Gruit
65th highest rated style (of 102)
Highest RatedShearer's Joy (75 / 100) Average score62 / 100 (Decent)
Lowest RatedKelpie Seaweed Ale (40 / 100) Number Tried33
Ales of the Ages - Gruit
Reviewed by Jez on 01.09.17 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
500ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer.

Pours a very pale yellow colour, light in the body, and fizzy. It has almost no head though—frothing swiftly like a glass of soda water and then disappearing. After a while, even the carbonation is gone, making it look like a slightly aged white wine. Interesting.

Nose is tart, but with a relatively pleasant spice and herbal quality behind it. I get hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, but also a sharper organic greenness that reminds me of the aroma of Nelson Sauvin. It's subtle complexity, but there's interesting stuff there.

Taste is light and dry on the front, with a clean, sharp acidity. The back has plenty of spice character, but the body evaporates like a light-bodied white wine—something with plenty of acid. Finish has earthy, peppery tones, with characters of eucalyptus and a slight smokiness.

Feel is very light, but with a crispness both from the residual carbonation and the acidity.

It's crisp and interesting, and the combination of spices give it a depth of complexity to explore. Would I drink it a lot? You know, I almost might. It has a lightness that's really quite pleasant, and the acidity makes it rather refreshing.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.75
Koyt Gruitbier
8.5% Gruit from Jopen B.V.
Reviewed by Jez on 09.01.16 in bottle
Overall:
72 / 100
(Very Good)
330ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.

Pours a very hazed red-brown colour, with a yellow-tinged off-white head that starts firm, but settles out to a ring of foam and larger bubbles around the edge of the glass. Good streaks of lace. Body looks pretty heavy, which is perhaps not unexpected given the ABV. Looks interesting at least.

Nose is pretty decent, especially for a hop-free beer. There's some deep sweetness to it, perhaps like what you'd expect from a mixture of dried fruits. This also gives a suggestion of mild acidity, although it may be nothing more than the temperament of the spices. These actually, surprisingly, don't give up a great deal themselves, but provide some undertones to the yeast notes and that sweetness. It's interesting.

Taste is actually pretty good. I was half expecting a touch of true acidity, but there's nothing more than that rich stewed/dried fruit character, which provides a strong foundation for the rest of the beer. Here, there is a touch of spice and herbs, but it's again pretty subtle—probably about the level of subtlety you'd expect from hops in a yeast- and malt-driven Belgian ale. Back has some mild vinous characters, and a lingering yeasty bite. I like it.

Feel is surprisingly heavy for the style of beer. I expect this to be rather biting and a little sharp usually, but this definitely makes the whole weight of its 8% ABV felt.

Overall, an interesting beer. It's not going to be a huge standout of the year (early as it is), but I can see this as part of the solid foundations of new beers I try in 2016. Bring on more like this.
appearance: 3.25 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.75
Lips of Faith - Gruit
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 28.08.15 in bottle
Overall:
69 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a pale champagne colour with champagney bead. Head is whispy bubbles, white, sparse and webbed lace. OK.

Smells a bit subdued. Somewhat desserty, with cinnamon-stewed apple, notes of nutmeg, molasses and maybe some prunes. Decent but could use more aroma.

Taste confirms my suspicions and is quite heavy on the prunes. Stewed apple as well, and plenty of spice. Slight tartness but just comes across as fresh. An odd flavour mix, but a rewarding one.

Bitsy, but has a nice solid body and good fluidity.

I kind of want to dislike this, but it keeps pulling me back in. I feel like Michael Corleone, it's unsettlingly beguiling.
appearance: 3.25 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | drinkability: 4.0
Lips of Faith - Gruit
Reviewed by Jez on 25.07.15 in bottle
Overall:
74 / 100
(Very Good)
22oz bomber purchased from K & L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Brought back to Sydney, where I've apparently sat on it for a long time before serving it to Sam and Rich. It recommended drinking by Jan 2015, so we'll see how it goes.

Pours a clear golden hue, quite light and thin with some coarse-bubbled carbonation. Head is a flimsy, pocked cap of white that leaves some thin rings of lace. It looks decent, but nothing more.

