Welcome to our ongoing Beer Style Musings series. Every beer style has its own history, profile, and great list of food to pair it with. We are here to share our knowledge to give you a little extra insight when it comes to choosing your beer for the day. Today, we will discuss the gruit ale…
The Gruit Ale
History: Did you know the earliest forms of beer did not include hops? Ancient ales were spiced and bittered with everything from sweet gale, mugwort, yarrow, ground ivy, horehound, juniper berries and heather. This mixture was known as Gruit (German for “herb”). Just as brewers today use different varieties of hops for different levels of bittering and flavor, ancient brewers used many of the ingredients as listed above to do the same in their recipes.
It was a slow and gradual switch from gruit to hops between the 11th and 16th centuries. Brewing with gruit eventually faded into obscurity. But luckily craft brewers have rediscovered this ancient form of brewing, resulting in a gruit ale renaissance. Recent years have seen a revival of interest in gruit, especially as the craft beer marketplace becomes more and more crowded and demand for unique beer styles increases. International Gruit Day is celebrated on February 1 each year by a coalition of craft brewers with the intention of raising awareness of and paying homage to the historical traditions of brewing with botanicals.
Profile: These beers are most notable for the bold herb and spice flavors they possess. There is no one recipe for gruit, nor is there a universal standard for what can or cannot be included in a gruit mixture. So the flavor is largely determined by the gruit used.
Food Pairings: Crab, mussels, lobster, lighter fish, cured meats, sausages, salads, poultry, pizza, spicy cuisines.
Average alcohol by volume (abv) range: Most gruit ales have a relatively modest alcohol content in the 4% – 8% range.
Let us know about your favorite gruit ale. We are always open to trying new beers!