James Clay brings in hop-free beers from Belgium

Specialist beer distributor James Clay is importing a range of hop-free Belgian beers.

The beers are made by Ghent-based Gruut City Brewery using alternative herbs to deliver the bitterness usually provided by hops, a practice dating back to medieval times.

Gruut City was founded by master brewer Annick De Splenter in 2009.

James Clay is importing the brewery’s Ghent Gruut Wit, Ghent Gruut Blonde, Ghent Gruut Amber and Ghent Gruut Bruin beers.

De Splenter said: “In our region, brewing with gruuts, or herbs or spices, dates back to the Middle Ages, when the river Leie divided Ghent into two parts.

“On the right bank the brewers used typical beer ingredients like hops, while those on the left bank, which was ruled by the French, added a mixture of herbs to their beers.

“Landlords collected a tax from brewers based on the amount of herbs used to make their beer.

“Today, the Gruut City Brewery combines present day brewing techniques with centuries old tradition. I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved and very excited to be launching our beers to the UK for the first time with James Clay.”

James Clay founder Ian Clay added: “Tradition is a quality we at James Clay hold in high regard, and of course, we always love working with products that provide a twist on that tradition, so we’re very pleased to be working with Gruut to offer it’s hop-free beers in the UK.

“These flavour-first beers really are something quite exceptional, and I’m sure they’ll find a large fan base on our shores.”