Nose is pleasant, and interestingly fragrant. Slight mallow and sweet herbal notes balanced by a kind of savoury grain tone. A little suggestion of something like pine sap, and perhaps a mild touch of tartness. It's quite aromatic all up, and very interesting. I like it.

Taste actually works quite well. Throughout, there's a fairly solid, and fairly sweet malt character, that gives it a rather Belgian tone. But this is broken up with more of those aromatic herbal qualities. Mild vanilla, a little bit more reedy, crushed vegetation and a rather sweet fragrance I can't quite pinpoint. Interestingly, unlike many gruits I've tried, there's no real spice note, and it's refreshingly clean as a result—not overpowered with chai-like notes that can become very cloying.

Feel is surprisingly thin. Given it's quite a light-flavoured beer all up, it's probably a good thing, though, and helps it from being cloying.

Interestingly, it's quite drinkable for all its mild oddities. I can actually see myself sinking a couple of these. Of course, that's probably never going to happen, but it's certainly interesting enough to be a fine one-off experience.
appearance: 3.25 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.25
Shearer's Joy
Reviewed by Jez on 12.07.15 on tap
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne. One of the more unusual beers at the festival, being filtered on a bed of hay and produced using a bunch of odd traditional methods. It certainly comes through in the finished product.

Pours a pale golden colour, very hazy with some solid weight behind it. Head is white, forming a fine, good ring. Slight waves of lace forms as the beer goes down. Carbonation is very fine and powdery looks good.

Nose is pleasantly rustic. Grain bed comes through along with an earthier tone of warm straw. This almost gives odd hints of melted chocolate, slight apricot all wrapped up in a truly earthy, organic funk. It's oddly aromatic and captivating.

Fruity entry on the palate, with more rustic hay notes. Sweet and long through the centre of the palate, more odd chocolate and sultanas. Finish is quite light, with a bit of funky dry hay and lingering rotting sweetness (in a good way). The very end has a bit of bite to it, almost a little bit bitter or hot.

Feel is smooth but with a tweak of lightness to it.

Overall, this was certainly one of the more unique beers at the festival—impressively different I would say. I liked it for being weird. Others genuinely hated it.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Shearer's Joy
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 15.06.15 on tap
Overall:
53 / 100
(OK)
Pours a very pale straw colour, slightly cloudy with foamy white head. Decent-looking brew.

Smells light, not much there really, but a meek fruity note. Touch of pear and green apple and not much else. Slight acidity to it; not too bad, just light.

Taste is similarly mild and light. Some grainy notes upfront then the mildest touch of funk with some cider character to it. Mostly airy and nothing; slight yeastiness late.

Thin body with carbonation showing through big and sharp and unpleasantly.

Very clean-drinking beer, mostly because it tastes of nothing.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Red Duck Gruitest
Reviewed by Jez on 29.08.14 in bottle
Overall:
74 / 100
(Very Good)
330ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars. Brewed with yarrow, wormwood, mugwort, dendelion, orange peel, lemon balm, elderflower, hibiscus and hawthorn berries.

Poured without the yeast sediment, it ends up strikingly clear in the glass. Dark golden in colour, with a small amount of bubbly white froth that gives up quickly leaving the beer looking thick and still like a dessert wine. There was some carbonation early, but it disappears pretty quickly. Looks interesting enough though.

Nose is a little spicy and a little tart, with a decent whack of body funk in there as well. Some of the herbal qualities come through—to be honest, I don't know what a lot of the herbal additions smell like, but I do get a little of the crisp balmy sweetness of elderflower, and certainly some other earthy, but fragrant tones. The acidity is certainly noticeable from the front too. Smells good.

Taste is also pretty nice. Clean acidity front front to back, with a little upkick from the herbs that make it taste slightly earthy and organic. The tartness gives it a vinous quality in the centre and towards the back, maybe like an aged chardonnay. Finish is quite dry, but with a linger from the acid that definitely adds length, and an almost moreish bite. Feel is slick, but flat. It works well enough, but only adds to the sensation that I'm drinking wine, not beer.

Overall, it's certainly the most coherent and most drinkable of Red Duck's gruits I've had. The herbal qualities come through, but they also integrate well with the beer as a whole. In the end it's quite a tasty package.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Red Duck RA#2 Imperial Egyptian Bread Beer
Reviewed by Jez on 23.03.13 in bottle
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)
330ml brown bottle purchased on-site from the brewery.

