Saturday 13 March 2010

12. Hop-free gruit wheat with yarrow, turmeric, bay and lemon balm

In the days of old where knights were bold and brewers had very little idea about how to make safe good tasting ale, we used to use gruit. Gruit was a blend of botanicals which were added to make the ale taste less rank and slow its destruction by bacteria.
If you are interested there is a web site dedicated to the subject.

According to this web site my gruit isn’t really gruit because it only contains one of the three herbs reported to be traditionally used (Myrica gale, yarrow and marsh rosemary). I would argue that most ale brewers probably used whatever was good locally and weren’t too concerned about writing it all down in case someone publishing a web site about gruit in a few hundred years was interested .

My wort will have an OG of 1080 mashed from 50/50 malted barley and wheat. I’m then going to boil the wort for 2 hours to make sure it’s completely dead before adding the non-gruit gruit at the end of the boil.

I’m fermenting this with a trappist yeast warm with some top pressure.


ZakAvery said...

Why the top pressure, Stuart? And will the OG be driven up much by the long boil?

Barry M said...

I've heard that in some parts of Europe, gruit was like a secret mix, the sale of which was controlled by the bishops, or such. I'm fascinated by the idea, but haven't had the cajones to go make one myself. You've inspired me though :)

Stuart Howe said...

Zak hi,

The OG started at 1070 and turned out 1081 after the boil. This was more by luck than judgement although my all-round brilliance no doubt played some part.

The top pressure is to ensure nothing dirty wanders into the FV while the beer is still prone, also I want to try to hold as much of the fermentation derived aroma to add to the the botanicals' contribution.

Stuart Howe said...

Glad to be of inspiration Barry! Good luck and please let me know how you get on.

Melissa Cole said...

Ahh, how nice that you include a little of me in your beer! :) My next brewing adventure will contain some lemon balm as well, just plotted the grain bill & ingredients yesterday and, in a pleasantly circular fashion, it's with one of your former colleagues! It's a small industry!

Anonymous said...

I've always been dubious about the idea that brewers used both sweet gale and marsh rosemary at the same time in gruit ales, as I say here when talking about a Belgian gale ale:

Watch that yarrow: contains thujone, just like wormwood, the stuff that made old-style absinthe so powerful!

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