Wednesday, August 16, 2017


The Beer Facts is a regular blog feature discussing all things beer and brewing.

What is a Gruit anyways?
Not the Guardian of the Galaxy,
the beer silly!

Gruits (pronounced Groo-it, kin-a like the Marvel comic book character) are historic ales dating thousands of years back that use herbs, flowers, and spices as the bittering agents to balance the beer instead of hops.
This could be a single herb or any combination of herbs, in an anything-goes kind of way, depending on what the brewer wants to put in or has access to locally. Below is a list of herbs that have been historically common in Gruits. (Note that yarrow was also recently used in the Pink Boot’s collaboration strong ale that was released!)

·      Yarrow
·      Bog myrtle
·      Heather
·      Marsh or Wild Rosemary
·      Sweet Gale
·      Horehound
·      Ground-ivy (also known as Creeping Charlie)
·      Sage
·      Juniper
·      Ginger
·      Mugwort
·      Aniseed
·      Caraway seed

Really, the list is endless as long as the plant is safe to ingest and not treated with chemicals.

Like a lot of styles, Gruits favorability waned due to a lot of reasons. In the 15-16th centuries, taxes, purity laws, preservation methods, and the rising popularity of hops contributed.

What’s in 515’s Gruit?
Brewing and Partying
like it's 999

515’s Gruit is taking a traditional method of using very locally sourced ingredients.  The 3 herbs include - Prickly Lettuce (which is false milk thistle), Dandelion, and Creeping Charlie (ground-ivy).

While Dandelion is quite known in wine making, the other herbs are a bit more unusual, but fascinating because we all know these as weeds right in our own backyards. Creeping Charlie is actually related to Mint and Prickly Lettuce is part of the Dandelion family.

In addition to these herbs for bittering, the gruit has Castle Malting Belgian Pale for the malt and a saison yeast that will give it additional character and mouthfeel.

It will be called Baby Groot.

"Why are you brewing this?"

Why not?! This style lends it self to endless experimentation and there has been a lot of interest lately in revived historic libations, such as meads and brews found at the bottom of the ocean in shipwrecks. With Gruits being some of the first types of beers to be made, and still very rare to find in breweries and brewpubs today, it’s an interesting history lesson in what our ancestors might have been enjoying.  What might seem unusual by today’s ingredient standards were quite common then, and still can be quite flavorful to the palate.  Come on down to 515 and try what might possibly be your first Gruit!


Written by: Monica Ortiz Shinn
Monica lives in Des Moines, Iowa and aside from craft beer, she enjoys a ludicrous amount of cheese, dreaming of time travel and annoying her taproom manager with New Wave 80's music (That she does!)

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