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Miraculix

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Hello everyone,

the topic popped up in two other threads, and it seems like a hand full of people likes to experiment on the gruit front, so lets combine our efforts in this thread.

For those who don't know, gruit beer is the "oldschool" way of making beer, with little to no hops but a whole range of herbs and combinations instead.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gruit

The herbs can include nearly everything which is somehow aromatic and eadable, but the main ones are sweat gale or bog myrtl (that was the most famous one before the hops were enforced by the church), yarrow, heather, wormwood, mugwort (probably the second most used one, together with yarrow), ground ivy (grows EVERYWHERE in the uk, Mugwort also), meadosweet, juniper branches and berries, wild rosemarie (it is not related to the herb rosemary) and so on... There are a lot of those herbs.

To make a nice gruit, the brewer has to overcome some obstacles. First the taste, the herbs can be combined and as there are so many herbs, there are endless numbers of combinations possible. I personally stay with the approach "as simple as possible" but that might be only my idea.

The biggest problem i faced when brewing gruit was the fact that hops do keep all those unwanted bacteria und molds out of the beer, because hops are a strong preservative. Without the hops, spoiling the brew becomes quite easy.

I have brewed with yarrow, ground ivy, heather, sweet gale, mugwort and wild rosemary.

All the "dry hopped" (no hops used, but instead the herb) brews turned sour during the carbonation in the bottle, in other words, the herbs do not pocess those preserving abilitys of the hops. None of them, except sweet gale and maybe ground ivy.

I did make a fairly easy brew with sweet gale only (pilsener malt and 20-30% pale ale malt as I did run out of pilsener) in which i did boil 50% of the herb with the wort and added the remaining 50% unboiled into the primary fermentation. The result is delicous and not spoiled or sour as all the other ones were (except ground ivy, but i did not "dry hop" with ground ivy, i boiled it all).

Tastewise were all of the tested herbs remearkable. They all contribute their own note and I would recommend to brew a tea out of each, to get to know them. I went the long road and created a brew for each, do not know if that is really necessary.

My conclusions so far, better boil all the herbs to sanitize them, or make an alcoholic extract with vodka or a similarly pure alcohol.

Sweet gale seems to have similar characteristics to hops, regarding preservation and there might be other herbs which can do the same.

My next step will be a combination of herbs, possibly sweet gale, yarrow and mugwort and maybe a bit ground ivy (does not taste so good if it is overused) which I will boil in a wort of pale malt, red x and 10% crystal for some body and sweetness. I might also add some wormwood for the bittering (amazingly bitter herb).

I will keep you updated, please feel free to share all your ideas and results in this thread as well, so that we can all learn from each other and have some gruity fun around here :)

:ban:

Cheers!
 

Beerswimmer

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I really like Steenbrugge Tripel, it's labeled as a gruut/gruit beer. Not really sure if it is, or if it's hopped and spices are added.
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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I thought i'd add something about the way the herbs interact with the alcohol and often create a different type of buzz than a hopped beer.

The hops usually used for beer are psychoactiv themself, one can certainly feel or see it when comparing drinking a similar amount of alcohol in a wine mix drink or other, non hop drink. Hops are a mild sedative, they make a bit lazy and relax the mind, they also supress sexual drive. They also contribute a lot of phyto oestrogens (say hallo to the beer titties!), but that is a storry for itself.

So technically, every non hopped drink has a different buzz than beer. Often more active.

I can only speak from my own experience regarding ground ivy beer and sweet gale beer, it sure has both a stimulating effect. I had some pints of those, but at max two at the same time. They give you a nice relaxed push forward, feels good, not too much and only slightly stimulative. Have read though, that combined with mugwort the effect of ground ivy should be multiplied. Going to test that soon.

Have only read about yarrow, but yarrow should push the effect alcohol has on the system, which means you get drunk quicker and need less alcohol. have not tested that yet, but will do that soon.

Mugwort and wormwood contain Thujon, but according to what I have read, the amount you can get by fermenting it is to low to have a real effect on you. I believe that, wormwood is so extremly bitter that afaik, one to two grams per gallon can be used, otherwise the taste is to strong to enjoy the drink. And the Thujon content in Mugwort is way smaller than in Wormwood. Mugwort is often used as a herbal tea, i never heard that anybody got high from that (luckily).

One herb which seems to have the potential to be a bit dangerous is wild rosemary. It is in no way connected with the kitchen herb rosemary, it belongs to the family of the rododendrons. Multiple sources state that the vikings used the flowertops (important, the leaves etc. can be used to, but do not contain nearly as much of the substance that causes the narcotic effect as the flowers) in their meads to spice them up and get into berserker mode when drinking it. However, multiple other sources (some of them tested it themself) state that the herb just has a mild narcotic or stimulating effect, they did not use the flowers but leaves, though. I have some of the finished beer here, will try it tomorrow.

Heather is an interesting one. Heather itself can be a bit psychoactive but the real fun part is a moss growing on the heather which contains a whiteish powder containing yeasts and... psychoactive substances. Unfortunately, my heatherale turned sour, so I cannot say much about this from my own experiences, but I will definetely collect some wild heather when they are blooming.

I think I covered the main herbs. Most of them have midly stimulating effects and some of them even are aphrodisiacs, the opposite of hops which surpress sexual drive. All in all, much room for experiments. Some herbs should have different effeects when combined, we will see.

