What is Gruit Ale?
Centuries ago it would have seemed odd to consider using only one herb to spice beer. Dozens of plants, such as bog myrtle, yarrow, mugwort, heather, and juniper were commonly used in ancient brewing, providing beer makers with a wide array of aromatic and flavourful options. These beers were known as Gruit or Grut (German for herb), and a brewers’ spice blend was a proprietary and carefully guarded secret. However, after the Reinheitsgebot (Bavarian Purity Act of 1516) ordered that only hops were to be used to spice beer, and the Bavarian style of brewing took hold in most of Europe, the Gruit Ale gradually faded into obscurity.
Luckily, several craft breweries have rediscovered this ancient form of brewing. Craft brewing is based on the notion that beer should not be limited by the conventional norm – that beer should be about discovery and experimentation, and Gruit Ales are one of the best examples of this pioneering spirit.
What is International Gruit Day?
"Beau's has made a name for itself with gruits since the brewery introduced Bog Water in 2008, which is made with bog myrtle harvested by an Algonquin native from the wilds of northern Quebec instead of hops." The Ottawa Citizen, Jan. 30, 2014
"In a craft-beer market quickly exhausting the model of bolder, boozier brews, some breweries are setting themselves apart by getting old-fashioned." The Grid Magazine Toronto, Feb. 8, 2013
Since 2013, craft brewers with an interest in making gruit ales have banded together to mark February 1 as International Gruit Day. The day is intended to raise awareness of and pay homage to the historical traditions of brewing with botanicals. We want to make IGD 2016 the biggest and best yet!
In addition to Beau’s All Natural, past participants in International Gruit Day have included
Alma Brewing, Arbor Brewing Co.,
Cambridge Brewing, Cassel Brewery, Church Key Brewing, Country Boy Brewing, Dry Dock Brewing Co., Earth Eagle Brewings, Earth Bread + Brewery, F&M Brewing, Kamala Brewing at the Whip In, Magnolia Brewery, Manantler Craft Brewing, Mountain Town Brewing Co., The Mystic Brewery, New Belgium Brewing, Odyssey Beerwerks, Refined Fool Brewing, Rock Art Brewery, Schlafly Beer, Schmohz Brewing, soLArc Brewing, Unity Vibration, Vintage Brewing Co., and Zero Gravity.
I'm a brewer, how can I participate in IGD (International Gruit Day)?
We would love for your brewery to join our band of botanical brewers and brew up a gruit for February 1, 2016 to celebrate International Gruit Day. Email us to confirm your participation: we will be updating this website with confirmed participants.
We will promote your brewery’s participation on our social and traditional media leading up to IGD 2016, as well as supply you with a) IGD poster art, b) IGD digital logo, and c) a template of a letter to send to your local government asking them to recognize Feb 1 as International Gruit Day in your region (we were successful in making this request ourselves!)
We may also be able to help you source some herbs through our supplier connections. Drop us a line at email@example.com if you’d like to participate!
Download & Print the Poster! (PDF)
Gruit at Wikipedia
Gruit Day Facebook Page
Participating Breweries (Gruit Day 2016)
Alma Brewing Co
Will be making 4 different gruits for IGD 2016.
Beau's All Natural Brewing
Vankleek Hill, ON
Will be previewing Tyrannosaurus Gruit on tap at the brewery on Feb. 1 (beets, hibiscus flowers, spruce tips, juniper berries); will also have Bog Water Gruit and The Bogfather Imperial Gruit
Stout made with mugwort, aniseed, and horehound for IGD 2016
Bicycle Craft Brewery
Gruit is called Betula Birch and is made with Yarrow, Birch leaves and Gentian Root. Flavours of wintergreen, sap and wood from the birch leaves are complemented by a smooth maltiness. An enjoyable bitterness from the yarrow and gentian root lingers on the palate.
Boise Consumer Co-op / Woodland Empire Ale Craft
800 Years Too Late: A rye-accented gruit, featuring continuous additions of celery seed throughout the boil. Near knockout, we added fresh mint with additional celery seed and mint added to the fermentor. For fermentation, we used a blend of house ale yeast and house "bug cocktail" to achieve attenuation and a pleasant acidity respectively.
"Saison des Allergies" is brewed in Collaboration with La Ferme des Arpents Roses where we took the carrots and goldenrod it was brewed with. It was then aged in Chardonnay Barrels with the indigenous microflora found on the goldenrod. It is sour, herbal and refreshing.
Brasseurs du Monde
Saint Hyacynthe, QC
L'ANGELICA, 5.5%: Designed without hops, adding jasmine and herbs like yarrow and angelica bring to this nectar complexity and a refreshing side. et l’angélique apportent à ce nectar une complexité et un côté rafraîchissant.
Vargdricka is a Scandinavian farmhouse ale. Based on the daily drink of the Vikings. It is bittered with Juniper berries, Juniper boughs, Straw, Smoke, and Bog Myrtle. A pale amber beer with a slight honey sweetness balancing the bittering agents.
Cambridge Brewing CO
"CBC is releasing a fresh batch of Weekapaug Gruit on Gruit Day; will also feature a vintage keg of our famous Heather Ale plus a guest faucet of gruit beer from Earth Eagle Brewings in Portsmouth, NH, and Mystic Brewery in Chelsea, MA. Weekapaug Gruit is a 5.5% abv Dark ale with oats fermented with our proprietary Belgian yeast strain, featuring Sweet gale, Yarrow, Labrador Tea, Lemon peel, Coriander, Licorice root, and ginger. Heather Ale is 5% abv. Handpicked heather flowers, sweet gale, and lavender go into this three-time Great American Beer Festival winning beer. Maris Otter barley offers a malty balance to this exceptional beer. "
Heather Legend 4.9% Made with generous amount of heather tips and sweet gale additions for an herbal almost tea like gruit flavors with a hint of mint aromas coming from the heather tips. The malt bill is based off a Scottish Light.
