Gruit ale is ale
that is flavored with herbs and/or spices rather than hops. It is
usually kept "raw", or unpasteurized. Hops act as a preservative, as
does pasteurization, so that gruit ale is not an ale that will keep
well, and is best consumed shortly after it has reached the amount of
alcohol and degree of carbonation desired.
• 1 pint of yeast
(This will yield about 2 gallons
of ale, with about a quart left over to serve as starter for the next
• 1 pound of
• 1 1/2 pounds
• 8 quarts of
• 1 teaspoon
cream of tartar
• 1/2 cup malt
• 1 cup of gruit
• 3 Tablespoons sugar
of a starter is best practice. It is best obtained from the sediment
from your previous batch. If this is your first brew, you can use a
tablespoon of dry yeast instead, but understand that fermentation may
take longer and there is a greater risk of contamination, although
contamination is not a big problem with ale that is drunk shortly after
it is made. Use the sediment from this ale as the starter for the next
batch. You can choose whether you want to make the starter first, which
is basically a small batch of ale, anyway, or make the ale first and
then take the next starter from that. See Harvesting
Wild Yeast if you would like to start with an
airborne yeast or for other sources of yeast.
**As long as you live in an area where the water
is safe to drink and pleasant tasting, you can use water from the tap.
(see Home Brewing box below for
sources for ordering supplies online)
1.) Mix a
pound of malt extract with 1 quart of water until
dissolved (heating in a non-metallic saucepan stirring with a wooden
spoon will make it easier) and pour into a 3-gallon container.
(See below to order malt extract
(barley malt syrup) online.)
2.) Make a sugar
syrup by putting a quart of water in 1
1/2 pounds of sugar in a
non-metallic saucepan and bring to boil over high heat, until sugar is
dissolved. Continue to simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat and
add to the malt liquid mixture and stir in
3.) Put 1
teaspoon of cream of tartar in a quart of cool water and stir until
dissolved. Add to mix.
4.) Mix 1/2
cup of flour,
some of which should be malt flour (a commercial bread flour mix with
malt flour in it is OK) with another quart of water and add to mixture.
and add a gruit. A
gruit is a cup of herbal tea, with or without the plant material in it.
It will add flavoring and sometimes frothiness to the ale. There are
dozens of different herbs that can be used, based on what you like and
have available. Ground ivy is a classic ale
flavoring also known as "alehoof". It is widespread in Europe and North
America, where it is commonly found as a lawn weed. Any herbal teas you
like can be used.
your chosen herbs and whole spices, or herbal tea, into a ceramic
teapot. There are no fixed amounts, but around 3 tablespoons of spice
or tea, or 1 cup of green plant material, should suffice. Pour a cup of
boiling water over it and cover the pot. When it has steeped for
several hours or overnight, add it to the brew. Optionally, you can
just add the spice when your drink or serve the beverage
after it is made.
6.) As long as
the liquid has cooled to tepid or lukewarm, add the starter
Cover the 3-gallon container with an airlock. This is something that
will keep bugs out but lets gas escape. A piece of plastic secured with
a sturdy rubber band, or any other form of elastic, will do.
Put in a
warm place, maintaining a temperature of 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can brew in glass, but I
carbonate everything in plastic soda pop bottles. The advantages to
this are that plastic doesn't risk accidentally exploding, sending long
pieces of sharp, pointy glass into your flesh, and it's easier to check
on carbonation by squeezing a plastic bottle. If you intend to bottle
in glass, pack them in sand to reduce the risk of explosion.
Squeeze bottle(s) to check if ale is carbonated. When plastic feels firm and
cannot be squeezed, ale is carbonated.
This bottle is not ready to
within 2 or 3 days for optimal nutritional value. (Real ale is a good
source of C and B vitamins, complete protein and digestive enzymes).
May be refrigerated.
Wheat and barley are the commonest ingredients
used to make ale in Western cultures, but you can make ale out of
anything with sugar or starch in it. Poor
Richard's Ale and Raw
Corn Beer are examples of ale made with corn, and Roots
Beer is an ale made with potatoes, carrots and