Rock Art Brewery: A River Runs Gruit

ABV: 5.2%

IBU: 0

Availability: Rotating

@untappd says: 3.66/5

I am Gruit on the Windowsill today!

When I first saw this beer at Rock Art Brewery in Morrisville, VT, I thought to myself; what the hell is a gruit ale? Well, luckily, American Craft Beer had the answer for me. The word gruit, or grut, is German for herb. A gruit is any brew that uses an herbal mixture for flavoring or bittering instead of hops. Back in the day, gruits dominated the beer market, but around the 15th or 16th centuries, their popularity ended. Why? For one, German beer purity laws—they passed in 1516 and stated that beers could only contain water, barley and hops—made it a no no (or “nein nein”) to make anything resembling a gruit. It’s also believed that religious conservatism helped bury the style, as many of the herbs used back then were aphrodisiacs. Can’t have a bunch of horny drunks running around now, can we? Thankfully, microbreweries started popularizing the style again in the 1990s.

A River Runs Gruit is a cleverly named—great shout out to the classic novel, and eventual Brad Pitt film—is an ale brewed with herbs, chamomile, rose hips, elderberry and lavender. The lavender and chamomile stood out the most for me. Overall, this brew was a very weird experience. Thankfully, I like weird. I love that this ancient style, which seemingly has endless possibilities for herb combinations and flavorings, is making its comeback. This one was very flowery and tasty, once I got through the hop-less weirdness of it all. I dug it!

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