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Old 03-25-2013, 02:47 AM   #1
burdgod
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Default My (delicious) Gruit Experiment

I didn't have any hops but I really wanted to brew. So I decided to try a gruit. There's a wiccan store within walking distance of my apartment that sells a bunch of herbs, so I bought some.

I just opened it up today to check the gravity after 3 weeks of fermentation, and decided to try a little taste, so in case it tasted bad, I could dry hop it. I used my racking cane as a makeshift thief to collect a sample to drink. I drank it and it tasted amazing! I even resterilized it and drank another.

The taste of the cinnamon was pretty strong, and the myrrh was definitely a very good addition. It was spicy and a bit sour from the lemon (which scared me at first when I opened it and it smelled sour, and I forgot I had added the lemon and I thought it must have developed an infection.)

Unfortunately my hydrometer had broken a few days prior, so I didn't get an original gravity reading. I think I am going to only very lightly carbonate it, as it tasted so good uncarbonated.

I got some of the beer on the tip of my finger by plugging the end of the racking cane after pulling it from the bucket, and before drinking it. Oddly enough, that area of my finger has been somewhat numb for the last hour and a half since pulling the sample. I think that's from the myrrh. It makes typing this feel kinda weird though. lol

Batch Size: 4 Gallons

Grain bill:

8.5 lbs Belgian Pilsner
0.5 lbs white sugar

Yeast (and hops):
Wyeast 1214; approximately 8 oz of beer from a tripel that had been fermenting for 3 days. (Plus the hop-bag containing 1 oz of saaz and 1 oz of hallertau hops. The hops had been first-wort hopped in the previous recipe, so they were just about as spent as they could be.)

(60 min. boil)

Herb/spice/fruit additions: Part used: (Time)
10 g dried rosemary: leaves: (60 min)
0.25 oz coriander: seeds: (60 min)
3 g Bayberry, AKA Wax Gale, AKA Myrica cerifera: root/bark: (60 min)
0.5 oz Yarrow: flower: (60 min)
1 lemon: juice and zest: (30 min)
0.5 oz cinnamon powder: (30 min)
1/8 tsp myrrh: essential oil (15 min)
3 g Bayberry, AKA Wax Gale, AKA Myrica cerifera: root/bark: (15 min)
0.5 oz Yarrow: flower: (15 min)
0.25 oz coriander: seed: (15 min)
2 g Bayberry, AKA Wax Gale, AKA Myrica cerifera: root/bark: (0 min)

Estimated OG: 1.065
measured FG: 1.011
ABV: 7.3%

This was done using the brew in a bag method. Mashed for 75 min in a 5.25 qt pot covered in blankets starting at 160F and ending at 155F. The bag was then removed and allowed to drain for several minutes. Then transferred to approximately 1 to 1.5 gal of sparge water at approximately 165F. Then allowed to drain again, and then the sparge water was added to the 5.25 gal kettle, and boiled for 60 min. It was then racked to the primary fermenter.

I then opened up my tripel that had been fermenting for 3 days, and tried to use my spoon to collect as much of the little remaining krausen as possible. Then I tried to scrape up any yeast that might have already settled to the bottom. In total I probably collected around 8 oz of beer, or maybe a bit more. I also added the hop bag from the tripel.

NOTES: Traditionally gruit recipes call for sweet gale AKA bog myrtle AKA Myrica gale. The Wiccan store had Myrica cerifera, which I hoped was close enough. Also, all the herbs were dried, and who knows how long they have been sitting on that shelf at the store. I would have preferred fresh herbs. Especially the yarrow. I feel like that stuff had really lost most of its flavor and aroma.

I used regular dried rosemary from the grocery store. I wasn't sure when the best times to add each of the herbs were, so I spread them out throughout the boil. When I added the rosemary at the beginning of the boil, for the next 10-15 minutes or so, my kitchen absolutely reaked of rosemary. It was gross, so I didn't add any more at the end of the boil, and luckily, I think most of the rosemary aroma boiled off over the course of the boil.

Also, I didn't weigh any of the herb additions, so some of them are estimates. Especially the Bayberry and Rosemary as those were the only ones that I didn't add the whole bag from the wiccan store to the boil. The times are also kind of estimates. I basically played the herb additions by ear.

By the way, this is my third beer that I've ever brewed. It tastes much better than my first beer did at this point, and I think that is because of the kind of yeast I used. I used safbrew T-58 for my first beer. I don't intend on using it again.

Here is a picture of the beer currently.

http://s15.postimg.org/i4oxmg8zf/DSCF1065.jpg

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Old 05-07-2013, 05:21 AM   #2
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After about 3-4 weeks of bottle conditioning, and several hours in the refrigerator, I am drinking one of these beers and it is delicious!

It is unbelievably smooth, like drinking silk or velvet. It smells herbal and cinnamony. It no longer tastes sour. It's slightly reminiscient of a pumpkin beer I had once because of the cinnamon and smoothness.

It is not very bitter, and I feel like if I had used much more of the wax gale to make it more bitter, it would have had a nasty aftertaste, so I really don't think you could make a very bitter good tasting beer with these wax gale. I'm not sure if upping the amount of myrrh would do anything, because I think a lot of the myrrh ended up just stuck on the sides of the bucket I fermented in, however if adding more myrrh even works, that would be a very tasty way of increasing the bitterness. By the way I think there is still at least a little myrrh in the beer, as after drinking it, the roof of my mouth feels very slightly numb (not nearly as numb as my finger was in my last post-- I'm really not sure why that happened).

This is by far the best gruit beer I've ever had. Of course, that's not saying much, as the only other gruit I've ever had was Flying Dog's International Arms Race (which no offense Flying Dog, I love you, but that is literally the worst beer I've ever had).

The main thing I'd do different next time is eliminate the rosemary. I'm thoroughly convinced, after this experiment, that it has no place in anything that you drink.

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Old 05-07-2013, 05:27 AM   #3
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Thanks for such a cool write up. I've never had a gruit, but it is certainly on my list of things to brew.

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Old 07-20-2013, 03:03 AM   #4
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Interesting! How has it stood up over the past couple months? Gruits aren't supposed to age very well due to the lack of hops (or so I am told.)

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Brewed in 2014: Rye IPA, Honey Sage Ale, Belgian Golden Strong, California Common, Bavarian Style Lager, Weizen, Coffee Stout, Gruit, Gale Ale, Isle of Skye Golden clone, Oktoberfest, Rauchbier, Alpha Male IPA & Chocolate Pepper Stout.

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