group gruit

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group gruit

Postby aleguy » Sat Dec 08, 2007 1:56 pm

Last meeting we were discussing doing a group-gruit brew-up at Marcelo's. I think it's a brilliant idea. I don't know what the problem is if Kevin can't get the gruit ingredients. Do we have to have all the ingredients donated? If there's a problem getting this thing going let us know. I'm sure we can find a way to make it happen.
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Postby yeastmeister » Sat Dec 08, 2007 3:38 pm

I'm working to find the ingredients we need at reasonable prices.... I can find them all, but the cost comes in well above hops, something around $20 bucks for a 5 gallon batch.

Feel free to research some gruit recipes, make a suggestion or 2 as to what you feel would be good to brew, and see if you can locate a reasonable source for the herbs.

I'm continuing to look, so far, I've found everything at wildweeds, but the price is crazy.
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Postby GuitarLord5000 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 6:12 pm

Wow, sounds like a good idea. Any chance you guys will be posting the recipe?

What herbs are you going to use? There's the obvious choices of course. Yarrow, Sweet Gale and Marsh Rosemary. However, theres literally a whole plethora of other possible herbs to use. I'd like to try Mugwort or Wormwood for bittering, personally.

Anyhow, let us know how it turns out!
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Postby yeastmeister » Sat Dec 08, 2007 6:29 pm

I'm still researching the recipe, lots of stuff on the internet. I'm thinking something more along the historic lines, as opposed to the modern versions that I see.

Lots of misinformation out there as to the health hazards with some of them. Most of it has been debunked by modern science as far as I can tell.

I've already got my hands on yarrow and wormwood. The Sweet Gale and Marsh Rosemary are what I am having trouble locating inexpensively. I'm not real keen on going with the recommended replacements for each, I'd rather keep it historical.

I've got a couple of recipes that look promising, but I'd honestly like to see some others input before I reveal them.
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Postby GuitarLord5000 » Mon Dec 10, 2007 4:05 pm

Out of curiosity, what would the base beer style be? Will you be shooting for a higher starting gravity? Will there be other fermentables, such as honey or molasses? From a pure historical standpoint, I think it would be wise to try for a high gravity type beer. Since there will be no hops to help preserve the beer, a higher alcohol content would aid in that.
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Postby yeastmeister » Mon Dec 10, 2007 5:03 pm

Yep, I'd like to try and keep it as historical as possible. I agree with the higher alcohol to help with keeping the nastys under control. My understanding is that hops became so popular with brewers because it covers all the bases, being aromatic, bittering, antiseptic, and medicinal. Besides hops, I have only been able to locate (via google) 4 other plants that have all those characteristics:
Angelica,
Wormwood,
Juniper (berries),
Oregano...

I've got the wormwood on hand, so that should cover that base, however wormwood is known to be extremely bitter, so it can't be used too much without having a very sweet base. I've got access to the other if needed, but I don't think I'm very keen on a juniper gruit.... :(

As I said, I've got a couple of recipies if noone else wants to start one. I'm trying to get up some group discussion by not revealing one. I'm not set in any way, but I'd like to stick with the historic herbs if possible.
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Postby GuitarLord5000 » Mon Dec 10, 2007 6:00 pm

So, if you use Wormwood as a bittering agent, what would you be using for flavor and aromatics? I have seen a few older recipes for gruit that used flower petals (most commonly rose petals) for aroma, and they are said to give a very nice, delicate flavor also. These shouldn't be too difficult to find around our area. You could probably substitute the rose petals for either the Sweet Gale or the Wild Rosemary in a pinch, with no negative historical issues. Perhaps an ounce or two at the last 10 minutes of the boil?
Also, Heather could be used for a flavoring agent. I've seen this in some recipes, but dont know exactly what to expect taste-wise from a Heather Ale.
I hope it turns out good, and keep me posted!

Dave
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Postby yeastmeister » Mon Dec 10, 2007 11:13 pm

Yep, I've found sweet gale, but I have been unable to find wild rosemary in stock. At least, I haven't found eather one at a reasonable price. I'm trying to not break the clubs bank.

I haven't tried any heather ale, but I have been informed by people that have tried it, that it isn't that great.

I personally like rose petals, I have a rose flavored vodka that I really like (although small amounts are a necessarity, otherwise it overtakes everything), but I seem to be the only one around my friends that find it an acceptable flavor in things.