Some sources of what I have written are:


Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation Paperback – 1 Dec 1998
by Stephen Harrod Buhner


Make Mead Like a Viking: Traditional Techniques for Brewing Natural, Wild-Fermented, Honey-Based Wines and Beers Paperback – 19 Nov 2015
by Jereme Zimmerman

And for the German speaking fraction (unfortunately not available in English, focusses on the pychoactive herbs):
Urbock - Jenseits von Hopfen und Malz
Christian Raetsch

I will create two testgruits in the next days containing the main herbs. I'll keep you posted!
 

premington

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This is an excellent thread! Thank you for starting it, Miraculix.

As stated in another thread, I'll be having a gruit brew day on Saturday. If people are interested, I can share the recipe and report how things went.

So I can learn from others, and we can all share our knowledge, are there any herbal pairings people favor?

My recipe will be using yarrow, sweet gale, juniper berries, and wormwood. I determined this through various tea trials, but have never actually brewed it. The pairing worked well together, so I'm curious to see how it turns out.

For the wormwood, Miraculix, you stated 1 to 2 grams per gallon. Did you mean per gallon or per 5 gallon brew? I was going to start with 1 gram in the mash and then 1 gram in the boil and see how it tastes. Final amount in the fermenter will be about 6 gallons with 2 or 3 grams of wormwood.

Of course, this projected amount could be totally off. My approach is to start low. If I put too much in, there's no removing it.

As I'm sure people know, determining the exact amount of any herb is a bit tricky since there's so little documented about many of these herbs as they're used in brewing. I seem to find quotes of quantities that are quite different from each other. Also, if you're using fresh-picked herbs, you don't need as much. For this brew, I'll be getting fresh-picked yarrow, so the exact amount I'll need to use will be a little bit of guesswork. As with cooking in a kitchen, it's important to taste your cooking as you go. I'll be doing the same thing with this brew.

So if people are interested, I'll report my additions to this weekends brew and the concentrations used.

Cheers! :mug:
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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Yes definitely post your results and the recipe!

Quite a classic combination you got there, judged on the stuff I have read. I did mean gram per gallon and I would definitely also start on the low end.

Why do you want to add herbs to the mash? Any specific reason?
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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Oh and I got one more big thing in mind atm.

Leaving the boiled herbs in the fermenter or not during fermentation, after boiling the word.

I think for the sake of getting all the goodies out of the herbs, I tend to leave them in.
Alcohol is a potent solvent and it certainly does solve different stuff than water alone.
There might be also additional interaction between the yeast and the herbs which we do not have on our radar so I think it is best to leave them in.

What are your thoughts about that?
 
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Miraculix

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Update on the wormwood front, I am just reading "make mead like a viking" and the author said that he used 7g per 5 gallon batch and the result was still undrinkable. So I guess 2g per five gallon might be a good starting point.
 

premington

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Oh and I got one more big thing in mind atm.

Leaving the boiled herbs in the fermenter or not during fermentation, after boiling the word.

I think for the sake of getting all the goodies out of the herbs, I tend to leave them in.
Alcohol is a potent solvent and it certainly does solve different stuff than water alone.
There might be also additional interaction between the yeast and the herbs which we do not have on our radar so I think it is best to leave them in.

What are your thoughts about that?
I'm inclined to agree with you, based on past experience. Magical things happen during fermentation, and the herbs are kinda' magical in and of themselves, so I'm intending to leave the fermentation additions in the fermenter.

One thing I'm a little concerned about is, I have a conical fermenter. I don't want the herbs to settle to the bottom of the fermenter and get covered up. I'm toying with the idea of placing them in a muslin bag and suspending them in the fermenter. I have an SS Brewmaster fermenter, so I can clasp down the top over the bag, which will hold it suspended in the beer rather than having everything settle to the bottom. What do you think of this approach?

But I don't want to compromise sanitation, so I'll probably add them in a muslin bag at the end of the boil for simplicity and let them sit in the fermenter while the yeasties work their wonderful magic! :D

As for the honey in this recipe (I'll be adding 1 lb.), I read a study done someplace (wish I saved it) where they did test batches to see how to brew with honey in a way that gets the best expression of residual honey flavor. They found adding it to the fermenter at high krausen produced the best results. Otherwise the honey taste gets blown off during the boil, and the yeast do a very efficient job of consuming all the sugars, so it results in little post-fermentation honey flavor.

So... herbs will be left in the fermenter, and honey will be added about a day after fermentation takes off (short boil in water, cooled, and dumped in the fermenter).
 

premington

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Yes definitely post your results and the recipe!

Quite a classic combination you got there, judged on the stuff I have read. I did mean gram per gallon and I would definitely also start on the low end.

Why do you want to add herbs to the mash? Any specific reason?
That's a good question. I read this being done with other gruits, and it makes sense. For addition quantities, I want to taste often and adjust. Starting with a small amount in the mash will allow me to taste after the second runnings are combined. I can then decide how much if each item to put in at the end of the boil. Taste again, and then make a decision on how much to add in the fermenter.

I plan to have a general recipe with projected quantities, but I'm gonna let my tongue decide on real-world quantities as I mash and brew.
 

premington

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Update on the wormwood front, I am just reading "make mead like a viking" and the author said that he used 7g per 5 gallon batch and the result was still undrinkable. So I guess 2g per five gallon might be a good starting point.
Excellent info! Yes... this aligns with what I've read.

