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Archive for the ‘The Beer Diviner’ tag

Hops, Who Needs ’em? A History of Gruit Ales.

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First published on Edible East End

The Mash Recirculating with Frank Filachione and Zippy

The Mash Recirculating with Frank Filachione and Zippy

“Gruit? Did you mean to write fruit?” was one of the edits we received after writing about a Taste of Long Island for the fall issue and the herbal gruits the Brewers Collective plans to make there. Similarly, when we brewed a gruit for the Spring Craft Beer Festival at Nassau Coliseum about half the patrons ordered the “herbal fruit”, which admittedly does have a nice ring to it. So all this confusion raises the question: What the heck is a gruit?

Today beer and ale are often used as synonyms, but there is a distinct difference between the two. Ales do not contain any hops, a key ingredient in beer for bittering and preservation. Hops are the female flowers of Humulus lupulus and were introduced to ale around 1079 in Germany although they did not truly catch on until the 13th century. Prior to hops becoming an integral ingredient in beer, ale was flavored with what is known as gruit. Gruit is a mix of herbs, flowers, seeds or other flavoring components used to balance out the malty flavor of an ale. Heather is the most traditional ingredient, but brewers can get creative and use any mixture they desire. keep reading...