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Post by gruitime » Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:18 am

I suppose Gruit would fall under this category?

I just made my first gallon of gruit, but sort of came up with my own recipe, based on what was around (currently Im in the Balkans). It was also my first all grain.

Camomille, ginger, mountain tea (" onclick=";return false;), coriander, fennel, sage, some orange peel zest and honey.
The grains were from the market - also made a dark crystal malt, and a light one. Malting was my favourite part of the process.

Guessed with the proportions.
Cleaned equipment with dish soap, did not sanitize at this stage, as I could only find blue bleach like cleaner with perfume odor.

I bottled today, and am looking at abv of about 3.5%, maybe a bit higher after priming. (OG 1035, FG 1008) Probably should have boiled wort longer, or sparged more efficiently.
I did sanitize today, with some sort of balkan bleach, but its transparent and no perfume.

The brew tastes good, but would caution that camomille has a very strong presence, so go easy. Nice dark colour, sweet herbal taste. I drank a cup of the leftover without carbonation, and it tasted uniquely delicous. Will see in a week how it turns out after carbonation.

Did not log any details, but fermented for about a week.

Why gruit? Couldnt find hops. In the process, discovered that hops are high in estrogen and were traditionally used to put people to sleep. Based on this, I will continue to brew gruit ales, and leave out the hops.

So far, so good!

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Re: Gruit

Post by LiverDance » Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:23 am

Very cool stuff. We had some really tasty gruit from Earth Eagle Brewing on oa trip to Maine this past summer. The brewer was really nice and excited to talk about his products.
"Twenty years ago — a time, by the way, that hops such as Simcoe and Citra were already being developed, but weren’t about to find immediate popularity — there wasn’t a brewer on earth who would have gone to the annual Hop Growers of American convention and said, “I’m going to have a beer that we make 4,000 barrels of, one time a year. It flies off the shelf at damn near $20 a six-pack, and you know what it smells like? It smells like your cat ate your weed and then pissed in the Christmas tree.” - Bell’s Brewery Director of Operations John Mallet on the scent of their popular Hopslam.

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Re: Gruit

Post by jason.loxton » Tue Mar 03, 2015 6:32 pm

Interesting. I had never heard anything about the estrogenic properties of beer. (As an aside, it looks like congener in other alcohols also have estrogenic effects.) I did a little looking around the Internet, and almost all of the websites touting a heath risk seem pretty sketchy. This short review (admittedly from a brewing industry periodical) notes that the consumption level required to reach the effective does used in various animal studies would be something like 1000 l of beer a day, and that beer consumption results in just a tiny fraction of the phytochemical dose of the soy-based Asian diet, which does produce not negative reproductive health outcomes:

"SUMMARY: Phytoestrogens, compounds occurring in plants, can have an influence on the human hormone system due to an interaction with the receptor for 17-β-estradiol. As a result, positive effects on health are being postulated (prevention of cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases, use in hormone replacement therapy) and negative effects (e.g. on reproductivity) discussed. Hops contains 8-prenylnaringenin, one of the most effective phytoestrogens hitherto known. However, the levels, less than 0.01 %, are very low. Traces of 8-prenylnaringenin found in beer can be traced back to hop raw materials. Most samples analysed had concentrations below 0.02 mg/l. Conclusions drawn from studies of various groups of researchers are in agreement that beer consumption has no hormonal effect, despite the presence of the low concentration of components with an estrogenic activity."
< ... I_2004.pdf>.

A couple of other studies I found that gave a specific comment on beer:

Milligan et al, 2002: Oestrogenic activity of the hop phyto-oestrogen, 8-prenylnaringenin. Reproduction.
"The female flowers of the hop plant (hop cones) are used as a preservative and as a flavouring agent in beer. A novel phyto-oestrogen, 8-prenylnaringenin, was recently identified in hops and this study was undertaken to characterize the oestrogenic activity of this compound using a combination of in vitro and in vivo assays...The high oestrogenic activity was confirmed in an acute in vivo test using uterine vascular permeability as an end point. When the compound was given to ovariectomized mice in their drinking water, oestrogenic stimulation of the vaginal epithelium required concentrations of 100 µg ml–1 (about 500-fold greater than can be found in any beer)."

