Woodruff. Also known in English as “sweet woodruff” and in German as “Waldmeister,” woodruff is an herbaceous perennial best known in beer-making as one of the commonly used sweetened flavorings for Berliner weiss (the other being raspberry). Though the brilliant green imparted by the “schuss” in the glass is mainly owing to the enhancement of dye, woodruff syrup adds both a mitigating sweetness and an herbal note to the sour wheat beer. It is important to note that the flavoring is added at serving; to do so earlier would be in violation of Germany’s Beer Purity Law, Reinheitsgebot. See reinheitsgebot.

American craft breweries have sometimes produced beer with woodruff; in these, dried leaves are added either to the boil or to cold, conditioning beer. San Andreas Brewing of Hollister, California, has brewed its Woodruff Ale since the early 1990s and Elysian Brewing of Seattle, Washington, produces a woodruff-accented version of its Ambrosia Spring Bock. Woodruff has also traditionally been used in Germany and Austria as a flavoring and garnish for the young May wine.

Woodruff is low-growing, its leaves in lanceolate whorls of from six to nine, with small white flowers. It is often planted as a decorative ground cover. The green leaves are fragrant, imparting notes akin to nutmeg or cinnamon. Its aroma and flavor contribution intensify upon drying of the leaves.