SPECTRA TRIFECTA: 77 Points
Big herbal notes
This Herbal beer is a limited edition in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Brewed in the traditional Kolsch style, which requires fermenting ale yeast at a colder temperature and gives the beer a clean finish without fruity yeast esters. This bright, golden beer is brewed with a trifecta of natural ingredients: earthy, floral and slightly sweet chamomile; a touch of citrusy lemongrass; and a hint of spicy fresh ginger. At 5.9% ABV and 20 IBUs, it’s delightfully refreshing.”
My Description: This is a smooth and fun beer to try out. It begins with a weak colored, white colored head that fades quickly to a ring leaving behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is herb forward with notes of lemongrass, ginger, pale malts, and some floral notes. Spectra Trifecta is light/medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is just as the description says with apparent notes of ginger, lemongrass, and chamomile. The crisp and soft characteristic of the Kolsch style makes for a great base for this herbal beer. However, after a while this begins to taste like more of a novelty than a beer that I can drink more of. Still, it is worth trying just because the flavors do come through nicely. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with Thai noodles, rice dishes, or soft cheeses.
ABV: 5.9% Color: Yellow Sweetness: 1.5/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10
INDRA KUNINDRA: 95 Points
Like I’m in SE Asia
This Specialty/Herbal Beer is available year-round in 22 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Our India-style Export Stout is a unique collaboration with award-winning homebrewer Alex Tweet. Released in limited quantities, this explosion of South Asian flavors is reason enough to kneel down and thank the heavens. It’s further proof of San Diego’s status as a brewer’s playground, and a beer lover’s utopia.”
My Description: The flavor profile reminds me of eating Indian cuisine, they did a great job turning that into a beer that still feels like a big stout. It begins with a large, dark beige colored head that fades rather quickly but leaves behind an excellent amount of lacing. The aroma is complex and intriguing and spot on with the description including notes of curry, cayenne spice, coconuts, chocolate, and roasted notes. Indra Kunindra is full bodied with a slighlty lower carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is tasty with the heat from the cayenne spice taking center stage along with notes of coconuts, roasted malt, faint lime notes, and traces of chocolate. The aftertaset is slightly bitter with lingering spice notes. Overall, this is a very creative beer that makes you feel like your in SE Asia. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with ribs, fried rice, or Mongolian BBQ.
ABV: 7% Color: Black Sweetness: 1.5/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10
IMPERIAL SPRUCE PILSNER: 91 Points
Hops meet Spruce
This Imperial Pilsner is available in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Imperial Spruce Pilsner is fermented with local, hand-picked blue spruce tips and the quintessential symbol for Joe Short’s love of hops and craft beer. The spruce presence, rooted in historical brewing practices, is enormous and gives the beer a refreshing gin quality. This beer is impressively light bodied, considering the immense spruce flavors and the prodigious additions of hops.”
My Description: I feel like this beer is great for the Autumn season. The Pilsner aspect blends cleanly with the Winter spruce notes, throw in a lot of hops, increase the alcohol, and you got a different feel for a Fall beer that fits nicely between a Summer style and Winter flavors. It begins with a large, white colored head with a great retention level that holds the whole way leaving behind a good amount of lacing. The aroma is pleasant; notes of pale malts intertwine with earthy/herbal hops and a mellow but noticeable spruce note. Spruce Pilsner is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a very dry finish. The flavor profile is crisp and refreshing. Spruce notes are detected easily in front of the soft Pilsner backbone. Vegetative and herbal hop notes are present throughout and the alcohol flavor is nicely hidden. The aftertaste is moderately bitter with lingering spruce notes. The balance of flavors is well done here. The spruce notes dominate but don’t overpower the hop notes and the overall Pilsner feel. It is best served around 40°F and pairs nicely with grilled asparagus, roasted duck, or baked ham.
ABV: 7% Color: Light Gold Sweetness: 1/10 Bitterness: 6/10
BLACK CHAI: 85 Points
This Herbal Beer is a limited time release in 12 oz. bottles in the Winter Variety Pack.
