"On a sunny day in July, I headed to Urban Farm Fermentory in search of gruits. Its tasting room is a kaleidoscopic mash-up of spray-painted walls, thrift-store accouterments and industrial concrete floors, with agrarian undertones of bundled rosemary and fungal material soaking in jars. The name is fitting: the space feels both urban and agricultural, making it the perfect setting to try an ancient beer style brewed in the modern world of iPhones and Donald Trump.

On my visit, there were three gruits on draft: Strawberry Lager, Sweetfern Lager and Beet Red Nitro. By the names, it’s clear that these gruits lean toward the natural flavors of local farms to garner their taste.

The tasting room attendant explains that its gruits are brewed with 10 percent of the hops used in the production of regular beers. While they’re not hop-less, the aroma from these gruits tells you you’re embarking on something different.

The Sweetfern Lager has a bright but mild aroma of fresh herbs. The flavor is light, highlighting refreshing earthy flavors interplaying with the bite from the lager yeast. This beer is more refined than some of the experimental gruits I’ve tried. Since a lager isn’t known for big hop flavors, it seems like a great choice for a gruit.

The Strawberry Lager rides a similar line as its Sweetfern counterpart, but the strawberry gives it a more robust flavor. Both of these beers are perfect for a hot July day.

The Beet Red Nitro gruit is brewed with beets as the primary flavoring agent and poured on nitro, giving it a big mouthfeel. The sweetness of the beets really shines through.

It’s funny; I didn’t find myself missing the hops in these beers. Surprisingly, without hops, they still taste like beer. Urban Farm Fermentory’s gruits are balanced, clean and impressive.

Do not fear the gruit. Head to Urban Farm Fermentory and taste an ancient beer style that satiated our ancestors long before the arrival of the now ubiquitous hop plant."

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