I wish I could remember all the places I read stuff. When researching, I read sooooooo many different things from different places. YouTube videos, forum posts, recipes, articles, books, etc. It's dizzying! But I absorb it all and form my own approach that's kind of an amalgam of everything I've read and learned.

So I wish I could share the source of my decision to start with 1 gram and then build up, but I forget.

One real driving force for deciding this was how shocked I was at how powerful 1 tsp. of wormwood was in a tea. I then made a tea with yarrow and chamomile and added THREE DROPS of the wormwood tea with a dash of sugar, and the wormwood amount was good. I then realized, if three DROPS works in a cup of tea, the addition to an entire 6 gallon batch has got to be real small!

For this reason, I'll start with 1 gram in the mash, taste, and then decide what to do moving forward.
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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That's a good question. I read this being done with other gruits, and it makes sense. For addition quantities, I want to taste often and adjust. Starting with a small amount in the mash will allow me to taste after the second runnings are combined. I can then decide how much if each item to put in at the end of the boil. Taste again, and then make a decision on how much to add in the fermenter.

I plan to have a general recipe with projected quantities, but I'm gonna let my tongue decide on real-world quantities as I mash and brew.
Sounds correct, but unless you keep the herbs in a muslin bag, you would need to remove them together with the rest of the malt. Which would keep them away from the yeast... I think the yeast would be very sad about not meeting the gruit herbs.


I will brew something today, not quite sure about the recipe, and only going to be two times two Liter batches, but I have to do it :D

I guess one sweat gale, yarrow, wild rosemary ale and one sweet gale, mugwort, ground ivy ale. Have to find some ground ivy later on...

Edit:

Ok, the mash is mashing. 700g pale malt (marris), 300g Munich EBC 15 and 100 g Crystal EBC 60. Gonna be a bit strong for 4l beer only, but..... heeeeeyyyy..... :D
 

premington

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Sounds correct, but unless you keep the herbs in a muslin bag, you would need to remove them together with the rest of the malt. Which would keep them away from the yeast... I think the yeast would be very sad about not meeting the gruit herbs.


I will brew something today, not quite sure about the recipe, and only going to be two times two Liter batches, but I have to do it :D

I guess one sweat gale, yarrow, wild rosemary ale and one sweet gale, mugwort, ground ivy ale. Have to find some ground ivy later on...

Edit:

Ok, the mash is mashing. 700g pale malt (marris), 300g Munich EBC 15 and 100 g Crystal EBC 60. Gonna be a bit strong for 4l beer only, but..... heeeeeyyyy..... :D
Damn... Too bad we're so far away from each other. I'd say, let's get together and have a gruit brew day party! I have some homebrew to share during the mash. :mug:

Your mash is partially similar to mine. Just got the grains a little while ago: Maris Otter, Munich, pale malt, 3 lbs. of flaked oats, flaked wheat, and roasted barley.

Oh... I'm using muslin bags during the entire brew, but I'll add herb additions to the mash additions naked and mix them in, then toss the bunch in our compost heap. :D The fermenter additions, I'll place those in a muslin bag and clasp the top of the fermenter over the top of the bag so it hangs in the middle of the fermenter. Gotta make sure everything is sanitary.... So I suppose I'll have to boil the bag and contents for a few minutes, then transfer that to the fermenter.

Curious to hear how your brew comes out. Report back!
 
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Miraculix

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Sure, I will.

Just have to wait 3 or 4 weeks :D

Gonna go hunt some ground ivy now!

I also saw a looot of meadosweet on my way back from work, maybe I will got some of those too.
 
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Mate, it's a shame that you live so far away, but luckylie we got the internet to connect and share the knowledge we acquire.

I just had one pint of Wild Rosemary ale 14g on 5.5liter beer, 9g of the herb was boiled for one hour, the other 5g was dry hopped. The beer turned a bit sour, but it is truly delicious. I do not know if you ever had a berliner weisse but it tastes like this, only a bit more fruity and some character which I cannot describe, floral maybe... really nice. It does not make you drowsy like hops do, in fact i am getting quite activ after one pint but the buzz is also unusually strong, compared to one pint of regular beer. Although the beer should have around 4-5% Alc. I really like this one.I only used leaves and the rest of the plant, except roots, so no Flower buds involved.

I am brewing two gruit beers atm. One "gruit trinity" one with

3g Sweet gale
3g Wild rosemary
3g Yarrow
0.22g Wormwood

3l Final product with an OG of around 1.06 (7% to 8% Alc. if I am correct)
Maybe the yarrow is to much, but I liked the idea of having this "trinity" thing going on... 3 main herbs, 3g and 3 liters.....

The second one contains my freshly collected herbs, wanted to make something flowery because I found Meadosweet and Ground Ivy which have both a floral Aroma.

3g Sweet gale
3.6g Meadosweet flowers (thought it would be more when collecting...)
8.75g Fresh Mugwort
5g Ground Ivy (fresh)

Og and amount as the one above.

... I just tasted the trinity one after 20min of boil.... maaaaaan I can REALLY taste the Wormwood. Unbelivable. 0.22g is NOTHING on 3l.... I am really really glad that I did not use more.

....finished just the last sip of the Wild Rosemary Ale, it was delicious. I think it is my best beer so far (have only brewed about ten, but at least 5 of them were "normal" ones).

Cheers!
 

premington

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Mate, it's a shame that you live so far away, but luckylie we got the internet to connect and share the knowledge we acquire.