Brewer’s Description: “Black Chai is a sumptuous black cream ale that immediately entices the senses with aromas of dark specialty malts, cardamon, nutmeg, and ginger. The brew has a delicious creamy mouthfeel. Chocolate and roasted malt characteristics resonate throughout this black ale. The finish is playfully spicy and bitter.”
My Description: Black Chai is a beer that grows on you. At first it just seems like a novelty but the spice notes add depth and contribute to the flavors of the beer pleasantly. It begins with a large, dark beige colored head with an excellent retention level that holds the whole way leaving behind a tremendous amount of lacing. The aroma is pleasant and welcoming with notes of roasted malt, coffee grounds, and spice notes like ginger and cardamom. Black Chai is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is tasty and quite interesting. The black chai notes actually work nicely with this blend of malts because the roasted notes balance out the spice notes cleanly without one taking over the other. Plus, this beer is moderately bitter making for a highly drinkable combination. The chai notes taste great with ginger standing out nicely along with some nutmeg and hints of cardamom. The texture is slightly creamy and overall the flavors are fairly mellow. This is a great beer to check out while it’s available. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with jerk chicken or peppered steaks.
ABV: 5% Color: Black Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 5/10
GRUIT: 92 Points
This Specialty Ale is released in limited quantities in 22 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Experimentation doesn’t mean new. With our Gruit, the latest Lips of Faith release, it’s all about revisiting the ancient craft of bittering with herb mixtures, not hops. In here horehound, bog myrtle, yarrow, wormwood and elderflowers get together with rich malts to create a bitter, dry, velvet-like sweetness worth revering.“
My Description: This is an interesting ale because it uses a unique blend herbs and spices to flavor and balance the beer, instead of the usual hops. It begins with a good sized, white colored head with a great retention level that holds the whole way leaving behind an excellent amount of lacing. The aroma smells fresh and outdoorsy with notes of pale malts, some sweetness, apples, and herbs with a floral presence. Gruit is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. A clean array of herbal and floral flavor notes sweep the palate but they are not overly sweet; actually this beer is balance beautifully with some bitter and earthy notes coming through as well. The yeast also adds flavors to this beer with some esters and spice notes. Stone fruits and green bananas add to the complexity and pale malt notes reminder you that you are drinking a beer. This is a delicious beer that is a joy to drink. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with smoked duck, grilled lamb chops, or a fruity salad.
ABV: 6.6% Color: Deep Yellow/Gold Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 3/10
KVASIR: 88 Points
Ancient Scandinavian Beer
This Ancient Ale is a limited release and is available in 750 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “The recipe for Kvasir was developed with the help of chemical, botanical and pollen evidence taken from a 3,500‐year‐old Danish drinking vessel. The vessel, made of birch bark, was found in the tomb of a leather‐clad woman Dr. Pat says was probably an upper-class dancer or priestess. The analysis pointed to the ingredients used in this unique brew: wheat, lingonberries, cranberries, myrica gale, yarrow, honey and birch syrup.The base of Kvasir is a toasty red winter wheat, and the bog-grown berries deliver a pungent tartness. While a handful of hops is used, the earthy, bitter counterpunch to the sweet honey and birch syrup comes from the herbs.”
My Description: This is an interesting ale and it is amazing that people could have drank this 3,500 years ago. Kudos to Dogfish to resurrecting this to the best of their ability. This beer is flavorful and definitely a sipper. It pours a large, light beige colored head with a decent retention that lasts for a couple of minutes but then disappears completely leaving behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is inviting and on the sweet side with notes of honey and berries with a touch of birch syrup and alcohol. Kvasir is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The flavors and drinkability of this ale reminds me of a dry white wine. There is a prevalent tart note throughout along with some earthiness, cranberries, and other sweet berries. The birch syrup really brings out an herbal element that adds complexity giving this beer some dryness. The aftertaste is slightly bitter, which helps to relieve some of the sweetness. The alcohol is nicely hidden and overall the beer is smooth and clean. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with smoked salmon, beef tacos, or sweet-and-sour pork.
