JBU > Intermediate

Beer Styles 201: Gruit Beer (Ancient Herbed/Spiced Ale)

Gruit like fruit can be added to ales to change their flavour profiles. Learn more about this ancient beer style.

Beer Styles 201: Gruit Beer (Ancient Herbed/Spiced Ale)

What is Gruit?

Before hops, herbs, spices and flora were used to give beer flavour. These were called Gruit. Gruit is the German word for herbs. Before the Reinheitsgebot (the German Purity Laws) were created there were no beer standards. Brewers could put whatever they wanted in beers and they were.

Why Use Gruit?

Some brewers put gruit in with good intentions like to take advantage of the herbs medicinal properties while others not so good. For example, some of the herbs like henbane or stinging nettle were used to preserve the beer, but actually had poisonous and other dangerous qualities which the brewers ignored. The German Purity laws were enacted to prevent brewers from wantonly disregarding the effects of dangerous gruits. Gruits when used correctly were able to give the beer flavour and enabled the brewer to use some creativity.

Gruits Today

Gruit beers are making a comeback in the craft beer industry. The industry loves creativity as well as products that are local and seasonal and gruits are just that.

Try some gruit beers and see what you think:

Heather Ale, Salt Spring Island Ales

Saturnalia Dark Gruit Ancient Ale, Salt Spring Island Ales

Special Herbs, Upright Brewing Company

Plaid to the Bone, Picaroons Traditional Ales

We also liked the recommendations in Spike Carter’s article from Bloomberg Pursuits.

Learn About More Beer Styles at Just Beer University:

Beer Styles 201: Berliner Weisse

Beer Styles 201: Gose

Beer Styles 201: Lambic Beers

Beer Styles 201: Belgian/White IPA

Related Posts

JBU > Intermediate

Beer Styles: The Ingredients (Part Three: Water)

In this third part of this series on beer’s ingredients, we will look at water, the largest single component of beer. As much as 90-95% of a beer can be water, yet it is easily the most overlooked constituent.

JBU > Intermediate

Beer Varieties: The Origins (Part Four: Bitterness)

In this series, we are looking at what characterises the hundreds of styles of beers that are available. So far we have looked at how gravities and alcohol by volume (ABV.) are calculated, and how colour is measured and named. In this article, we will examine bitterness, the counterbalance to the sweetness from the malt, which is derived mostly from the hops.

JBU > Intermediate

VIDEO: How to Open a Beer Bottle with a Newspaper

JBU > Intermediate

Beer Varieties: The Origins (Part Three: Colour)

In this series, we are exploring what characterizes the hundreds of styles of beers that are available. While yeast is the most important determinant of beer style, two of the other main ingredients (hops and malt), and how the beer is brewed, among other things, also play a part. It is these factors that create the inherent qualities of the beer, which formulates each category or style. Part Two looked at how gravities and alcohol by volume (ABV.) are calculated. In Part Three we will explore colour; how it is measured, and how the different colours are assigned.

JBU > Intermediate

Beer Styles 201: Belgian / White IPA

A fruity, spicy, refreshing version of an American IPA, but with a lighter color, less body, and featuring either the distinctive yeast and/or spice additions typical of a Belgian witbier.