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 GruitColour: clear, deep apricot, copper; a white head that dissipates quickly
Beau's All Natural Brewing Company
Vankleek Hill, ON
Beer O'Clock rating: 4/5
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.