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Gruit Ale

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I'll be brewing my first gruit ale experiment this week.  I am looking for any useful info and especially advice from people who have tried this before.  My current plan is to try introducing alcohol extracts I made with 100prook vodka of sweet gale, marsh rosemary, yarrow, heather... into a small beer ill be producing from the sparge runnings of a belgian strong ale mash.  The reasons for this first experiment are as follows: I don't want to ruin a great brew by overdoing it with an herb I haven't brewed with before; I believe the weak malt profile of the small beer will not overwhelm the character of the various herbs when combined; I do not know the relative volatility of each herb and do not want to waste any, so a relatively efficient alcohol extraction seems like a good idea, and can be measured out in several different specific quantities to be mixed with the beer in the bottles.

So, thoughts, advice?  Tried this and hate it?  What works well, stick to light malts, or get dark and full-bodied?  Try a little hops, or forsake them altogether?  I'll be working on this for a while, trying to hammer out an effective and well-balanced recipe, and consulting a few books, forums, etc., but I'll post the final recipe when completed.  Thanks, and cheers!

I've made a batch of gruit from this recipe I went as far as making an effort to pick wild yarrow. I found the brew to be good if you like sour beers. I'm not sure which of the herbs made the brew sour, but a friend of mine also made the same batch at his home with a few herbs added / swapped out ( wormwood ) - both of us used similar amounts of yarrow like in the recipe and his was very similar in taste. When fresh its sort of an herbaly almost Juicy Fruit gum like flavor / aroma - but sour. As it aged, 2+ years on the shelf both batches had a similar aged flavor like a lambic. If you like sour lambics / flanders ect. give it a shot! I have no experience with making / using an extract, they probably will have a different flavor than the batches I have experienced. For those who also want to try this you may not be able to find wild rosemary in your standard spice house, I used the best rosemary I could find instead. I recommend visiting a good spice shop - and try a co-op or other health food store for the yarrow if you can't get it wild. I'd be interested to hear what your results are yaleterrace!

I've never made a guit, but it I've played around with the idea quite a bit.

I can say that you need to go light on the rosemary.  I made sausages once, par-boiling them in beer before slapping them on the grill.  I figured I'd use the beer to make a sauce and started adding some seasonings and herbs to it.  I threw in some rosemary and started reducing to get a thick sauce.  It turned out so bitter and astringent I had to throw it out!  Go light and late in the boil, unless you want it to taste like turpentine.

The history of Gruit Ale is very interesting. I am also interested in trying a basic recipe. One that's tried and true. Maybe something like this.

Possibly a one gallon batch for starters and scale up from there if it's viable.

I made a gruit last year - made 7 gal of Altbier wort and pulled 2 off for the gruit.
Picked some fresh yarrow from the backyard and boiled it for about 15 minutes.   I think I picked about 2 oz of yarrow, but decided to only use 1 oz.  Good thing - it was pretty strong and the full 2 oz would have been nasty!.
So I suppose that my advice is...  err on the light side for your herb additions.  Rather have it be subtle and balanced vs in your face!

Good luck


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