I just had one pint of Wild Rosemary ale 14g on 5.5liter beer, 9g of the herb was boiled for one hour, the other 5g was dry hopped. The beer turned a bit sour, but it is truly delicious.

<Snip!>

... I just tasted the trinity one after 20min of boil.... maaaaaan I can REALLY taste the Wormwood. Unbelivable. 0.22g is NOTHING on 3l.... I am really really glad that I did not use more.

....finished just the last sip of the Wild Rosemary Ale, it was delicious. I think it is my best beer so far (have only brewed about ten, but at least 5 of them were "normal" ones).

Cheers!
I'd love to try wild rosemary ale! You know, in the process of preparing for this gruit, I purchased over a dozen herbs commonly used in gruits. So it's been a mite bit confusing knowing how to narrow the recipe down.

Is wild rosemary the same as marsh rosemary? If so, then I know that herb. As a tea, it actually has a nice, clean tea-like flavor, weaker than sweet gale. I really liked the sweet gale tea also and found it similar to marsh rosemary. It had a stronger tea-like flavor than marsh rosemary. I liked it, so I chose it for the gruit. I've been super curious how it might taste fermented. Very glad to hear that you like the wild rosemary as much as you do. I'm excited about this weekend's gruit brew.

I'm a pretty patient guy, but it'll be tough having to wait a month+ for it to ferment and bottle condition (I don't keg... YET!). :)

Yeah... Wormwood is incredibly potent! I was amazed and shocked at the undrinkable wormwood tea I made. That's why I'm so scared of accidently doping the wort with too much of it. You used about 1/4 the amount I plan to use as my initial addition into 9.6 gallons of preboiled wort. I expect it'll be too low, so I'll add another gram during the boil and continue adding more as I see fit.

The thing to remember, anyone reading this who is contemplating using it... BE CAREFUL! Underpitch, taste, and then add more in small amounts! Wormwood can easily destroy your gruit, if you use too much.
 
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Miraculix

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Labrador tea and wild rosemary are related but not the same. The first is native to America and has less of the narcotic substance which wild rosemary was used for so often in viking times. Wild rosemary is native to Europe and I think wild rosemary has two Latin names the old one is Ledum palustre and the recent one is rodhodendron tomentosum, but I might confuse those names. Anyway, they can be used interchangeable in gruit, the flavour is nearly identical.

I did exactly the same regarding buying herbs, I also have now around twelve herbs flying around and only used two thirds of them.

Just tasted the wormwood containing Wort this morning again when getting it into the fermenter, it tastes pleasant. It is bitter but not too bitter. Could have been 0.3 instead of 0.22g if one favours bitter beer.

I had too much Wort of both beers, so I mixed the remainder together and started a third one, containing all the herbs from the two beers :)
 

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What is the most herbs you've used at one time&#65311; Have you noticed any "herbal confusion" from using too many herbs? I've been taking the approach of choosing one primary herb, two adjuncts, and one bitter. I was concerned too many herbs would create too confusing a blend on the senses. Any thought?
 
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I agree, but not based on personal experiences.

The gruits I brewed (except the three from yesterday) were all single herb gruits, as I wanted to get to know each herb one by one.

Now I know them and start combining them, but not too much at a time.

I did not find a single herb that has truly bitter qualities, except for wormwood, so I do not really think about single herbs as b bittering herbs, except wormwood. The combination either bitters enough, or I add wormwood.

Even mugwort and yarrow and ground ivy are not bittering that much.... So at the end there will be some wormwood involved, most of the time.

For my last batch, I went intentionally with the main gruit herbs and with the herbs I found outside for the other batch.

Maybe with more experience I will get to a point where I also want to add small amounts of other herbs to perfect the flavour profile, but I actually doubt that :D

I want my gruit to taste good and have a certain effect. A nice active buzz which also can make horny and creative. In other words, the opposite of regular beer.

When this goal is reached, I might consider fine tuning the taste a bit... Or maybe it will be already fine at that point. Dunno!
 
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Little update on the gruitbeer tastings I just did.

As I did say before, nearly all of my gruit beers I dry hopped turned sour. But after reading parts of "Make mead like a viking", I look a bit different on those sour beers. I just opened a yarrow and a sweet gale ale, and I just judged them on taste, not on the fact that I expected them to be not sour.

So sweet gale was kind of ok... maybe a bit unpleasent. the nose had some sulfor, eggish flavour, but the taste was completely ok. I think the yeast from the bottle was the reason for the nose, I just like to consume the yeast with the rest, lots of vitamins, less hangover the next day.

The yarrow was somehow like a sour lemonade. Really really nice. And really really intoxicating. I went out with a good friend whom I haven't seen for a long time and had a few pints and the last beer was the yarrow and it just made boom. One yarrow beer is like drinking three hop beers. Tastes good though :D

Anyway, just to confirm, there is some great potential in the gruit herbs. I think it is just a wise idea to rethink the idea that a beer has to be in a certain way. I think it might be better to think in a way like "do I like the product" and dropping all the expectations aside before judging the beer. If the beer turns out a bit sour, why bother if it tastes like tasty lemon and is very pleasant?

I might also start (again) some experiments with wild fermentation. But first I want to create a truely nice gruit recipe.
 

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Okay... As promised, here's a report on a looooong all-grain brew day to create my first gruit. Brew day was a full nine hours. This time was elongated by some complications, which I'll describe below. I expect it won't be perfect, since it's difficult to get specific information on herbal additions and concentrations, but I did my homework making multiple teas and experimenting with blends, and this is what I came up with.