ABV: 10% Color: Reddish/Brown Sweetness: 3.5/10 Bitterness: 2/10
MAMMA MIA!: 74 Points
Novelty Pizza Beer
This Herbal Ale is available year-round in 16 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Unfiltered American Ale Brewed With Basil, Oregano, Tomato and Garlic. Truly the World’s First Culinary Beer Designed to Taste Great on It’s Own and Even Better With Food (Especially Pizza) The Beer is Truly Unique In That It Also Makes a Tremendous Ingredient in All Types of Foods. Chef Tom & Mamma Mia Have Developed Several Cooking Videos on Display at www.pizzabeer.net.”
My Description: What a truly unique beer. I have never drank a beer that was modeled on food before. Sure I have had fruit, vegetable, and other herbal beer but not one based on a full pizza. It begins with a good sized, white colored head that lasts for quite some time and leaves behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma smells on point with a pizza. There are notes of oregano, basil, and bread. I couldn’t believe how close this smelled to an Italian pizza. This ale is medium bodied with a higher carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. This taste matches the aroma closely with notes of oregano, bread, and basil. This almost tastes like a liquid form of pizza crust. The aftertaste is minimally bitter with a touch of herbal spice. This beer is unique but more of a novelty beer. I didn’t really want to finish the whole bottle. It is worth trying just for the fun of it. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with… pizza!
ABV: 4.7% Color: Orange Sweetness: 1.5/10 Bitterness: 2/10
PISTIL: 76 Points
Taste the harsh weed.
This herbal ale is available in the Spring season in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Stop and smell the petals. Pistil is a summer beer unlike any other, brewed with a combination of dandelion petals, Pale and Acidulated malts, flaked oats, and Apollo and Northern Brewer hops that results in a one-of-a-kind beer with a slightly sour acidity and a smooth malt body. Perfect for taking down deep thirst.”
My Description: This ale is unique in the sense that it uses dandelions. However, I would like to see a quality brewer use this ingredient because this beer is harsh and not satisfying. The head is pretty good though. It is large and foamy with a white color and good retention level. The aroma is the worst part of this beer. It is very harsh and unwelcoming with notes of grass and flower. Pistil is light/medium bodied with a higher carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The flavor profile consists of pale malt notes, herbal and grass notes, with a hint of spice. The aftertaste is slightly bitter with a touch of sweetness. As the beer warms, a lemon note begins to make an appearance. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with light salads, margarita flat-breads, or sushi.
ABV: 4.5% Color: Hazy Straw Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 2.5/10
SCOTTISH GINGER: 82 Points
This beer is generally available year-round in 500 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “A traditional style ginger beer, made with a malt base, lashings of fresh ginger root, a touch of organic cane sugar, lemon juice & yeast… that’s it. Our ginger has a distinctly ‘beery’ taste without the bitterness of hops.”
My Description: If you don’t love ginger than you need to avoid this beer because this is a ginger bomb. I couldn’t even finish the bottle because it was just too much ginger. It has a weak head that also retains weakly leaving minimal lacing. The aroma has a huge ginger nose accompanied by a touch of lemon. The beer is lighter bodied with a higher carbonation level. No surprise, it has a big ginger taste throughout with some sweetness and some lemon flavors also. The finish is smooth and refreshing with a spice kick from the ginger. This beer wouldn’t be so bad if they just tuned down the ginger. It is best served around 40°F and pairs nicely with sushi, light salads, or stir fry’s.
ABV: 3.8% Color: Straw Yellow Sweetness: 4/10 Bitterness: 1/10
KELPIE SEAWEED ALE: 86 Points
Seaweed tastes good
This is one of Williams Brother’s historic ales that is brewed by introducing local seaweed to the mash tun which is mashed in with the malted and roasted barley. Available in the U.S. in 11.2 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Kelpie is a rich chocolate ale which has an aroma of fresh sea breeze and a distinctive malty texture.”
