What is Gruit?

First, if I see a single comment with the statement, “I am Groot,” I’ll… I’ll… wave my fist in anger. Any sketches of a tree-like alien being will equally be… waved at.

Yesterday, I wrote a little about what beer is. Now, I’ll say something about what came before hops: gruit. Gruit, or gruut, is a term used in reference to un-hopped beers. 

The term may refer to the drink itself, gruit ale in contrast to beer, or it may refer to the herbs used for bittering in the absence of hops.

So what might you use instead of hops, to both bitter and preserve a fermented malt beverage?

Heather was a common choice, exemplified by the Scotch heather ale.

CallunaVulgaris.jpg
CallunaVulgaris” by Aqwis (Aqwis) – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Bog myrtle is another common option. There have been some suggestions that it might be carcinogenic, but nothing conclusive.

Myrica-gale-hunlig.JPG
Myrica-gale-hunlig“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Meadowsweet

Filipendula ulmaria - angervaks.jpg
Filipendula ulmaria – angervaks” by Ivar LeidusOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Rosemary

Rosemary bush.jpg
Rosemary bush” by Taken by fir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.au Canon 20D + Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 – Own work. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons.

Yarrow

Achillea millefolium vallee-de-grace-amiens 80 22062007 1.jpg
Achillea millefolium vallee-de-grace-amiens 80 22062007 1” by O. PichardOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

There are other herbs that can be used for bittering as well.

So, then, why have I presented these five?

I have it in my head to brew some gruits, and these are the bittering herbs I’m starting with.

Furthermore, it’s my plan to grow these herbs (and hops as well) starting this summer and into the future.

Seeds are available online, but not from the typical 'big' seed stores.
Seeds are available online, but not from the typical ‘big’ seed stores.

I bought some seeds and will be starting them next month for a summer harvest. You can expect some posts about the joys of growing things. I hope they do grow.

In the meantime, it is possible to find some of these herbs dried and ready to use for brewing, so look for some gruit-brewing posts in the future.

Published by paleololigo

Scientist (Paleontology, Geochemistry, Geology); Writer (Speculative and Science Fiction, plus technical and non-technical Science); Mom to great boy on the Autism spectrum; possessor of too many hobbies.

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