I love non-traditional beers and wines. Several years ago I read about gruit ales and other older styles of beer that have gone away with the advent of hops being used in beer. This is my third gruit ale, the first that has used these particular spices.
The original recipe came from gruitale.com. I modified it a little to make it my own.
Licorice Root, Sage, Wormwood Gruit Ale
OG – 1.064
Pot. ABV – 8.5%
4 oz Culinary Sage
1/8-1/4 oz Wormwood
2 oz Licorice Root
1 lb Pilsner DME
1 lb Amber DME
3.3 lbs Amber Liquid Malt Extract
4 lbs Brown Sugar
Sufale US-05 Yeast
1 small muslin mesh bag
1 large muslin mesh bag
Fill your brew kettle with about 1.5 gallons of water and begin heating it to 160 degrees.
In the small muslin mesh bag, fill with 1 oz of sage, tie it off and set it to the side.
In the large muslin mesh bag fill it with the rest of the sage, licorice root, and wormwood. The exact measurement of wormwood depends on how bitter you want your beer. I used about a handful (ping pong ball size). Tie the bag off and steep in the hot water for 1 hour. Essentially you are making a hot tea.
Remove the bag and let it drain into the pot. Most directions tell you not to press the bag, the reason is simply to reduce the amount of floaties in the beer. Bring up the heat to high.
Start adding the extracts and the sugar. I prefer to add 1 pound of dry extract at a time and let it dissolve completely before adding the next ingredient. It’s not necessary to bring the wort to a boil, but I prefer to in order to kill off any bacteria.
Cool the wort to 80 degrees. I cool it to around 100 while in the brew kettle, and then pour it into my primary fermenter. I add cold water until it’s at about 5.25 gallons at which point the wort will be at the right temperature to pitch the yeast.
Drop the small bag of sage into the primary and push it down below the surface so it can steep during fermentation. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the wort.
The gruit ale should ferment the same way as any other brew. I generally ferment in the primary for 1 week, secondary for 1 week, bottle for 1 week, then drink.
Update: Primary fermentation ended up taking 2 weeks, secondary 1 week, 1 week to carbonate. Final Gravity: 1.017, 6.25%ABV. It’s deliciously delicious.