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No Hops In A Gruit. This Beer Has Ginger, Honey, Rosemary

Jarrod May brews with local ginger from farmer Candace Minster. Sales of plant milks are going up. Dairy farmers are on high alert. We go hunting for truffles.

  • Jarrod May, head brewer at The Tap

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    Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

    Jarrod May, head brewer at The Tap

  • Jarrod May, brewing

    Image 2 of 3

    Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

    "These are weird days, the shortened brew days," says Jarrod. "Normally we do a longer boil in between and there’s some down time to adjust... And this is very, things are all back to back."

  • dropping the tea bag of ginger and herbs into the pot

    Image 3 of 3

    Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

    The ginger, chamomile, and rosemary are packaged in a really big tea bag. Jarrod tied it to the end of a long pole, and he dips it into the wort.

Gruit is a style of ale that doesn’t have any hops. “It was a modern term that was given to beers that would have contained things like mugwort, bog myrtle, wild rosemary or Labrador tea – herbs that would be used for bittering in place of hops,” says Jarrod May, head brewer at The Tap in Bloomington.

It’s an old style of beer that some in the industry are trying to get brewers excited about. International Gruit Day was February 1. Jarrod took the opportunity to brew up his very first gruit.

Where’s The Ginger?

This story goes back several weeks when we spoke with Candace Minster of the White Violet Center for EcoJustice. She was the farmer with all that ginger. Jarrod expressed interest in buying some of that young, potent local ginger.

“It was exciting to experience that and say, ‘Oh yes, this is exactly what I’m looking,’” he says. “These are the bright, lemony, crisp ginger flavors I’m looking for. Not the ancient, mature ginger you find in the grocery stores, but something really vivacious and exciting to use and I know it’s going to create a really nice product.”

The ginger is sharing the marquee with chamomile powder, local honey, some very aromatic rosemary and one additional local touch that we’ll hear about in a bit.

Chief Yeast Whisperer

I went back to The Tap for a taste test three weeks later, and I asked someone with a vested interest in the brew to join me — Matt Bochman, co-founder of Wild Pitch Yeast.

Matt’s yeast is the final local ingredient in the gruit. The company boasts a collection of some 300 different strains of brewing yeasts. Jarrod chose a yeast that Matt harvested from a serviceberry in his backyard.

“We got that in early spring 2014. It was a berry that had overwintered on the tree, and my son who wasn’t even three years old yet. He came out and was hanging out with his dad helped me do some citizen science and found it,” says Matt.

Jarrod pulls us tastes of the gruit.

“I’m getting a lot of the wildflower honey flavor to come through and the chamomile tea,” says Matt.

“There’s a lot of that bright lemon character that’s coming out of this just because it’s such a young baby ginger,” adds Jarrod.

Jarrod has named the beer Arcane Wanderer. They have seven barrels of the brew that will be available while it lasts in both Bloomington and Indianapolis. Don’t worry if you miss it this time around — he’s so happy with how it turned out that he’s promised to make it again soon.

Stories On This Episode

A War Over Words Erupts In The Dairy Industry

non-dairy milks on grocery shelves

Dairy farmers say milk comes only from a mammal, which is backed up by the FDA. Plant-based milk companies say foods amount to much more than legal definitions.

California Judge OKs Roundup Cancer Label

Roundup

California will be the first state to label the controversial chemical glyphosate, declared safe by the EPA, and "probably carcinogenic to humans" by the IARC.

U.S.-Mexico Wall Will Cost Americans More For Food

Migrant workers

Requiring Mexican growers to pay more for exporting their goods to the U.S. will only lead to higher prices for American consumers.

Groups Call For Senate To Oppose Labor Secretary Pick

Andrew Puzder looks on at FreedomFest last year at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.

A coalition of food, farm and labor organizations wants the US Senate to block President Trump’s fast-food CEO choice for Secretary of Labor.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Boat

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Boat

Serves this dish in one half of the spaghetti squash, then pass it around family-style.

New Ways To Find – And Grow – Truffles

basket full of truffles

A group of American truffle lovers are trying to show that this reclusive delicacy can be planted, managed and harvested just like any other agricultural crop.

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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