Gruit ales were the beers predominantly brewed
in medieval Europe. The ingredients in a gruit ale were limited
only by whatever herbs, plants and spices a brewer could obtain
locally or through trade, and each brewer's recipe for gruit ale
was a closely guarded secret. However, most gruit ales had three
common ingredients - bog myrtle (also called sweet or Myrica
gale), yarrow and marsh (or wild) rosemary. (WARNING: SOME OR
ALL OF THESE PLANTS ARE CONSIDERED TOXIC AND ARE NO LONGER
RECOMMENDED FOR CONSUMPTION.) Because of these particular
plants, gruit ales were highly intoxicating and aphrodisiacal
and could even be psychotropic and slightly narcotic when
consumed in sufficient quantities. Gruit ales were a favorite of
the Catholic clergy, so they greatly diminished in popularity as
the Protestant movement against the Catholic Church swept
through Europe. Today, hops are the primary plant used in
1 gallon water
1-3/4 pounds pale malt
1-1/2 pounds crystal malt
1-1/2 grams bog myrtle
1-1/2 grams marsh rosemary
1-1/2 grams yarrow
Mash in at 170ºF. Use just enough water to
create a stiff mash.
Cover the mash and let it rest for 3 hours.
Sparge the grains with water at 170ºF until
a total of 1 gallon of water is acquired.
Boil the wort and herbs for 90 minutes.
Cool the wort to 70ºF then strain it into a
fermenter and pitch the yeast.
Allow the beer to ferment completely then
bottle and condition for 4 months before drinking.