The latest from Atlas

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

5 Things You Didn't Know About Beer: How Beer Was Flavoured Before Hops


If you thought that hops had been used to flavour beer since beer began, you'd be mistaken. This dose of beer facts is about how beer was flavoured before hops. Be thankful that twigs and mugwort aren't the only options anymore.

  • The 11th century is the first time hops are documented as being used to flavour beer.

  • Before this beer was flavoured using a variety of plants including dandelion, burdock, marigold, heather and the rather Harry Potter sounding, Mugwort.

  • Gruit (or grut) is an old herb mixture that was used to bitter beer before hops. Gruit varied in recipe with different producers having their own special blend. Some gruit ingredients are now know to have preservative qualities.

  • Gruit itself lost popularity with the onset of hops in brewing but some non-hopped beers still survive today such as Sahti. Sahti is a traditional Finnish beer that is flavoured with berries, twigs and juniper.

  • Gruit has had a bit of a revival though due to the craft brewing's recent renaissance. Many smaller breweries in the US and Europe have experimented with unhopped beers and found inspiration in the old herbs (and twigs) that were previously used to flavour beer.