Keep up the discussion, thats what I am trying to promote. If you can find any of the other two ingredients at a reasonable price for bulk, post it.
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Postby GuitarLord5000 » Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:49 am

Well, its difficult to find Sweet Gale for a good price. And finding Wild Rosemary is near impossible, apart from Wildweeds. However, if you wanted to try a few OTHER herbs, you can give this place a shot:
http://www.herbco.com/bulk_herbs/bulk-herbs-ab.php
And here is a list of some of the herbs you can find for use in gruit:
Calamus Root
Yarrow Flower
Mugwort
Motherwort
Dandelion Root
Lemon Balm
Hyssop
Birch Bark
White Oak Bark
Sweet Grass

And they are very reasonably priced, with most of these herbs coming in at $2 or under for 4 ounces.
I believe that this place has a $20 minimum order, or else you'd be charged an additional $5 (before I'd let myself be charged the extra dough, I'd definately add some more herbs to my order).
Hope some of this helps.

Dave
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Postby aleguy » Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:13 pm

According to my source (Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephan Harrod Buhner), wild rosemary is virtually impossible to find in the new world, but we do have two other options, both of which are likely available and have been used in gruit recipes in the past. the first is Ledum groenlandica which is closely related to Ledum palustre or wild rosemary. the second, Ledum glandulosum, also known as Labrador tea. Buhner goes on to say that all three of the base herbs for gruit need to be as fresh as possible as they lose potency fairly rapidly with age.
All three herbs can be used alone as well as with additional gruit herbs. By the way, Yarrow meets all the requirements you posted, and the reason for gruit's downfall appears to have more to do with the protestant reformation than with any superiority of hops. Not that I have anything whatsoever against hops.
The book lists several dozen various recipes for traditional, hopless, ales. some of the more interesting from a price standpoint are the Sage ale, Nettle beer and Ground Ivy beer. The Sage ale could be done very cheaply if someone has abundant sage in their garden. I would nix the two ounces of licorice root (Glycorhiza glabra) because it would make the beer way too sweet.
Ground Ivy grows abundantly around here this time of year, and the three ingredients for nettle beer (Dandelion leaves, nettle leaves and burdock root) shouldn't be hard to forage either.
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Postby yeastmeister » Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:27 pm

Cool, great information.

If thats true about the base herbs needing to be fresh, then that pretty much eliminates any possibility of ordering them from anywhere. Everything I have seen is dried, and probably been stored for months in some unknown environment prior to being sold.

Of course, fresh is a relative term....does he elaborate on dried herbs at all?

Do any of the recipes not contain any of the hard to find ingredients? I've got some yarrow as well, although I don't know how "fresh" it is....
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Postby GuitarLord5000 » Tue Dec 11, 2007 4:12 pm

I can't imagine needing "fresh" herbs for a gruit. I would think that using green herbs for beermaking would lend a very grassy taste to anything brewed. Much the same as using green, undried hops would. In any case, trying to find all these herbs, undried, in South Louisiana would very probably be a lesson in futility anyway.
Also, I wouldn't stress over obtaining Sweet Gale or Wild Rosemary, if the cost is too prohibitive. Gruit-making was never an exact science, and the differences in recipes varied greatly from one brewhouse to another. I dont think it can be done "wrong", so far as the finished liquor is drinkable.
Why not create something unique to the DeadYeast Society? That would be fun, experimental, and more in the spirit of gruit-making IMHO.
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Postby aleguy » Tue Dec 11, 2007 5:47 pm

I'm sorry about the confusion, He says fresh or recently dried for the bog myrtle and wild rosemary, the yarrow should be okay as long as it hasn't turned brown. If it is still green and aromatic I would say it's still good to use for beer or for wound healing for that matter.
I think we could pull off the nettle beer or the sage beer, though at my local Albertson's fresh sage sells for $1.99 per 2/3 ounce, so unless we can get four ounces from someone's garden, it would cost more than hops. The ground ivy beer only requires ground ivy, and I've seen alot of it around lately.
There is a recipe for calendula beer, but I'm a little leary of the flavor.
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Postby Imakewort » Tue Dec 11, 2007 8:28 pm

I understand intellectually why someone would want to make a historical beer like Gruit, but there is a reason why nobody made it after Hops were discovered, so what is the point?
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Postby GuitarLord5000 » Wed Dec 12, 2007 12:03 am

The truth is, hops were discovered many hundreds of years before gruit production died out. The earliest known written account of a "stong drink made from hops" came from the Jewish who were captive in Babylon (around 500 BC). To put it in perspective, the German Purity Law didnt come around until 1516. In fact, hops were used in Gruit production (though not as the sole herb) for quite some time.
There are reasons why Hops have taken the place of Gruit, though they have nothing to do with taste. Church politics was the largest factor in the demise of Gruit. There are many resources to be found online if you would like to research it further.
As for the point? As a homebrewer, I am able to experiment to a much larger degree than a giant brewery. Gruit herbs are just another tool in the ole toolbox. While I doubt that anyone is going to throw away their supply of hops and start a 'gruit garden', I see no reason to let myself be limited to hops only.
Anyway, just my $.02.

Dave
Last edited by GuitarLord5000 on Sun Apr 19, 2009 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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