Known Gnome is a throwback to when old timey porter brewers tried to avoid paying hop taxes by (illegally) using quassia as a hop substitute.Quassia is a genus of South American trees that can grow over 100 feet in height. The genus was named after a Surinam slave Graman Quasi in the eighteenth century, who discovered the bittering and medicinal properties of the bark. Quassia gained relevance in the production of porter in London in the early 1800s. Some less than honest porter brewers used quassia and other “adulterants” to avoid paying the hop tax. It was reputed that one pound of quassia bark was equivalent to sixteen pounds of hops. A political cartoon was published in 1806 depicting the porter brewers of London hailing Quasi.
Known Gnome also gets its unusual sweetness from licorice root and the naturally contained chemical glycyrrhizic acid which is 50 times sweeter tasting than sucrose. Today, less than honest cigarette manufactures use licorice as a flavoring agent for tobacco which lends a natural sweetness and a distinctive flavor and makes it easier to inhale the smoke by creating bronchodilators, which open up the lungs. Licorice flavors are also used as candies or sweeteners, particularly in some European and Middle Eastern countries.