The recipe is derived from the brew notes, which I'll post here. I realize this is a total beer-geek read, but I decided to write it this way because, in preparing for this brew, I found so few reports like the one I'm writing here. Reading a post like this would have really helped me know how to approach a beer of this style.

Gruit Beer Brew Day Notes 6/17/ 2017
-------------------------------------------
A yeast starter was created using two packs of Wyeast 1187, Ringwood Ale. The SmackPack was sluggish and it took overnight for the pack to begin swelling. Because of the slow start, I decided to do a vitality starter. For information on a vitality starter, refer to Ray Found's article. After 8 hours, the starter was slow in CO2 activity. A spin plate was used.

The grain bill for this recipe is as follows:

4 lbs. Maris Otter
4 lbs. Munich malt
3 lbs. Oats (flaked)
1 lb. Amber malt
1 lb. Wheat (flaked)
1 lb. Honey
.5 lb. Barley (roasted)
.5 lb. Rice hulls

Bittering, flavoring, and aroma are provided by the following herbal additions:

- Juniper berries (crushed) (2 oz.)
- Sweet gale (2 oz.)
- Yarrow (2 oz.)
- Chamomile (1 oz.)
- Wormwood (2 g)

NOTE: These herbs were dried. If using freshly foraged herbs, use half the quantity shown.

Herbs were placed in two muslin bags:

Muslin bag #1 (used during boil)
------------------------------------
* This is a smaller bag, designed to hold the herbs in a ball.

Chamomile (1 oz.)
Juniper berries (crushed) (1 oz.)
Sweet gale (1 oz.)
Yarrow (1 oz.)
Wormwood (2 g)

Muslin bag #2 (used during fermentation)
-----------------------------------------------
*This is a longer bag, designed to suspend in the fermenter with the top of the bag hanging out of the fermenter. In my setup, the top of the SS Brewtech fermenter is placed over the bag, holding it in place.

Juniper berries (crushed) 1 oz.
Sweet gale 1 oz.
Yarrow 1 oz.

Brew Day
----------

Water was treated to provide about 75 ppm of sulfate and 75 ppm of chloride. The rest of my water profile is fine for an ale. Mild lactic acid additions were added until pH was about 5.8. This was to reduce some of the bicarbonate in my water.

Ten gallons of water was prepared. Eight gallons was used in the boil. Six gallons made it to the fermenter.

After reading "A Guide to Flaked Oats" by Ben Bakelaar (https://www.love2brew.com/Articles.asp?ID=496), I decided to do a temperature rest on the oats to more significantly reduce beta-glucans, which will translate into a more pronounced mouthfeel. I took the 3 lbs. of oats and coupled them with 3 lbs. of Maris Otter. I didn't have a large enough pot for all the grist, so I split them between two pots. One had 1/3 of the grist with one gallon of water. The other had the remaining 2/3 of the grist with two gallons of water. The temperature was held at about 122 F for 30 minutes, and then the grains and water were moved to the mash tun.

I had trouble getting the mash temperature to 152 F. Since the mash used during the temperature rest was at 116 F in the mash tun, I didn't know what temperature to heat the strike water. I heated it to 180 F and put it in the mash tun. The temperature of the mash was 134 F, way off from 152 F. So I drew off about 1 gallon of wort and heated it to 200 F and returned this to the mash tun. I poured about 1/2 the wort back in the mash tun and measured the temp of 165 F, which was way too high. I tossed in a sanitized ice pack, and within a few minutes the temperature was at 152.2. I then moved the ice pack to the strike water (cleaned) and reduced that to 152.8 F and then poured this in the mash tun. The final mash temp was about 152 F.

When using 5%-10% and up of oats, it's not a bad decision to do a temperature rest even with flaked oats. In the future, when the rest is complete, I'll draw off about a gallon of wort and heat that to about 200 F, and add it back slowly while watching the temperature. When the target temperature is reached, then I'll reduce the strike water to the same temperature before adding it back to the mash. I seem to learn something new with each all-grain batch I brew.

The mash pH measurement was about 5.35. I titrated lactic acid to bring this down to 5.2.

The mash was left for a 60-minute saccharification rest. At the end of the rest, the mash was at about 146 F.

The gravity at first running was 1.073. The after mash gravity was 1.043.

The wort was boiled for 60 minutes. At 30 minutes, the contents of muslin bag #1 were added. At 10 minutes, the contents of muslin bag #2 were added. At the end of the boil, muslin bag #1 was discarded (composted). At 15 minutes, 1-1/2 Whirlfloc tablets were added, and a heaping 1/4 tsp. of yeast nutrient was also added.

At the end of the boil, the wort was chilled down to about 67 F.

The wort OG going into the fermenter was 1.055.

I tasted the wort. Very interesting flavor, like nothing I've ever tasted. It had that classic all-grain taste, but with it were the chamomile and yarrow with some other flavors. I could detect a mild roasted flavor, presumably from the roasted barley. There was a faint citrus note. I could barely detect the wormwood. Its bitter flavor was there underneath everything else. With all the malt sweetness, I decided not to add any further wormwood. My senses tell me, after the sugar is mostly fermented out, the beer&#8217;s dryness will bring the bitter forward. I don't want this to have too pronounced a bittering effect. Wormwood has a rougher style of bitterness than what hops provide. It has an astringent edge. A little goes a long way!

