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Herbal essence


Bellwether again turns back the beer clock on Thursday with the help of some friends for its second annual GruitFest.

It’s one of some 50 events around the globe for International Gruit Day, honoring the herbed beers that reigned back in the day before hops were commonplace in brewing.

Iron Goat, Republic Brewing, Whistle Punk and Young Buck return for a second round, joined by newcomers Perry Street, Quartzite and Hierophant Meadery.

The centerpiece again is a collaboration called We, 2, are Gruit (following last year’s We Are Gruit). Bellwether brewed the base beer (around 6 percent alcohol by volume) with rye malt and a bittering combination of yarrow, mugwort, wormwood, dandelion leaf and birch leaf in place of hops.

Participating partners contributed the flavor and aroma additions: caraway from Bellwether, star anise from Whistle Punk, birch bark from Quartzite, rose hips from Young Buck and pinyon sap from Hierophant.     

“What everybody brought was just awesome,” Bellwether’s Thomas Croskrey says. Along with the spicy rye, he says, “There’s a tannic acid presence in the beer from the herbs, but it’s supposed to be there and it balances the beer nicely.”

Guest brewers also are bringing their own separate creations, including:

Hierophant: A Masala chai metheglyn (botanical mead) with reishi mushroom, Oregon grape root, fennel and elderberries.  

Iron Goat: Camp-pear Wheat Ale with pears, lemon zest and cinnamon.

Perry Street: Its IPA wort finished with mugwort, lemon verbena, rose hips and yerba mate.

Quartzite: A rye ale with ginger, orange peel and caraway seed.

Republic: Dark Forest porter with spruce, juniper, cardamom and ginger.

Whistle Punk: A dark saison with yarrow, caraway and juniper.

Young Buck: Its Gose (tart wheat beer) with coriander, grains of paradise, juniper berries, elderberries and Spanish orange peel.


Bellwether, which specializes in Old World styles, is pouring a pair of gruits from its current taplist: Fat Hobbit’s Tricksy Gruit, with rosemary, grapefruit peel, clove, allspice, grains of paradise, coriander, star anise, Southern Cross hops and orange juice; and Eclectic Feel, with wheat, honey, hops, birch bark, lemon verbena, basil and black pepper.

There’s also a big Hibernal Ale with hops, juniper, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, coriander, sage, basil and rosemary, and the final bit of last year’s Simon and Gruitfunkel collaboration with Four-Eyed Guys – made with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme – blended with Four-Eyed Guys’ watermelon gose.

And Bellwether brewed a big barleywine bittered with wormwood, dandelion leaf and yarrow, split three ways and finished with different additions: wild mushrooms, rosemary, allspice and black pepper; dill weed, lemon verbena and catnip; and yerba mate plus grains of paradise.

The beers will flow from 3 to 9 p.m. The cost is $25, which includes a commemorative glass and your first five 5-ounce pours (extra drink tickets are $2 each).

Five dollars from each admission, and from each souvenir GruitFest T-shirt sold (for $12 each), will benefit the family of Iron Goat co-founder Paul Edminster, who died last September from complications of cancer.            

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