You can’t know where you’re going, until you know where you’ve been.
Perhaps this is why I was so excited to crack open a bottle of Dr. Fritz Briem 13th Century Grut (pronounced “grew-it”), a beer brewed according to recipes dating back to before the German Purity Law in 1516 – or as it’s otherwise known, Reinheitsgebot. To put it simply, while the Germans (and many of us today) may know beer as a simple mixture of hops, barley and water (and yeast, but that’s another story) it wasn’t always that way. Like many beers before it, this brew has an incredible combination of ingredients, including bay leaves, ginger, anise and rosemary. That’s status quo for a grut/gruit, which would have a wide variety of herbal components, from mugwart to cinnamon to nutmeg and beyond.
So yes, this is a complex beer. It’s got an 86 on Beer Advocate.
I loved how it smelled. The first impression reminded me of a farmhouse-style beer – a little sour and earthy/grassy, but in a definite good way. It makes me think of summer. That’s compounded by a floral appeal, kind of like smelling a bouquet of edible flowers. What surprised me the most was a whiff of peach. That must’ve been the sweetness of all the herbs coming together. If I were to put this in front of a friend, I could easily see them likening this to some kind of “hippy garden” where a wide variety of herbs, spices and produce are grown. It’s that in-depth.
But let’s not short-change the flavor. Drinking this beer was incredibly easy. The sour smell carried over into the flavor, but by no means was it a negative. It’s a very easy-drinking kind of sour that wouldn’t turn off many palates because there are plenty of other flavors – ginger, coriander and the anise really shines through as the beer warms. There’s some great spiciness to it all that you’ll never find anywhere else. If you like eating Christmas cookies, I imagine you’ll like this beer.
Overall, a wonderful find – and I bought it on discount(!) no less. At 4.6 percent ABV, the content of the brew is really allowed to shine through. I was impressed with how tasty a 13th century beer could be, and you would be too.
Hit the jump for my “Rate That Beer” sheet.