Muslin bag #2 was placed in the fermenter and suspended halfway. The wort was oxygenated with an oxygen tank for 1 minute. The fermenter was filled, the yeast starter pitched, and the top of the fermenter was secured in place. An airlock was inserted with a blow off tube routed into a growler filled with water, which was doped with StarSan.

Now we wait for fermentation to begin. At seven hours, I see no airlock activity.

At high krausen, I'll prepare a mixture of water and 1 lb. of honey. I'll boil this, then cool it to about 68 F, and pitch it into the fermenter. This idea came from a study I read that analyzed and tested different methods of adding honey when brewing beer. The tests found the most honey flavor was preserved when the honey was added at high krausen. Unfortunately, I don't recall the source.

That's about it for now. I'll report how this comes out over the coming months. I've read many posts like this, and most never follow up on how the brew tasted after kegging/bottle conditioning. I promise I'll report back.
 
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Thanks for the detailed report! This will be of great benefit for people who are getting into it. I perceive wormwood exactly the same way, it is definitely a different type of bitterness compared to the bitterness we know from hops. Carefulness is important. I am really looking forward to seeing how your brew will turn out in the end. If it will be worth it to age it a bit or if is best fresh and so on....

Also that you used chamomile is very interesting. That herb wasn't on my radar at all. I'd rather taken sage instead, but just based on a feeling, without any real experience at all.

I just got notice from my landlord out of nowhere, so I will stop brewing till I am in a new Appartement. Have a Saison, a neipa and three small gruit batches still fermenting though, so it won't get boring :D

Gotta drink all of it before moving houses :D
 

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Thanks Miraculix... We'll see how this comes out. I'm super curious to see what I get.

Almost 24 hours and still no airlock activity. <sigh> I hate yeasts like this. :D Wyeast 1187 is known for being a slow starter. I've heard of some people waiting 3+ days before things took off. Hard to be patient.

Sorry to hear you can't make beer. What happened? Did your landlord smell the brewing?

If I could, I'd be more than happy to help you drink your brews before you move! :mug:
 
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The brewing is no problem for him, he just needs the room I live in for himself so I need to find a new place and don't want to have to carry full fermenters with me.

I have still six which are full :D

But the biggest ones are one gallon... So they are all very small.
 
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We are having above 30 degrees here in the UK the last days, going to be fruity gruits I guess :D
 

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Well, took a taste of the gruit at only 2 days, not because I planned to, but fermentation never took off. I checked the gravity. To my shock, it was 1.019 (corrected), down from an OG of 1.055. It actually DID take off! The CO2 I think was leaking out of the top by where the muslin bag is hanging out of the fermenter. It wasn't exiting the airlock.

I made up the blend of ~16 oz of the beer in a pot, mixed 1 lb. of honey in, boiled and cooled it, and put it in the fermenter. After I took the top off the fermenter and added the honey, then put the top back down, it took off! I think reseating the top sealed it properly, now it's super active! The airlock blurps about 6 to 8 times a second.

Taste was nice, for a green beer. Most all beers taste bad right out of the gate, at least to my taste. This tasted okay. I can taste the spicy herbal notes, which were very interesting. There's a blend of flavors, which include malty, roasted notes. The wormwood bitterness is barely perceptible. In fact, I didn't even know it was there until I thought about it, then I could notice it. It's very subtle and integrated well. Hopefully it'll maintain its balance.

Don't know how this'll all mature as it ferments out and ages, but I can't wait to see! :tank:
 
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Heather beer is nice. Made some recently with bought Heather, some online shops for brewing supplies do have them in stock.

Just make sure not to dry hop with them, as your beer would turn sour (so did mine). But also slightly sour, it tastes good.

Heather tastes a bit like certain better black teas I had the pleasure to try. And if you would be able to collect some wild Heather during the right time of the year, you would get some extras, as you surely know, after reading the herbal beer book ;)
 

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Great thread. I have been interested in gruit since I heard about it a year or so ago. When I finally decided to brew one, I went to the health food store and bought some white sage, lavender flowers and culinary rosemary. I didn't end up using the dried rosemary as it grows everywhere is so cal, so I used fresh. I brewed a two gallon batch of about 4.5 to 5 abv pale ale. I boiled most of the sage and rosemary for 60 and the rest of the rosemary and sage with the lavender flowers at 5 minutes left. It turned out super rosemary forward, but as it aged in the bottle this mellowed, kind of like hops do, and the sage and lavender moved more forward. It turned out really good, but it was best 1/2 and 1/2 with a juniper IPA I had on tap.

I don't know where to find the traditional gruit herbs. If anyone can provide purveyors that would be great.
 

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Great thread. I have been interested in gruit since I heard about it a year or so ago. When I finally decided to brew one, I went to the health food store and bought some white sage, lavender flowers and culinary rosemary. I didn't end up using the dried rosemary as it grows everywhere is so cal, so I used fresh. I brewed a two gallon batch of about 4.5 to 5 abv pale ale. I boiled most of the sage and rosemary for 60 and the rest of the rosemary and sage with the lavender flowers at 5 minutes left. It turned out super rosemary forward, but as it aged in the bottle this mellowed, kind of like hops do, and the sage and lavender moved more forward. It turned out really good, but it was best 1/2 and 1/2 with a juniper IPA I had on tap.

