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

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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

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)
Wild Rosemary

Other Common Herbs/Additions:
Labrador Tea  
Bog Heather
Black Henbane  
Caraway Seed

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

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

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