hist-brewing: guit odds & sods

Matt Maples matt_lists at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 18 10:34:48 PDT 2000

Adem is quite right, a gruit is not a definition of specific herbs rather a name that refers to any list of herbs in a beer (an herb bill if you will). The term is used in much the same way as the term Grist is used for grain (referring to the grain bill). It would be my guess that the popular recipe that we see so much (Yarrow, Sweet Gale and Marsh Rosemary) probably came about after the church started to control the sale of gruit and thus one recipe was being more widely distributed. This is only my opinion I don't know this to be fact. 

As for gruits in general I could see them being a source of pride much like a family recipe. As most brewing was done in the home the recipe would be based on what grew in the area and greatly based on personal taste. 

I for one tinkered with some different gruits and didn't really like Yarrow that much. The Yarrow, Sweet Gale and Marsh Rosemary is a good place to start, I mean it is a recipe that has stood the test of time (sort of :-) ) but if you do not like it don't give up just try a different herb. Hops are only one of the cornucopia of herbs nature supplies. Herbs can provide many different flavors and effects on the human body. As with cooking a good brewer / mead maker should know his herbs and what they can bring to the beverage.

I don't brew too much beer these days, mead is beverage of choice and I am not sure if the term gruit was ever used in mead making but I do play around with a lot of different herbs in my mead.

Matt Maples
Anagram: "Tap Me Malts!"

May mead regain its rightful place as the beverage of gods and kings

>     On a different note, i have noticed that a great number of  brewers
> hold to the misconception that their was a set and defined base for
> gruits.  This is simply untrue, their appears to have been a vast
> variety of gruits, a great number which lacked Yarrow, Sweet Gale and
> Marsh Rosemary all together.
>     Instead, it appears to me that gruits were determined by what was
> available locally and preferred by regional folkways and preferences
> which changed over time.  Of course trade centers had access to a wider
> variety then isolated communities but one should not think that some
> formula for gruit composition met with wide spread acceptance.

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