Gruit: a herb mixture used for bittering and flavoring beer, popular before the extensive use of hops. Gruit or grut ale may also refer to the beverage produced using gruit. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gruit)
All sorts of herbs were used to flavour gruit – bog myrtle, sweet fern, bay leaves, heather, spruce tips, juniper, wormwood, ginger, yarrow, the list goes on and on.
Many Hands Pale Ale has been out annual collaboration with our friends at North Brewing in Halifax, a beer made with freshly picked hops.
This year we decided we might mix it up a little and use some classic gruit botanicals and supplement the brew with freshly picked wet hops.
We searched around and thanks to Rozina at North Brewing we were able to source Sweet Fern leaves, Bayberry leaves and berries, and Sweet Gale (Bog Myrtle) berries. Rosina also found us freshly picked Crystal, Cascade, Willamette, and Mount Hood hops.
On brew day we got off to a bit of a late start, but Emily fixed us up with some hi-test. We don’t mess around when it comes to coffee. Luckily, we’ve got Just-Us! on speed dial.
Peter and Josh arrived a bit late in the brew-day so we decided to mash the while they were en route from the city. They arrived just before the transfer to the kettle, so a quick conference was held to make final decisions on what to do with the fresh gruit herbs and hops. Before we knew what was happening Emily dumped a load of Willamette hops and bayberry berries into the mash. Well she had some influence from our visiting brewers…
The aromas coming from the mash tun were unreal! All that bayberry and hops in the hot mash was awesome, and was increased during the sparge. Sparging is when we shower the mash with hot water to rinse all the sugars from the grain. The heat from the spare water was working wonders on the hops.
We brewed Many Hands Mk5 with some fantastic and unexpected ingredients that day. For all th beer geeks out there, we decided to reveal the final recipe, which looked like this: (for a 15 HL batch)
Water: 1250L strike water (74°C) plus 1200L sparge water (80°C)
Horton Ridge Organic 2-row, 375 kg, Horton Ridge Organic Munich 25 kg, Weyermann Vienna Malt: 50 kg
Amylase rest: 80 minutes at 67°C
Hops & Herbs:
In Mash: Freshly picked Willamette: 3 kg Bayberry berries: 1 kg
30 minute additions:
10 minute additions:
60 minutes total boil time
Yeast: American Ale II
Ferment: 21°C for 12 days plus 2 days rest
Cheers to you! Thanks for a great brew day.
Update: The beer is fermenting along rather well. Some fantastic herbal notes in there along with the unmistakable wet hop character. Can’t wait!