Huzzah, part 2.

For several months I’ve been wanting to do a gruit beer, substituting herbs for hops and making a truly old school beer. I’m heading to the brewstore tomorrow to pick up grains, having already bought the herbs at the local shop Nature’s Magic. (Total cost on the herbs is a little under $6, which compares nicely to the cost of hops these days.) My basic idea is something like this(update: final recipe):

  • 3 pounds light or extra light dme
  • 1 pound wheat extract
  • 1 pound honey
  • 8 oz wheat malt
  • 8 oz 2-row malt
  • 8 oz 10L crystal malt
  • 2 oz honey malt
  • 2 oz Yarrow
  • 2 oz Mugwort
  • .5 oz Licorice root

My reasoning is as follows: Many grains were used in ancient brewing, so I’m adding wheat to approximate the mix. Likewise, honey was added to all sorts of fermented goods to be sure they reached the proper strength (this batch should be just shy of 5%). The herbs should be a nice earthy blend, slightly spicy, with bitterness coming from the mugwort – mugwort, or Artemesia vulgaris, is a relative of Wormwood. Both yarrow and mugwort are traditional ingredients in gruit. Note the absence of hops of any kind. Since in ye olden days this would have been casked, I’ll oak it in secondary to recreate that aspect of brewing. All told, it should be a fun, cheap, somewhat historical partial mash. I’ll post the final recipe when it’s final.

Also, should you want to learn more about brewing gruit ales, check out the aptly named gruitale.com, and for a broader look at herbs and spices and a whole lot of other cool stuff, pick up a copy of Radical Brewing. It’s worth it, and it’s 5 stars on Amazon for a reason.