Monday, February 4, 2013

Gruit: It Tastes Better Than It Sounds

Gruit: it sounds like "fruit" but with a G.

While the name might not sound pleasing to the hear, gruit is actually quite nice. It's a mixture of herbs that is added to beer to provide flavour and was used more commonly before hops were introduced to the beer-making process. Ivy, heather, juniper, and ginger are just some of the herbs that were traditionally added for flavouring.

A couple of weeks ago, I tried some Scottish ales that used such herbs, and they were delicious.

The first time I learned of and tried a gruit ale was more than a year ago, when I reviewed a wonderful brew called Bog Water from Beau's All Natural Brewing Company. I wasn't giving beer any ratings back then, but that gruit, which uses sweet gale, a wild bog myrtle, that grows naturally near the brewery, would have rated between 4 and 5 out of 5.

It was that good.

This year, for its feBREWary celebrations, Beau's started off with another gruit.
Oiseau de Nuit Pumpkin Gruit
Beau's All Natural Brewing Company
Vankleek Hill, ON
5.1% ABV
Beer O'Clock rating: 4/5
Colour: clear, deep apricot, copper; a white head that dissipates quickly

Nose: ginger, buckwheat honey, clove, light pumpkin

Taste: mild hops, light spice, light finish

Overall notes: this is an easy-drinking ale that I could sip all afternoon long. I had the pleasure of enjoying it on International Gruit Day, on Friday. I'm glad I didn't wait. But I would have liked to have tasted a little more body on this ale, a little more pumpkin. I loved Bog Water and I especially loved the Weiss O'Lantern Pumpkin Wheat Ale. I was hoping for a blend of the two: this fell slightly short.

Because Beau's is planning a series of one-offs for this month, get to a pub to try some of the Pumpkin Gruit before it's gone. Beau's Web site provides a list of establishments that carries these beers.


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