Posted on

What Is A Gruit Beer? A History and Recipes.

Gruit beer

IMG_20130609_174700Evidence of brewing beer dates back to the 5th millennium BC.  Believe it or not, prior to the 16th century, hops were rarely used in the brewing process.  Bittering and flavoring consisted of herbs and botanical creations.  From the Egyptians to the Knights of the Round Table, gruit beer is recorded in their history.   

When the Reinheitsgebot purity law was established in Bavaria, it became illegal to brew beer with anything other than water, malt, and hops.  If a brewer was caught violating the purity law, his/her beer would be confiscated without compensation.  Gruit beer eventually phased out and hops became the weapon of choice. 

There are a few breweries creating traditional gruit style ales today such as Dogfish Head, New Belgium, Mt. Pleasant, and Midnight Sun to name a few.  These recreations must be appreciated with an open palate and mind.  Go to your local bottle shop and check out their supply for a gruit beer.

 

What kind of herbs, spices, botanicals are traditionally used in a Gruit Beer?

Traditional Herbs:

Sweet Gale (Bog Myrtle)
Yarrow

Wild Rosemary

Other Common Herbs/Additions:

Juniper

Mugwort

Wormwood

Labrador Tea

Heather

Bog Heather
Licorice
Sage

Black Henbane

Ginger
Caraway Seed
Aniseed
Nutmeg
Cinnamon

Brewing gruit ale has unlimited possibilities and each batch can be a blank slate.  The ability to create beer that tingles your lips is also likely.  Here are some gruit ale recipes for those adventurous enough.  These were discovered after trolling through forums/websites.  I cannot guarantee the quality or end result.  Try them or create your own in true Gruit Style.

 RECIPES

Double Gruit
A sweet and earthy beer
Print
Ingredients
  1. 5lbs - US 2-Row
  2. 2lbs - Crystal 60
  3. 1lb - Cara Red
  4. 1lb - Wildflower Honey (add at 30 minutes)
Add to boil
  1. .5oz - Mugwort @ 45 minutes
  2. 1oz - Heather Tips @ 45 minutes
  3. .5oz - Mugwort @ 15 minutes
  4. 1oz - Heather Tips @ 15 minutes
  5. 2 grams - @ 0 minutes
Secondary
  1. 2oz - Labrador Tea
  2. 2oz - Yarrow
  3. Yeast: WY1968
Instructions
  1. Single infusion @ 152 degrees for 60 minutes
Beer Mumbo http://beermumbo.com/
Gruit Ale #1
I rich yet slightly sweet ale with a subtle bitterness
Print
Ingredients
  1. 14 lbs - US 2-Row
  2. 9 oz - Crystal 120
  3. 8 oz - Crystal 40
  4. 6 oz - Munich Malt
  5. 6 oz - Oatmeal Flakes
  6. 5 oz - Roasted Barley
  7. 1 oz - Mugwort @ 60 minutes
  8. 1 oz - Heather Tips @ 60 minutes
  9. .5 oz - Mugwort @ 15 minutes
  10. 1 gram - Heather Tips @ 0 minutes
  11. Yeast - WY1968
Instructions
  1. Do an infusion mash at 151 degrees.
  2. Primary fermentation - 21 days
  3. Secondary fermentation - 14 days
Beer Mumbo http://beermumbo.com/
Gaelic Dreams
No description
Print
Ingredients
  1. 8lbs - US 2-Row
  2. 1lb - Crystal 40
  3. .5lb - Crystal 60
  4. .125lb - Roasted Barley
Add to boil
  1. .75oz - Mugwort @ 60 minutes
  2. .25oz - Mugwort @ 20 minutes
  3. .25oz - Mugwort @ 0 minutes
  4. Yeast: American Ale
Instructions
  1. Single infusion @ 154 for 60 minutes
Beer Mumbo http://beermumbo.com/
Pog Mo Thoin Gruit Ale III
medium dark amber/yellow and had an herb-like flavor that mellowed with time
Print
Ingredients
  1. 12lbs - US 2-Row
  2. 2lbs - Crystal 40
  3. 2lbs - Melanoidin Malt
Add to mash
  1. 55 grams - Yarrow
  2. 55 grams - Marsh Rosemary
  3. 2 grams - Myrica Gale
Add to boil
  1. 30 grams - Yarrow @ 60 minutes
  2. 30 grams Marsh Rosemary @ 60 minutes
  3. 2 grams Myrica Gale @ 60 minutes
  4. Yeast: American Ale
Instructions
  1. Single infusion @ 149 for 90 minutes
Beer Mumbo http://beermumbo.com/
Yarrow Ale
Print
Ingredients
  1. 3lbs - Light DME
  2. 3oz - Fresh Yarrow flowers and leaves @ 60 minutes
  3. .8 grams - Sweet Gale @ 60 minutes
  4. 2oz - Fresh Yarrow flowers and leaves @ 5 minutes
  5. Yeast: American Ale
Instructions
  1. No mash
  2. bottle when fermentation is complete
Beer Mumbo http://beermumbo.com/