Sunday, April 27, 2008

Yummy gruit

With rising hop prices, brewers have been looking to find other non-traditional bittering and aroma agents, such as heather, lavender, rosemary and pine sprigs, or gruit. These and other similar herbs have been used in lieu of hops in Scandinavian countries and Scotland for centuries, and their beers have seen a resurgent in recent years, irregardless (that's a word, right?) of hop prices.

So I picked up a bottle of Alba Scots Pine Ale, from Heather Ale Ltd. out of Scotland. From their website:

Introduced by the Vikings, spruce and pine ales were very popular in the Scottish Highlands until the end of the 19th century. Many early explorers, including Captain Cook, used spruce ale during long sea voyages since it prevented scurvy and ill health. Shetland spruce ale was said to "stimulate animal instincts" and give you twins. Alba is a triple style ale brewed to a traditional Highland recipe from Scots pine and spruce shoots pickled during early spring. Pure malted barley is boiled with the young sprigs of pine for several hours then the fresh shoots of the spruce are added for a short infusion before fermentation.

It was pretty darn good--not piney at all, but sweet and malty, almost Scottish ale. I'm excited to try other beers with herb mixtures. Gruit, here I come!


ryan said...

Use caution, my friend. I made a gruit recipe from BYO a year or two ago and it was awful. IIRC, lavender, gale, myrtle and juniper berries were in the recipe. Yuck.

Flo said...

When did you try that beer? I don't remember you having any more "animal instincts" than usual...