BeerMumbo: What is a gruit ale? Take a trip to the past for an original craft beer

I am sure you are wondering what a “Gruit Ale” is.

There is evidence of beer brewing dates back to the 5th millennium BC and believe it or not, prior to the 16th Century, hops were rarely used in brewing beer.

Bittering and flavoring consisted of herbs and botanical creations.  This was gruit ale and it’s what every drinker had in their beer mug. From the Egyptians to the Knights of the Round Table, gruit was the only option.   

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 precious beer would be confiscated without compensation. What a shame! Gruit ale eventually phased out and hops were the weapon of choice.

The gruit style was pretty much lost to history until the 1990s when microbreweries started branching out with their concoctions and recreated some of these old recipes. Basically what I am saying is, gruit stands as the backbone of the craft beer phenomenon we are currently experiencing.

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 to the style and historical value.  Go to your local bottle shop and check out their supply for a gruit ale.

What kind of herbs, spices, botanicals are traditionally used in a gruit ale?

Traditional Herbs:
S weet 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. 

For a list of gruit recipes you can get started on, click here courtesy of BeerMumbo.


Comments

or Subscribe now so you can share your opinion! It’s only a penny for a month trial.

Latest Forecast
More #9beer Stories
The best local summer beers to beat the heat
The best local summer beers to beat the heat

If the hot summer heat has you reaching for a cold one, give these local seasonal beers a try.

Ky. brewery adding new Louisville location
Ky. brewery adding new Louisville location

A Kentucky brewery plans to boost production by more than 400 percent with a new facility in Louisville.

Hit the road for a trip to Rockmill Brewery
Hit the road for a trip to Rockmill Brewery

Summer time is a perfect time to hit the road for a quick road trip to the country and perhaps to some of the great breweries that Ohio has…

Christian Moerlein brews new beer for LumenoCity
Christian Moerlein brews new beer for LumenoCity

When thousands of music fans head to Over-the-Rhine’s Washington Park for the LumenoCity performance, they’ll be able to beat the…

Cincy's Brew Ha-Ha to expand to three nights
Cincy's Brew Ha-Ha to expand to three nights

After seven years and continually increasing attendance, Cincinnati’s Brew Ha-Ha event is set to expand itself.

Stores appeal ruling on Ind. cold beer law
Stores appeal ruling on Ind. cold beer law

A convenience store association isn't giving up its court fight against Indiana's law that prohibits those businesses from selling…

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp series rolls into Cincy
Sierra Nevada Beer Camp series rolls into Cincy

If summertime is making you nostalgic for camp and you love craft beer, Sierra Nevada has an event just for you.

SweetWater Brewing set to expand into Ohio
SweetWater Brewing set to expand into Ohio

A well-known brewer is moving into Ohio and it’s taking some of the competition back home with it.

Rhinegeist adds giant can 'crowler' to lineup
Rhinegeist adds giant can 'crowler' to lineup

Do you ever find yourself wishing that growler from your local brewery lasted a little longer? Rhinegeist may have the answer.

Plans for new West Side brewery come to light
Plans for new West Side brewery come to light

A new brewery will soon be rising up on Cincinnati’s West Side.