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What is Gruit Ale?

Centuries ago it would have seemed odd to consider using only one herb to spice beer. Dozens of plants, such as bog myrtle, yarrow, mugwort, heather, and juniper were commonly used in ancient brewing, providing beer makers with a wide array of aromatic and flavourful options. These beers were known as Gruit or Grut (German for herb), and a brewers’ spice blend was a proprietary and carefully guarded secret. However, after the Reinheitsgebot (Bavarian Purity Act of 1516) ordered that only hops were to be used to spice beer, and the Bavarian style of brewing took hold in most of Europe, the Gruit Ale gradually faded into obscurity.

Luckily, several craft breweries have rediscovered this ancient form of brewing. Craft brewing is based on the notion that beer should not be limited by the conventional norm – that beer should be about discovery and experimentation, and Gruit Ales are one of the best examples of this pioneering spirit.

"Beau's has made a name for itself with gruits since the brewery introduced Bog Water in 2008, which is made with bog myrtle harvested by an Algonquin native from the wilds of northern Quebec instead of hops." —Ottawa Citizen, Jan. 30, 2014

"In a craft-beer market quickly exhausting the model of bolder, boozier brews, some breweries are setting themselves apart by getting old-fashioned." The Grid Magazine Toronto, Feb. 8, 2013