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Safe Gruit ingredient amounts

I am brewing my second Gruit Ale tomorrow and got my hands on some Marsh Rosemary from wildweeds.com. I am trying to create an ale that will use enough of the ingredients (marsh rosemary, yarrow, and myrica gale) to be effective in flavoring but also safe to drink without too many adverse effects from the wild herbs. I’ve found quite a few opinions by checking past posts and as we all know…“If it’s on the Internet, it must be true.” However, working in the field of science, albeit social science, I would like to know if there is any literature or resources that will help me to create a safe yet flavorful gruit recipe. I trust the brewers on this site more than any other. If it helps, my schedule for the herbs is as follows:

?? grams marsh rosemary @ 60
?? grams yarrow @ 60

?? grams marsh rosemary @ 30
?? grams yarrow @ 30

2 grams Myrica gale @ 10
.5 oz Sweet Orange Peel @5
.5 oz Licorice Root @5

2 tspn cinnamon @5

As always, opinion on the additions are always welcomed.

J

If you are interested in gruit/herbal beers, I would suggest getting yourself a copy of The Homebrewer’s Garden. It offers numerous herbs used over many ages of brewing, with recipes and suggestions for amounts to use, as well as a description of the kind of flavor/aroma contributions you can expect from the herb. Yarrow is included here, with the suggestion being to use 1/2 oz. early in the boil for mild, sage-like bittering. Yarrow is usually considered safe in brewing, but can give hay-fever like allergic reactions in susceptible people. I’ve used as much as 2 oz. in my own brews. You can get a similar sage-like bitterness with dandelion root, too.

Also, Ray Daniel’s book, Radical Brewing, has a section on gruits and herbal brewing. He notes which traditional gruit herbs he would use and those he would not. Of note is that he does not recommend the use of marsh rosemary. Not only does he consider marsh rosemary inferior to bog myrtle (aka sweet gale, myrica gale), but it is not viewed as safe for internal consumption. He uses mugwort, bog myrtle, and other herbs in his gruit recipe. I’ve used 2 grams of bog myrtle in herb beers and found it not too tannic.

I’ve used licorice root in both porters and in my homemade root beer–1/4 oz. in the porter per 5 gal recipe, and between 1/4-1/2 oz. in a 1 gal root beer recipe. I much prefer the licorice root to sweet anise in the flavor it gives-- the licorice root being much more delicate and adding a nuanced background sweetness that is quite nice.

Another resource for you in herbal brewing would be Sacred Herbal and Healing Beers–a historical look at brewing with recipes included.

Hope this helps. I know there are others here who could chime in, too.

Alewife

I would use less than 10 grams of yarrow and rosemary in 5 gallons, but you can safely use as much myrica gale as you want, as it is quite mild (I would use 15-20 grams). The rosemary I would limit to 2-5 grams.

I would also go easy on the cinnamon. Try 0.5-1 teaspoon.

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