ripe pineapple.

Shploing!! may seem shtick with its wide array of ingredients, but this whimsical IPA was fun and super mouth-pleasing. I wouldn’t want more than one in a session, but I’ll have this over and over in the future.

Dino S’mores

Off Color Brewing Co. collaborated with Denmar’s Amagher Bryghus and Chicago’s West Lakeview Liquors to brew its Dino S’mores, a Russian imperial stout brewed with marsh mallows and entirely different than Shploing!!

Dino S’mores poured its 10.5 percent alcohol-by-volume body into my glass with a deep brown, nearly black color and a thin ring of tan head around the glass.

The aroma was full of roast, milk chocolate, vanilla ice cream and marshmallow sweetness.

Its flavor had bittersweet chocolate, thick molasses and prunes. It was smooth and with a touch of chalkiness; the roasty bitterness balanced sweet, making it an easy-drinking big beer and everything you’d expect from a s’more.

Contact Amber DeGrace with comments and questions at adegrace@lnpnews.com and find her on Twitter at @amberdegrace.

Source: Lancaster Online

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