When I heard about gruit, a historical hopless ale, I knew I wanted to try it. And then, the more I learned about it, the cooler it became. Gruit waned in use as the popularity of hops grew throughout the Middle Ages, but has enjoyed somewhat of a revival as a result of the craft brewing movement.
I struggled a bit with the recipe for this ale. There are no primary sources that I can find that list the ingredients for a gruit ale, but numerous secondary sources list yarrow, sweet gale, mugwort, St. John’s wort, and marsh rosemary as the basics. I tracked down this selection of herbs, and set to work. I used honey because it’s what would be most prevalent (not sugar) in the The resulting ale is sour, fizzy, and really different from your average hopped beer. The herbal flavors are there, and reasonably pleasant, along with residual sweetness from the honey. It’s a pale, slightly murky yellow color with just a hint of green.
It’s got to be Greywater Watch, right? I mean, it includes marsh rosemary and bog myrtle; if there’s anywhere in Westeros that qualifies as a bog, it’s The Neck. Even without the sparkle, it seems a great drink for the muggy heat of summer, especially if you are combating mosquitos in a swamp…
Brewer’s Note: I couldn’t find a good source for an historical recipe for gruit. If any of you know of one, I’d love to take a look at it! This recipe is cobbled together from a variety of sources, plus what I thought tasted good. 😉
Ingredients for 1 gallon:
- 1 Tbs. dried yarrow
- 1 heaping Tbs. dried St. John’s Wort
- 1 Tbs. dried mugwort
- 1 Tbs. Sweet Gale (bog myrtle)
- 1 heaping Tbs. Marsh Rosemary (hard to find, thus optional)
- mesh bag
- 1 gallon water
- 1 Tbs. Irish Moss to clarify (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups honey
- 1 packet ale yeast
- [1/4 cup honey for priming]
- 1/4 cup boiling water
Place herbs in a small mesh bag, add to 1/2 gallon of water in a pan, and simmer for 30 minutes. The color should be a dark brown. If using Irish Moss, add it 10 minutes before the end of the boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool until it’s warm but not hot. Pour the honey into your glass carboy, then strain the liquid over it, swirling vigorously to mix until the honey is dissolved. Top off with water as needed. Allow to cool to room temperature, then pitch yeast.
When the wort is done fermenting (mine took 2 weeks), you can prime it with honey, if you want it carbonated. To do this, combine the priming honey with 1/4 cup boiling water. Stir until the honey has dissolved, and allow to cool. Pour this into the carboy, stir up, and let the dregs settle back to the bottom. Rack into bottles and cap. Allow to sit for at least 1 month before trying.