I don't know where to find the traditional gruit herbs. If anyone can provide purveyors that would be great.
Hi cmac62! Thanks for replying with your experience.

What herb concentrations did you use?

I purchased most of my herbs from Wild Weeds. They were very helpful. The package was sent quickly and arrived in a few days, and the herbs didn't seem to lack freshness, although they were dried. I've purchased from them twice and had a good experience with them both times.
 
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When I tried to order from wild weeds, they did run out on sweet gale. But they were very helpful and suggested alternative sources... Which unfortunately did not have some left either.

I purchased mine here :
http://www.bogmyrtle.com

Got it two days later!

Edit: got my wild rosemary from amazon UK... Found it nowhere else in the net. I am actually not quite sure if it is the real wild rosemary or "just" Labrador tea. The later is a different plant (native to America, wild rosemary is native to Europe) and has less of the interesting substances. Aroma should be nearly identical though.

Btw. Just had a nice pint of Heather ale :)
 

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Here's an update on the gruit I made.

The airlock activity has stopped. It's been exactly three days since the yeast were pitched. Refractometer gravity is 1.011 (corrected). The Ringwood Ale (Wyeast 1187) yeast fermented out very rapidly. I'll leave it for a diacetyl rest and have no intentions of racking it out of the fermenter over the next few weeks. I want it to age with the herbal muslin bag suspended in the beer.

I sampled the beer and was amazed! It tastes so clean. No off flavors. I taste no evidence of apples (acetaldehyde) or butter/butterscotch (diacetyl). The yeast flavor is pretty much gone. There's no heavy alcohol flavor (no fusel alcohols noticed). The flavors are very well integrated and balanced. The wormwood bitterness is not present, although part of the flavor profile. While there's residual sugar, it's not noticeable. I don't taste a malt-forward flavor. In fact, nothing presents itself more forward than anything else. The color is a hazy, medium to dark brown.

Nose: A complex mix of a beer scent with spice and alcohol. Faint roasted and citrus notes present.

Mouthfeel: Smooth but I don't notice anything appreciable. It may need to age and be carbonated for the mouthfeel to present more. I'm curious to see what head I get. Ringwood Ale is known for dropping out a good amount of yeast. I've read some fermentations result in reduced carbonation due to extensive yeast flocculation and fallout.

Taste: Beer with spices. The spice flavor is mild. I can discern with some effort the yarrow and chamomile. The spice flavor is coming from the juniper berries. The sweet gale is in there, but everything is so well balance and integrated, it's difficult to discern one flavor from another. They all blend together into a single, clean, and delicious final flavor. Shortly after swallowing, a light chocolate flavor is present. A minute or two after tasting, there's no cloying or astringent aftertaste. The aftertaste is almost like allspice with a mild bready, roasted finish.

I'm amazed... I really didn't expect to taste this to be as good as it is, and it's so young--three days old! It tastes like I could carbonate it now and drink it. It should mature and improve over time.

I'll keep ya'll posted!
 

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When I tried to order from wild weeds, they did run out on sweet gale. But they were very helpful and suggested alternative sources... Which unfortunately did not have some left either.

I purchased mine here :
http://www.bogmyrtle.com

Got it two days later!

Edit: got my wild rosemary from amazon UK... Found it nowhere else in the net. I am actually not quite sure if it is the real wild rosemary or "just" Labrador tea. The later is a different plant (native to America, wild rosemary is native to Europe) and has less of the interesting substances. Aroma should be nearly identical though.

Btw. Just had a nice pint of Heather ale :)
Yeah... I know the availability of herbs and stuff changes depending on what the woman can get at Wild Weeds. I called a few weeks ago and she had sweet gale, so I ordered 4 oz.

Is wild rosemary the same as marsh rosemary?

What's cool about herbal brewing is there are so many herbs out there! How you pair them and adjust the concentrations makes for endless possibilities. Getting some of these spices can be tricky though. Also, what do they all taste like? I've never tasted most of them. Makes for a bit more homework, ordering them, making teas, and tasting/blending them.

Fun! :ban:
 
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Here's an update on the gruit I made.

The airlock activity has stopped. It's been exactly three days since the yeast were pitched. Refractometer gravity is 1.011 (corrected). The Ringwood Ale (Wyeast 1187) yeast fermented out very rapidly. I'll leave it for a diacetyl rest and have no intentions of racking it out of the fermenter over the next few weeks. I want it to age with the herbal muslin bag suspended in the beer.

I sampled the beer and was amazed! It tastes so clean. No off flavors. I taste no evidence of apples (acetaldehyde) or butter/butterscotch (diacetyl). The yeast flavor is pretty much gone. There's no heavy alcohol flavor (no fusel alcohols noticed). The flavors are very well integrated and balanced. The wormwood bitterness is not present, although part of the flavor profile. While there's residual sugar, it's not noticeable. I don't taste a malt-forward flavor. In fact, nothing presents itself more forward than anything else. The color is a hazy, medium to dark brown.

Nose: A complex mix of a beer scent with spice and alcohol. Faint roasted and citrus notes present.

Mouthfeel: Smooth but I don't notice anything appreciable. It may need to age and be carbonated for the mouthfeel to present more. I'm curious to see what head I get. Ringwood Ale is known for dropping out a good amount of yeast. I've read some fermentations result in reduced carbonation due to extensive yeast flocculation and fallout.

