On Sat., Feb. 1, brewers around the world, including at least two locally, are celebrating International Gruit Day. What is a Gruit, you say? Centuries ago, before German purity laws legislated that beer should be made only with water, barley, and hops, beers were brewed with dozens of herbs. These German Gruit or Grut (German for herb) Ales were spiced with plans such as juniper, heather, and yarrow. The beers are making a comeback among craft brewers today.
Cambridge Brewing Company in Kendall Square is tapping three gruit beers for the occasion: the award-winning Heather Ale, Weekapaug Gruit, and Hay is for Horses, a "Nordic pale ale " brewed with hay and heather honey.
Over in Chelsea, Mystic Brewery is pouring seven Gruits starting at noon. The beers include Eldergold, a pale beer brewed with edible flowers Elderflower, chamomile and calendula, and Radix, a light amber beer aged on sassafras root and cedar.
"Gruits have an awful name and are virtually unknown in the marketplace but when we put them on at the tasting room in Chelsea they fly out the door," says Mystic founder Bryan Greenhagen. "They are really interesting beers."