Gruit Ale

In a not so distant past, beer was brewed with an extended and varied array of botanical ingredients. Herbs, roots and spices where used by our European ancestors in order to give their beers distinct tastes, flavours and properties. These botanicals where sometimes referred to as Gruit, hence Gruit Ale. Today however, beer is almost exclusively brewed with only one, single herb addition: Hops.
Hops, of course are wonderful for brewing. They have the combined qualities that few other plants have, being at the same time bitter, aromatic and antiseptic, all qualities greatly valued in a good beer. Would this explain why Hops have supplanted all other herbal alternatives? What’s interesting about beer history is when you ask Why Hops? the answer is: because of Gruit.