Church Key Brewing
"I am Gruit" is Church-Key's seasonal offering to celebrate International Gruit Day, February 1. We have blended Mugwort and Curaçao dried orange peel to accent a blend of Canadian two row barley and malted wheat to create a light, yet spicy medieval-style elixir. Mugwort has also been used from ancient times as a remedy against fatigue and to protect travelers against evil spirits and wild animals. Roman soldiers put mugwort in their sandals to protect their feet against fatigue. We think we all need to be protected against a little fatigue in the depths of this winter. 6% ABV, zero IBU (because there are no hops).
Community Beer Works
Community Beer Works + Lockhouse Distilling collaboration! Called "Saint Herbert" it is a Gruit/Belgian Dubbel mash up. Made with Egyptian Chamomile, Angelica Root, Costmary, Corriander, Elderberry, Yarrow, Grains of Paradise. ABV 7.3%. Gruit Day celebrations will take place "Gruit's Eve" Jan. 30!
Dominion City Brewing
Meadow & Marsh Gruit Saison, ABV 6.4%. A gruit fermented using Saison yeast featuring fresh cranberry, sumac, dandelion and raspberry leaf. The idea is for something tart, refreshing and bright with citrusy, herbacious notes balanced against a red berry character and moderate bitterness.
Mugwort Ale: The combination of Artemisia absinthium and Artemisia vulgaris. Delicate bitterness and grassy vermuth aroma appears in refreshing malt drink. This ale will be presented on February the 1st - International Gruit Day.
Earth Eagle Brewings
White Light: Pilsen gruit with Skullcap, Yarrow & Sweet Fern; Kumbaya: Rauch gruit with Mugwort, Lungwort & Oregon Grape Root; Black Adder: Black gruit with Labrador Tea, Sweet Gale & Anise Seed; Sahti: Primitive Finnish gruit with Juniper branches & berries, not boiled, not carbonated and not filtered; Wild Willy: our William Wallace Scottish gruit with Juniper berries & Heather flowers, our first coolship beer! The Bog Standard will be playing their brand of sea shanties and Irish music from 6-9pm. All gruits will be $4 a pint for the day.
Great Basin Brewing Co.
Great Basin Tribute Gruit is a dark brown ale paying homage to the original malt beverages enjoyed for much of history. Our Gruit is brewed with a combination of three traditional gruit herbs: yarrow, sweet gale, and mugwort. We added heather tips and lemongrass to give this brew a unique profile. Don’t let the absence of hops deter you from trying something new, or old depending on how you look at it. 6.5% a.b.v., 31 srm
Haliburton Highlands Brewing
Brewing a gruit on IGD: “Garden Gate” light amber ale with honey. A variation of HH's Honey Brown Ale, adapted to incorporate the non-hop additions (yarrow, bog myrtle, labrador tea).
Magnolia Brewing Company
San Francisco, CA
Tapping our Weekapaug Gruit for IGD, brewed with wild rosemary, sweet gale and yarrow. 5.6% abv.
Manantler Craft Brewing
The Gruit Of All Evil (Black Gruit ale)
Microbrasserie du Lac St Jean
Cache à Épices uses a spice mixture that comes from the surrounding boreal forest, and will be on tap in February to celebrate International Gruit Day! (tap room is closed Mondays).
Port Moody, BC
Wild Soured Hibiscus Gruit, brewed with Mugwort and Hibiscus. Wild Soured Hibiscus Gruit gets a good dose of mugwort during the boil, gets naturally soured by the yeasts residing in the brewery during the fermentation process, and is infused with Hibiscus as it is pulled off the yeast.
Mountain Town Brewing Co
Mt. Pleasant, MI
Brewing a total of 10 gruits this year for IGD.
The Mystic Brewery
1. What Keeps Mankind Alive - dandelion, damiana and coriander ; 2. Extradimensional Ancestry - Yarrow, Red Clover Tops and Wild Cherry Bark, aged on Maple and Cherry Wood; 3. Warned By The Television Snow - Mugwort, Chamomile and Bitter Orange.
Navigation Brewing Co. Gruit Ale. A hint of Cherrywood smoked pale malt provides our Gruit with a pleasant smoke aroma and supporting palatableness. Additions of bog myrtle, caraway, rosemary, cardamom, ground cloves, and bay leaves add to this ales unique character. 4.5% ABV, 12 IBU’s.
Pump House Brewery
A gruit beer made with sweet gale, woodruff, mugwort, and wormwood, made to celebrate International Gruit Day 2016.
Botanical Beer and Bonfire Fest (Feb 6): 10 gruits on tap with other low-hopped beers featuring locally harvested herbs and plants.
Short Finger Brewing
Brewing a Gruit on IGD - tentative plans are for wormwood and bitter melon.
Thirsty Bear Organic Brewery
San Francisco, CA
Have made a gruit called “Yerba Buena Pale Gruit”, in conjunction with the “Beer Made By Walking” organization.
Timber City Ginger
Gruit Yourself (5.7% alc./vol.): Brewed to celebrate International Gruit Day, this ancient style of beer is brewed without hops. Instead of hops this unique ale uses an herbal blend of chamomile, mugwort, lemon balm, and lemon peel to create a delicate herbal bitterness. This tasty Gru-It-Yourself beer has an enticing lemon aroma, slightly sweet malt body with notes of honey, chamomile, and a well-balanced floral bitterness which ties it all together.