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Sanitizing Herbs: Gruit Ale

I am about to rack my Imperial Gruit Ale into my secondary fermentation for some “tea bagging” of more herbs. “Dry Herbing”, if you will.

My question is this:

How the hell should I sanitize them? Or if at all? Boil or Vodka maybe?

I’d go the vodka route, keeping the amount to a minimum.

Having recently made a gruit ale, I’ll just quickly say that I think you’re crazy with the dry herbing idea. But anyway… yeah, I’d go with soaking the herbs in vodka and then just adding the infused vodka. Vodka works great for all sorts of stuff. My jalapeno porter requires no jalapeno additions until bottling day, when I chop and soak the jalapenos in warm vodka for a few hours and then add the vodka in. Perfect flavor and aroma contributions that way, and no chunks to get into the racking cane or bottles.

+1 on “you’re out of your mind for doing this”
I love gruits and do them every winter as well as gruits with some hops and if you don’t have enough herbal character… use more herbs in the boil then!
If you do decide to do that though, I’d bag and boil them for 5 minutes. I tried tea bagging with lemongrass and it ended up giving me a “hay that someone used for… personal hygiene (probably related to your rear)” kind of character. Mint worked OK and was actually even somewhat pleasant and refreshing.
For some reason dry hopping with fresh herbs just doesn’t turn out as good as you think it will.

When it comes to gruit, I got one word - JUNIPER!!!


I’ve never tried mint or juniper – good ideas. I use a lot of sweet gale in mine. I found that you can basically use as much sweet gale as you want and it’s not overpowering. A nice pleasant mild herb.

You adding the gale at the end of the boil Dave? I have the stuff to make a gruit but never got to it.

Well, I am just following a Gruit ale recipe I came across in the AHA database. It says it won gold, so I decided to go ahead and follow what the instructions called for:

In boil:

15.2 grams Yarrow (75 minutes of boil)
8.85 grams Myrica Gale (75)
8.2 grams Melissa (0 minutes)
pinch of cinnamon (0 minutes)

Secondary, Add to taste:

Myrica Gale
Juniper Berries

Figured I would do a pinch of each maybe to start off. Also the herbs amount in the boil is bumped up maybe a quarter of a gram to make up for the bumping up in the grain bill that I did.

Thanks for the input!

I would cut back on the yarrow, assuming this is for 5 gallons. A little goes a long way. Maybe cut back to about 10 grams. I can’t remember how much I used but it wasn’t much.

Lennie and all, I boiled all my herbs for 30 minutes, and I used far less herbs than any other recipe I have ever seen… and my gruit ale scored 42 and 43 in competition. Don’t mean to brag, but just advising you to basically use less herbs than you think you need, and you will be rewarded. I found some good recipes out there but then based on feedback from same recipes, I cut all the specified amounts by 2 or 3 to get more reasonable amounts for my recipe, and it worked out very well. You’ll still get PLENTY of herb flavor even if you only use less than 10 grams, etc. No need to get too crazy with it. Some people use 2 or 3 ounces of every herb, and I can only guess that in those amounts it would be completely undrinkable!

Once again I completely agree with Dave.
A little goes a long way and I have no idea why people use a ton of herbs or how those things are even drinkable. I also don’t use a lot of variety because my idea of gruit doesn’t include a 40-herb-balsam flavored beer. Don’t think I ever went over using 3 varieties and the only one I ever go over 10g is juniper.

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