Craft beer is big business these days. But there are still those who got into the industry for their love of beer, and not just their love of money.
Sam Calagione and Tod Mott are two of those people. Calagione, president of Delaware-based Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, host of the Discovery Channel series "Brew Masters," and all around beer rock star, was in Portsmouth this week for a special beer dinner on Tuesday night.
While he was here, Calagione and Mott, the 's head brewer, decided to collaborate on a new beer. So on Wednesday morning, they were down in the basement of the Brewery, sifting through piles of herbs for their new beer, the cleverly named Frui-it Gru-it.
Gruit is a medieval beer that uses a variety indigenous herbs instead of hops as the key ingredients. But instead of just making a straight gruit, the pair of master brewers decided to add some fruit to it as well.
Calagione brought some plums from a farm in Delaware, and Mott gathered an assortment of lavender, bull thistle, mugwort and other herbs from New Hampshire and Vermont. Some of them even came from nearby Strawbery Banke. Thirty pounds of peaches were also added to give it an even fruitier flavor. The base for the beer is an amber porter, mostly, Mott said, because he had never seen a gruit brewed using porter, and it's a beer style he loves.
"One of the cool things about gruit is in the return to locavorism, it's all about using what you have nearby," said JT Thompson, the brewery's spokesman.
So why gruit, instead of another type of beer?
"I haven't brewed one, and I'd been interested," Mott said. "I figured if there was one person who would be good at experimenting with, it would be Sam."
"We've done some medieval drinks, but we've never done a gruit at Dogfish either," Calagione said.
Gruit is a style of beer that isn't seen much anymore, but Mott said some craft breweries are making them now.
In all, Mott and Calagione wound up brewing just seven barrels of the Frui-it Gru-it (pronounced froo-it, groo-it), and Mott said it should be ready to drink in about three weeks. He said some of it will be bottled for personal use, but most of it will go right on tap at the Portsmouth Brewery.