Beer style that was popular in the middle ages is making a comeback

These days, inventive beers are definitely in vogue. Whether you go for a brew made will dill pickles, Peeps-flavored beer or beer made with ramen noodles, unique ingredients are the stars of the show on the beer scene.

Now, a type of beer that originated all the way back in the middle ages is poised to make a comeback. It’s called gruit beer and while most beers are made with hops, it’s made with botanicals instead. Gruit beer has a distinctly sweet flavor profile and was popular throughout Europe until 1516, when Germany passed a law that required beer to be made with only hops, barley and water.

gruit beer photo
Flickr | Bernt Rostad

Some of the herbs used in gruit beer include mugwort, ground ivy, juniper berries, sage and fennel.

Although gruit beers fell out of favor way back when, some breweries have been reviving the hopless style. In fact, since 2013, people have celebrated International Gruit Day annually on Feb. 1. A number of breweries across the country and around the world participated in 2018, showing off their own gruit beer creations.

In honor of the day, Spokane, Washington’s Bellwether Brewing Co. threw its own GruitFest, offering more than a dozen of these old-fashioned brews.

Bowman’s Bar & Grill in Ottawa, Canada offered up two gruit-style beers for the occasion this year:

The White Hag in Sligo, Ireland celebrated with its Beann Gulban Irish Heather Ale:

Brewers say gruit beer offers beer lovers a nice change of pace from the hop-based drinks they normally enjoy.

“To date, we have brewed over 10 types of Gruits,” Rebecca Schranz, co-owner and brewer at Earthbound Beer in St. Louis, told Beer Advocate of the craze. “It’s always a pleasure to have someone try a Gruit, especially folks who are somewhat burnt out on the abundance of overly hoppy IPAs.”

If antique beer recipes are your thing, you might want to try Budweiser’s Freedom Reserve, which was made using a recipe handwritten by George Washington!

freedom reserve photo
Getty Images | Mike Coppola

What’s the most adventurous beer you’ve tried?