Taste: Beer with spices. The spice flavor is mild. I can discern with some effort the yarrow and chamomile. The spice flavor is coming from the juniper berries. The sweet gale is in there, but everything is so well balance and integrated, it's difficult to discern one flavor from another. They all blend together into a single, clean, and delicious final flavor. Shortly after swallowing, a light chocolate flavor is present. A minute or two after tasting, there's no cloying or astringent aftertaste. The aftertaste is almost like allspice with a mild bready, roasted finish.

I'm amazed... I really didn't expect to taste this to be as good as it is, and it's so young--three days old! It tastes like I could carbonate it now and drink it. It should mature and improve over time.

I'll keep ya'll posted!
That sounds awesome! I am really looking forward to how it will turn out. I also really appreciate that you are tasting and recording the results in regular time steps, so we will see when it tasted best.

Wild and Marsh rosemary can be the same but sometimes they are not... People get confused with all the names, so do I :D
 

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Really like this thread. I brew very little beer but make mead and gruit herbs in mead can result in an incredible drink - At low ABVs this can compete hands down with session beers and ciders. I think that it is quite fascinating that the brewing world adopted hops as both the bittering agent and preservative for beer given the physiological effects that hops have on the body (fascinating but not surprising given the puritanical thrust of the Protestant Church in Europe) and utterly fascinating that beer drinkers hold up hops as the food of the gods...
 

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Really like this thread. I brew very little beer but make mead and gruit herbs in mead can result in an incredible drink - At low ABVs this can compete hands down with session beers and ciders. I think that it is quite fascinating that the brewing world adopted hops as both the bittering agent and preservative for beer given the physiological effects that hops have on the body (fascinating but not surprising given the puritanical thrust of the Protestant Church in Europe) and utterly fascinating that beer drinkers hold up hops as the food of the gods...
Hi Bernard!

I just think it's great that there are some of us that are open minded towards NOT using hops and exploring the rich and wonderful world that herbs provide. I love hops (but not the overly bitter nature, personally), but there is so much more to a beer's flavor profile that can be expressed using other adjuncts, such as herbs.

Are there any herbs you prefer or use regularly? Also, what herbal pairings do you find have worked for the gruits you've made?

-Paul
 
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Really like this thread. I brew very little beer but make mead and gruit herbs in mead can result in an incredible drink - At low ABVs this can compete hands down with session beers and ciders. I think that it is quite fascinating that the brewing world adopted hops as both the bittering agent and preservative for beer given the physiological effects that hops have on the body (fascinating but not surprising given the puritanical thrust of the Protestant Church in Europe) and utterly fascinating that beer drinkers hold up hops as the food of the gods...
Great to have you on board!

I wanted to experiment with lower alcohol gruit meads and wild fermentation in the near future. I also would like to know what's your favourite gruit combination?
 
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Really like this thread. I brew very little beer but make mead and gruit herbs in mead can result in an incredible drink - At low ABVs this can compete hands down with session beers and ciders. I think that it is quite fascinating that the brewing world adopted hops as both the bittering agent and preservative for beer given the physiological effects that hops have on the body (fascinating but not surprising given the puritanical thrust of the Protestant Church in Europe) and utterly fascinating that beer drinkers hold up hops as the food of the gods...
Oh, I frogot, and I very much agreee with both of you regarding hops.

It is quite hilarious that beer is associated automatically with hops und nothing else. I mean, I love the taste and sometimes the buzz of hops, but from a perspective of health and fitness, hops are pretty much the worst herb available. They pretty much contribute zero benefits regarding health but do have a lot of negative impacts, especially if you are a man. On the buzz side, they make you lazy and surpress sexual activity and drive, which is sometimes just a nice relaxation but in general... nooooo!

On the other hand, it can taste DAMN good. I love beer and especially the heavily hoped ones like IPA and NEIPA and Pilsener. BUT I am aware of the negative impact they do have, and I try to limit the intake accordingly. I will definetely try your lower ABV gruit meads to see if they are actually a good replacement for hopped beers.


Do you have a favourite recipe you would like to share?
 

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For a gallon I might use 1 tablespoon each of mugwort, bog myrtle and yarrow and perhaps a tablespoon of heather tips. I make a tea (boil for about 5 minutes and then allow the tea to cool by itself) with the herbs and dissolve about 1.5 lbs *of raw local wildflower honey or orange blossom honey with the cooled and strained tea. I might add to boiling tea 3 very, very ripe sliced bananas (skins and all) to increase the mouthfeel. I like the flavors that Saison Belle yeast highlight and produce with this but any wine yeast (71B or D47 for example) is good. You want to use Fermaid O or K, honey having no nutrients for the yeast, or Whitelabs wine (or beer) nutrient. I generally ferment this in a water bath heated with an aquarium heater so that the water temp is about 78F. Honey ain't grain and the FG will drop below 1.000 so you want to use a rich flavored honey to balance the dryness. If you prefer though you can stabilize this with K-meta and K-sorbate once the yeast become dormant (or you have racked the mead off the yeast after repeated cold chilling) and then backsweeten with added honey or sugar (sweetening also increases the mouthfeel - makes the mead more viscous so it tends to coat your mouth as it slips down...).
*If 1 lb of honey dissolved in water to make a gallon has a gravity of about 1.035 then this has a gravity of about 1.050 or a potential ABV of about 6.5% - you use more honey the ABV rises but the time needed to age increases too - at 6.5% ABV you can be enjoying this 6-8 weeks after pitching the yeast).
 
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