Witch Poison Wild Gruit

In anticipation of the big move about a month from now, I decided that the time has come to bottle some brews and start stashing them away in various storage facilities so that we don’t need to worry about them during the move itself. The first one to get bottled is a black peppercorn, juniper, and lemongrass gruit made over a year ago. This is a really interesting brew in terms of how it changed and developed over its 13 month life thus far. It appeared shortly after I made 15 gallons of Berliner Weisse and was inspired by the no boil technique used. However unlike the Berliner, which tasted quite pleasant right off the bat, this one was so amazingly horrible that I had to dump the first 15 gallons of its predecessor down the drain. Afterwards, I changed the recipe a bit thinking it was Rye’s fault, but alas the taste and smell were that of an outhouse. It is still a mystery to me how I didn’t dump this batch as well. Perhaps I was too lazy to do it, or perhaps I wanted to let it age and see how it turns out, or both. Regardless of the motive, I’m glad I let it live.

For about the first 4-6 months I tasted it about once a month and it remained smelling and tasting like a mix of feces and rotting rats, but gradually became more and more sour and eventually I just stopped tasting it and forgot about it. At approximately 8 months I decided to give it one more taste just in case it got better and was blown away by the improvement. Most importantly the horrible smell and taste were greatly diminished allowing a lot of other flavors to come through. At the time I bottled it, the horrible taste was all but gone, and it smelled of dried peas, dead vegetation, minimal acetic hint, funk and just a lot of stuff. Should be interesting to see how it progresses with bottle aging. I’ll do an official tasting some time in the summer I guess.


Witch Poison Wild Gruit

Date Brewed: 25 Apr 2011

Date Packaged: 11 May 2012

Wort Volume Before Boil: 15.00 US gals

Target Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.041 SG

Actual Pre-Boil Gravity: Didn’t bother measuring. I assume it was 1.041

FG: 1.003

Fermentation Temp: ambient. Fluctuating between mid 60s to high 70s throughout the year.



Benchwood Smoked Malt: 7.00 lb

Peat Smoked Malt: 2.00 lb

US 6-Row Malt: 5.00 lb

US 2-Row Malt: 4.00 lb

US Rye Malt: 1.50 lb

CaraRed: 1.50 lb

Brown Malt: 1.50 lb


Water Profile

Total Calcium (ppm): 120

Total Sodium (ppm): 46

Total Sulfate (ppm): 147

Total Chloride (ppm): 16

Total Bicarbonate (ppm): 190


Mash Schedule

Single Decoction (55-66C/131-151F) w/Mash Out


Mash Notes

100 g of juniper boiled for 30 min with decoction. 10g of black peppercorns + 25g juniper at 10 min.

7# Benchwood Smoked Malt + 2# Peat Smoked Malt.

The whole apartment smells like bacon!


Boil Notes

No boil


Fermentation Notes

Ferment with Dry Bread Yeast with addition of Lambic Blend and Roeselare Blend from WYeast after the fermentation was done. Split into 3 parts after about a month in the original 15 gal vessel. One I gave to one guy and I don’t know what’s up with it. Other ~9 gallons are with me. Dry hopped with lemongrass for about 9-10 months. Hahahaha not sure how that came to be, but yeah.


Packaging Notes

Bottled on May 11, 2012 with 7.8 oz of table sugar per 5 gal.

4 thoughts on “Witch Poison Wild Gruit

    • I wouldn’t say so. The initial and final smells were not those of vomit and pineapples. Probably the Brett did convert some nasty stuff to something tasty, but I don’t know what.

    • Sam cleared this up for me a little while ago–butyric acid smells like sweaty gym clothes or something along those lines, but not vomit. I left some spent grains in my trash can once and the next day it smelled really rank, matching that description. But it’s totally different from the vomit smell I got another time when I stored grains in the fridge for a little too long (“I’ll make spent grain bread!” — right) and when I first tried to create a sourdough starter. No idea what that one is. I notice it has some bubblegum type aroma under the vomit smell.

  1. Pingback: Witch Poison Wild Gruit Tasting « BKYeast

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