hist-brewing: gruit guide - part 1

adam larsen euphonic at flash.net
Mon Jun 5 14:24:31 PDT 2000

    Allot of folks have contacted me asking for a guide to gruit
spices.   I've put together a few notes regarding my experiences with
the use of several herbs and a little bit of trivia relevant to each of
them. What follows is a short list that should help get you started.
I'll get more additions to the guide in after i have finished up with
the Cornish Braggot bit.
Oh, an addendum to my last post is taken from the May 25th addition of
Homebrew Digest.  I wasn't able to reach the author as the email got
returned but this stuff is really useful for historical brewing so i
included it.  It's a listing for the only supplier of  Woodruff syrup in
the states i could find. This stuff goes great with plenty of old
fashioned ales and modern wheat beers so buy some.

700 ml for  $18.
J J Jackson
Original Home Brew Outlet
Sacramento CA

                                                 Gruit Herb Quick

Licorice Root (Glyrrhiza Glabra):  Flavor enhancer. Goes well with dark,
full bodied ales. Complements: juniper, woodruff  & mugwort.
Recommended dose: 1-2 ounces per 5 gallons (U.S..).  Uses: mid way
through boil, alcohol based extract in secondary and  boiled into
honey/molassas based syrups. Regional Use: Nordic, English, North
German, Belgium & Holland (less common).   Note: improves head retention

Bitter orange peel (Auurantium Amarae Pericapium):   Flavor enhancer.
Taste: faintly spicy, citrus like & bitter.  Compliments: lighter bodied
and adjunct heavy ales. Complements: Coriander, balm, Cardamom, sage .
Recommended dose: 1-2 ounces per 5 gal.(U.S..).  Uses: last third to
last quarter of  boil, alcohol based extract in secondary and boiled
with gyle during final conditioning . Regional Use: lowlands, Brittany,
Alsace & Northern Burgundy.

Juniper Berries, dried (Juniperus communis): Flavor enhancer and
aromatic. Taste: citrus, tannic with slight astringency.  Compliments:
non aromatic spices, rye, orange peel, most wood shavings and wood
sage.  Best used in ales with O.G.'s over 1.060.  Recommended dose,
without shavings: 1 once for every 10 points of original gravity
starting at 1.060 assuming a  five gallon batch.  When shavings are used
halve the dose of  dried berries.  In hoped ales use 1/2 to 1 once for
every 10 points of original gravity starting at 1.050 assuming a  five
gallon batch. Regional use: Nordic, Baltic, Fresian and Northern
German.     Note: Crush in a hop sack before use.  Amounts recommended
should be increased  by 2  to 2 1/2 fold when using fresh berries.
Warning: I have recently been told that people with kidney problems,
pregnancies and possible pregnancies may face health problems related to
juniper consumption.  I have no mean of verifying the veracity of this
claim but i would urge caution in any case.

Juniper wood : Flavor enhancer, anti-septic and aromatic. Taste: tannic
with definite astringency.  Compliments: many non aromatic spices, rye,
wood sage, bog myrtle, orange and carduuus.  Best used in ales with
O.G.'s over 1.060.  Used principally as an anti-septic in Nordic ales it
is also used in German ales for it's flavor and aromatic qualities.
Use: boiled for use in strike, mash out and sparge waters as well as
wort.  When placed into a secondary fermenter the wood was typically
boiled during a previous stage of  the production process.  Warning: see

Elder Berries (Sambucus nigra):  aromatic & flavor enhancer to a lesser
Compliments:  rye, orange peel, most wood shavings, treacle and
juniper.  Best in drudge like ales, braggots (heavy & sweet preferably)
and sweet ales.  Regional Use: Albion, Cornwall, Wales, Nordic and
Baltic Countries, Lowlands & Germany.  Dose, dried: 3-6 ounces per 5
gallons U.S.  and twice as much when using fresh.
Use: in mash tun, boil, final conditioning and fresh juice directly into
one's mug.  Note: Crush in a hop sack prior to use.

Wood Sage leaves (Teucrium scorodonia):  anti-septic/hop surrogate.
Compliments: balm, coriander, cardamom, orange, Comfrey, nettles, oat &
rye.  I would recommend that wood sage be used in ales characterized by
the following: high adjunct content, high mash temperatures and an O.G.
of no less then 1.065.  Regional uses: Germany, Albion, Cornwall, Nordic
and Baltic countries.  Use: Boil vigorously an extract consisting of  4
ounces of  dried leaves or twice as much fresh leaves for 35-45  minutes
in a kettle with a quart and a half of  water.  strain off  the liquid
and allow to cool before placing the extract in a sealed bottle.  One
should add four to 6 ounces during the boil of  a six gallon batch.  I
would add an additional tablespoon after sampling the ale once it has
sat for  3 weeks if it's not bitter enough.  One should sample and
repeat this process once every two to three weeks as needed till  you
achieve the desired degree of bitterness.
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