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Unique beers in the plans at Gruff Brewing

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Gruff Brewing is planning to use some interesting ingredients in upcoming beers. The brewery has made unique beers before, such as its pineapple hefeweizen, spiced imperial Belgian brown, and chocolate coffee stout, but it’s about to take things to another level. No, it’s not going to use odd or gross ingredients. It’s looking to use ingredients with globally historical roots, but with a local focus

Gruff’s small, 2-barrel brewhouse allows for experimenting and brewing a wide variety of beers. Co-owner and brewer Chris Bierman has lots of ideas in the works, but he sounds most excited about using a unique malt from Skagit Valley Malting called Obsidian (formerly “Purple Egyptian”). It’s a hull-less, landrace barley malt that originated at the headwaters of the Nile River in Egypt, and was revived by grain historian Dr. Richard Scheuerman of the Seattle Pacific University. The grain has a purple-black hue, and it tastes similar to Grape-Nuts cereal. It’s a very limited grain, but Bierman hopes to use it in at least a few of his upcoming beers.

Obsidian malt from Skagit Valley Malting.

Also on the docket are some low-hop and no-hop beers, such as Gruit and Sahti.

Gruit is beer made with a mixture of herbs for flavoring and bittering instead of hops. Bierman has a long list of plants he wants to use in different beers, including yarrow, heather, sage, juniper, spruce, nettles, and devil’s club.

Sahti is a traditional beer from Finland that’s made with a variety of grains, including barley, wheat, oats, and rye, and it’s often flavored with juniper berries instead of hops. This cloudy beer often has phenolic notes and banana-like yeast esters.

Of course, Gruff also plans to continue to brew with fruit as well. In the near future, be on the lookout for Gruff’s Far East IPA made with dragonfruit.

Whenever possible, Bierman uses local ingredients in his beers, including all of his malted barley, which is made by Skagit Valley Malting, a custom maltster in Burlington, WA.

“We’re all from Bellingham, and we’re trying to be as much of a local brewery as possible,” Bierman says. “So, we source as many local ingredients as we can, to keep the money here.”

About Aubrey Laurence

Aubrey Laurence
Aubrey has been a craft beer fanatic since the mid '90s and he has written about beer for a wide variety of publications in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado for well over a decade. He has judged beer in multiple competitions, plus he has rated and taken notes on thousands of beers from all 50 states and 68 countries -- visiting 16 of those countries on 6 continents. He is also a Certified Beer Server with the Cicerone Certification Program, an avid homebrewer, and a hop grower. In 2013 & 2014, he spearheaded Bellingham Beer Week. When he’s not drinking beer, he’s probably climbing a mountain somewhere. He lives in Bellingham with his wife and three cats. Follow him on twitter @AubreyLaurence.

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