My Description: With a beer this low in alcohol I don’t really see an excuse why the head is so thin and sparse. It lingers for a little bit and has a pretty beige color but not the head I was hoping for. Perhaps seaweed is a head killer but I am not that educated in seaweed. However, the aroma is refreshing with notes of chocolate and a little hint of earth and the ocean. This beer is light bodied and very smooth with a chocolate taste mixed in with some earth notes and a minor coffee aftertaste. More on the malty side; its roasty with some minor creaminess in the aftertaste as well. Hops are not apparent in this beer which is expected in Scottish ales. Right when you swallow this beer it gives you a very nice freshwater taste that lasts only for a millisecond or so but it makes you want to keep drinking to get that taste again. Definitely worth picking up for the enjoyment of a fresh and exotic type beer. You can get a bottle for $2-$3.
ABV: 4.4% Color: Dark Brown Sweetness: 3.5/10 Bitterness: 2/10
FRAOCH HEATHER ALE: 90 Points
Leann Fraoch (Heather Ale)
This ale has been brewed in Scotland since 2000 B.C. “Gale and flowering heather are added, then after cooling slightly the hot ale is poured into a vat of fresh heather flowers where it infuses for an hour before being fermented.”
Brewer’s Description: “A light amber ale with floral peaty aroma, full malt character, a spicy herbal flavour and dry wine like finish.”
My Description: This is not similar to many other ales on the market, which means that it has to be really good to get people to try it and understand what they are drinking. I believe this beer has done just that. It starts with a very thin and sparse head that lingers for some time and produces a decent lace. The aroma is very mild with floral notes. The taste is where this beer shines. The initial taste you get as soon as it hits your lips is a strong floral flavor. The aftertaste is a little dry and malty which does actually resemble a white wine-like finish. If you hold this beer in your mouth for a second before swallowing you will pick up on some white wine flavors as well. This beer is medium bodied and very smooth. The flavors seem to blend perfectly together and if you are looking for something different and historic, I suggest this.
ABV: 5% Color: Gold Sweetness: 4/10 Bitterness: 1/10
ROUTE DES ÉPICES: 90 Points
Route Des Épices (Spice Route)
This ale is available year-round in the U.S. in 11.5 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Routes des épices is a rye beer brewed with both black and green peppercorns. Initially, the beer reveals flavours of fresh grain and malt, which give it notes of chocolate, caramel, and fruit. The pepper flavour and aroma is fully revealed in the finish, which leaves a pleasant, spicy, tingling sensation on the tongue.”
My Description: This is a slightly complex beer that is really good and unique. However, there is absolutely no head on this beer. I used a tulip glass and poured it recklessly and still got nothing. That little head you see in the picture went away in 30 seconds. Luckily, that is the only negative of this beer. The aroma is mild and pleasant with notes of bread and spices. It is medium bodied to full bodied. At first sip you will taste some sweet and malt notes, in the middle you will taste the chocolate flavor that is accompanied by a slight grain taste. The beer finishes with a strong pepper taste that lingers for some time. That peppery aftertaste is really nice and makes you want more. It is best served around 45°F and pair nicely with steaks, lamb chops, or salads.
ABV: 5.3% Color: Hazy Red Sweetness: 3.5% Bitterness: 2/10
ROSÉE D’HIBISCUS: 79 Points
Rosée Hibiscus (Pinkish Hibiscus)
This wheat beer is available year-round in the U.S. in 11.5 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Rosée d’Hibiscus is a soft spoken wheat beer. The rose colour comes from the hibiscus flowers added during the brewing process. The aromas and flavour of this tropical flower are very prominent in the beer, giving it a slight acidity and a very agreeable fragrance. It is the perfect thirst quencher on a hot summer day.”
My Description: This beer has no head whatsoever and the lacing is nonexistent. The aroma smells fresh and clean with notes of sweetness and flowers, more distinctively, a warming rose scent. The carbonation seems just about right for a wheat ale and the texture is smooth and mild. However, the taste is also mild, almost flavorless. You will pick up on the floral notes but they are weak and not very satisfying. It’s definitely easy drinking but I think some added spices would make this beer more attractive and enjoyable. I understand that they are making a floral beer, but it’s just too mild to feel refreshing. Best served at 40°-45°F and paired with desserts or salads.
ABV: 5.9% Color: Hazy Rose Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 1/10