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

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