Promberger et al., 2001: Determination of estrogenic activity in beer by biological and chemical means. J Agric Food Chem. <>.
"It has been suspected that beer drinking may change the hormonal status of men caused by phytoestrogens. Five different Austrian lager beers have been investigated for estrogenic activity by a yeast two-plasmid system harboring the human estrogen receptor alpha, after concentration by solid phase extraction. The beer concentrate was further fractionated by reversed phase HPLC, and then the fractions were characterized by the biological assay and GC-MS. The most potent fraction did not contain a known phytoestrogen. The total activity corresponded to an average of 43 ng of 17beta-estradiol/L of beer. It was concluded that the human health hazard of beer drinking originating from compounds activity on the estrogen receptor alpha is negligible."

Milligan et al., 1999: Identification of a potent phytoestrogen in hops (Humulus lupulus L.) and beer. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. <>.
"The female flowers of the hop plant are used as a preservative and as a flavoring agent in beer. However, a recurring suggestion has been that hops have a powerful estrogenic activity and that beer may also be estrogenic. In this study, sensitive and specific in vitro bioassays for estrogens were used for an activity-guided fractionation of hops via selective solvent extraction and appropriate HPLC separation. We have identified a potent phytoestrogen in hops, 8-prenylnaringenin, which has an activity greater than other established plant estrogens. The estrogenic activity of this compound was reflected in its relative binding affinity to estrogen receptors from rat uteri. The presence of 8-prenylnaringenin in hops may provide an explanation for the accounts of menstrual disturbances in female hop workers. This phytoestrogen can also be detected in beer, but the levels are low and should not pose any cause for concern."

I suppose it might be unwise to drink a six pack of Pliny the Younger everyday (if it were bottled), but I think we're probably safe (and maybe even benifitng) from our hop love!

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Re: Gruit

Post by GasMD30 » Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:04 pm

I would love to see a "recipe" of this. Sounds like a wonderful combination of aromas!
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Re: Gruit

Post by Celiacbrew » Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:15 pm

Sounds interesting. Do you have plans to branch out beyond herbs? There are a few breweries that make spruce beers. You could probably even get some bitterness from it.

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Re: Gruit

Post by gruitime » Wed Mar 04, 2015 5:45 am

I will continue to try brewing with whatever flavourings/ bitterings I can find, and for now only in 1 gallon batches. Im far from a pro at this point, just rather curious, with a love of beer! As for the hops, I still drink regular beer, but since I cant locate any hops where I am right now (no HBS stores) unless I can get them direct from a brewery, this is the course of action for now! Where I am in the balkans, there are so many different herbs Ive never seen before, and so cheap too! Spruce should be a good one, I know for the teas you pick the new buds in the spring, so the time is getting near for that! Ive tried Garrison's spruce, and was worth while. I have lots of bayberry bushes on my property in NS, and will look to try something with them at some point. This week Ill use rosehips, they grow everywhere and if it works, I can brew it in when in NS, they are everywhere in the fall! Also interested in trying to brew a Haskap ale later this spring, it has been done already with success, and I have some growing at home...apparently under several feet of snow!! ... h.html.php" onclick=";return false;

Anyone have any experience bittering without hops?

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Re: Gruit

Post by darciandjenn » Wed Mar 04, 2015 9:32 am

I thought this was a pretty good read: ... sting.html" onclick=";return false;

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Re: Gruit

Post by gruitime » Tue Mar 31, 2015 6:37 am

So the first batch is gone, and it went it was only a gallon. The second batch is done, also a gallon, and the results have been good as well. Not necessarily great, but good indeed. This time, I left out completely the camommile. Here is the recipe and notes:

Monster of the Lake, Unhopped Ale

All grain, all organic

.5 kilo light crystal malt (home made)
2 kilo malt (home made)
4 g ginger
7 g coriander (maybe too much)
3 g fennel (maybe too much)
2g cistus incanus (i had a bag on hand, so why not)
small handful of dried linden leaves ( i think this brings out some red colour)
large handful of mountain tea ( this brings out a dark colour" onclick=";return false;)
mandarine zest & dried peels
250 g honey (i didnt get great efficiency from the grains, from not having a this was to supplement the sugars)
5 liters mountain water
about 1 spoon of bakers yeast

Strike temp of grains 72 C (grains were mashed in a cheese cloth, Beer in bag style)
Hold at 62 C for 1 hour

1-2 liter sparge

OG - 1045
FG - 1010
ABV - around 4.5

Fermented for 10 days at around 15-18 C
Bottled on 10th day
1/5 cup honey to prime bottles
Made 12 small bottles + 1 half liter bottle
First bottle slightly carbonated after 4 days

Reddish brown cloudy colour
Strong Coriander flavour
Slightly sour, but not too sour
Gets better with each sip
Refreshing and fairly clean tasting

Definitely worth a try, the ingredients still need to be adjusted, but it sure feels like a healthy brew!!!

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