Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gruit Ale

If you listen to the modern moralizer you'd think our fore bearers only consisted of stoic church going folk who toiled the hard earth so we could have the society we have today. Of course the more you learn about history the more you realize that's a very distorted picture. People in the past where a lot like people now. These were people you would actually want to party with rather than the dour souls so often portrayed. Living fast and dieing young was never more true. These were people who embraced lust, hunger and the thirst for a beer.

It's the last point out thirst for a beer that I really wanted to write about. I just found this very interesting history of an old style of ale called Gruit. Gruit was un-hopped and used a variety of herbs to add flavor. The herbs often had additional medicinal qualities that greatly increased the intoxicating effect. As the author of the article tells it, hops weren't added until only a few hundred years ago at the behest of the protestant clergy and not only because they had a nice bitter flavor but because they had a dulling effect on the male libido. Go read it.
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