Pours a flat, thick and extremely hazed orange-yellow colour. Body is very thick, and the small amount of yeast sediment forms a very strange dance in the glass. It also seems strangely stratified: the top is a much lighter yellow, and there's a deeper orange stripe directly underneath it. Overall: just fucking weird. And that's fine by me.

Nose is undoubtedly also very weird: striking acidity brings to mind a young white wine, but it's blended with a funky, dirty character, like soil or clay. Some bread characters, myrrh, middle eastern spice and a phenolic, sharp boozy note. I stand by my original statement: fucking weird.

Taste is clean and acidic for the most part, with odd buttery, bready and juniper tones towards the back. There's a fruity acidity that becomes more prominent on the finish: more juniper, tart apricot and cranberry. Despite it's apparent 11.3% ABV, it feels quite light, fluid and slushy in the mouth. Real astringency on the back, with an almost puckering dryness.

Feel is light and clean, until the astringency rips every suggestion of moisture out of the mouth. It's very strange.

Did I say "fucking weird"? Pretty sure I did, and nothing at all about this beer makes me change my initial perception. This is very strange: sour and clean, but spiked with insane weirdnesses even if you accept the basic premise of the beer. Red Duck, you are absolutely mental.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Gruit Expectations
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 22.12.12 on tap
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a gold colour, clear with sparse white foam for a head. I kind of expect a gruit to be darker, but I'm not really sure. It kind of looks like a bland Belgian pale.

Loads of spice on the nose: cinnamon, mint and clove coming through with a very slight sour tinge. Decent, and pleasant sweet backbone to keep it all in balance. All spice, but really quite nice.

Sweet palate, with lots more spice coming through. That sour edge on the nose doesn't translate here and I think the beer is better for it. Lots of sweetness, not too overboard on the spices. Cinnamon is a real winner here.

Body is a bit thin and flat. Can't expect too much I guess, but I'm wondering if it had less of a filtered feel if the sediment might add a bit more texture?

Quite similar to our homebrewed gruit, but the cinnamon is a big standout and wins the day for me, it really turns the oddness into a palatable drop. Well done.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Red Duck Gruiter
Reviewed by Jez on 16.10.12 in bottle
Overall:
51 / 100
(OK)
Bottle from Beer Cartel.

Completely uncarbonated, the body is a dark but very still oily brown hue. Weight is solid, but it maintains its fluidity, and doesn't form legs when swirled. Nor for that matter does it induce any sort of carbonation. It's a funny-looking beer, but that's absolutely to be expected.

Nose is spicy and sweet, with oily dark fruits coming through, along with a leathery, oaky, tannin-laced darkness. Brighter spice comes through as well: a hint of dried ginger and pepper, with a lilting hint of orange rind. It's complex and interesting, even if I've no sense whatsoever of where it's taking me.

Taste is much more acidic, with a strong acetic tone through the centre. It's really sharp, and overwhelms pretty much everything else. There's a rounded mildly sweet darkness hiding behind the acid on the back, but it's about all that can be perceived outside that really quite alarmingly brusque tartness.

Hooey. Sorry guys, but acid isn't a winner in and of itself. This ends up being a very one-dimensional beer once you start drinking it. The spicy, subtle complexities on the nose are absolutely bombarded into submission on the palate, meaning this is significantly less exciting than it should have been. It's a shame; it certainly had promise.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Gruit Expectations
Reviewed by Jez on 05.08.12 on tap
Overall:
74 / 100
(Very Good)
Traditional Belgian-style Gruutbier, brewed without hops. Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne.

Pours a deep golden colour with good clarity. Head is a just off-white filmy ring above the rather light weight body. Minimal lacing and almost no visible carbonation.

Nose is indeed spicy with gruut mixture. Big cinnamon characters, mingled with some aniseed myrtle and pepper. There's a plasticky tone to it as well, along with some fresher characters of crushed mint. Quite pleasant.

Peppery on the front, with more aniseed coming through, before some structure is provided from light grain characters on the mid-palate. On the back, it smooths out somewhat, giving some light cinnamon, along with some vanilla sweetness. The aniseed is still present after its sharp vectoral punch through the palate, but it recedes here in the face of the softness. Aftertaste is left quite clean.

Surprisingly drinkable for a beer style that is clearly quite alien to most modern palates. It makes for a fascinating experience, and a well put together one.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Red Duck Canute The Gruit
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 04.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
49 / 100
(Not Great)
Pours a dark chocolate colour, brown around the edge. Head is lacklustre, just a cloud but a vigorous swirl revives to a thin, dense film. Beige lacing is OK. Bit blah.

Smell is very coffee-esque with roast espresso hiding a slightly sour, dark berry aroma. Spice notes as well, but mostly an organic, almost charcoaly dark bitterness. Bit too much dark bitterness, doesn't really smell appealing.

Taste is insanely sour, and tastes like a mad scientist put it together. Hints of spicy espresso roastiness all the way through with a dark, sour cherry edge, some unripe berries and hint of red wine. The coffee notes underlying add a charcoaly edge that I'm not a fan of, but otherwise the sourness seems to mellow out with further sips, and actually becomes a bit watery. Bit of a pull on the back reminds you of the tartness. Very weird beer, can't say I particularly love any aspect though.

Bit of pull from the acidity, dries up late but otherwise flat and uneventful.

I think a greater malt presence and body would help this beer in every way. It's just lacking balance, and is mostly weird as a result.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Red Duck Canute The Gruit
Reviewed by Jez on 01.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
Purchased from Slowbeer, shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe

Pours a very dark brown, quite hazed and chocolate-coloured, with very minimal head—just a fine ring of mocha brown around the edge of the glass. Body looks quite thin, although it's almost completely uncarbonated, meaning it has a stillness and depth to it that's unusual. Looks weird, but interesting.

Nose is undoubtedly weird. Big roasted, almost smoky grain characters backed up with a brazen acidity and a spicy, earthy peppery bite, like arugula. It's a weird and oddly intoxicating mixture, but it's one that doesn't really entice me to take a sip.

Taste is certainly acidic, with a tartness on the front that only mellows late as the chocolate grains come through. Not a lot of the spice or earthy characters, and, authentic as it may be, the acidity reeks of unplanned homebrew-style infection. But that's just prejudice on my part—in fact, the acidity gives it a fine drinkability, and a refreshment I wasn't expecting at all.

A very interesting brew, but not a particularly complex one. The acidity is more pronounced than in other gruits I've had, and it lacks the odd complexity that some of them get. But still, it's great to see breweries trying such weird styles and doing a reasonable job at them.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Farewell Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 12.09.11 in bottle
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a very, very dark colour with red tinge when held right up to the light. Head is lovely, if a bit overexuberant - beige, dense and good retention. Lace is lovely and clingy.

Smell is roasty and smokey. dark malt with rich chocolatey notes, some sultana and citrus peel. Smokey meat with cured ham, white pepper and honey. Very pleasant nose, good complexities.

Taste is quite dark with loads of wood smoke that's quite light and meaty with touches of fruit glaze - orange, honey and plum notes. Oak wood and ham smokiness midway that gives way to an oddly salty finish. Could use a bigger malt presence with more dark roastiness just to ground it. The palate seems to get out of hand a bit towards the end and drifts away from the roastiness one should expect. Not bad, just finishes oddly.

Fairly full body but a bit of drag on the mid-palate that makes it leave a bit empty.

I can taste in this palate the beer this might have been. Unfortunately I have to look for it, as the best flavours here don't quite speak enough for themselves.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Grozet Gooseberry & Wheat Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 20.08.11 in bottle
Overall:
50 / 100
(Not Great)
I think this makes a perfect sweep of Williams Brothers' gruits for me. I think the Fraoch has been my favourite so far, let's see where this one stacks up.

Pours a rather insipid yellow colour, very clear, and with a muddled patchy head of large white bubbles. Looks very minimal and rather unappealing.

Nose is very yeasty and dry, with some rising bread dough characters, and an upturn of sweetness on the back which gives it a slight white grape or mild boysenberry sweetness to it. To be honest, I don't think gooseberries have a smell, so I'm surprised to find any berry character at all, but it's there.

Taste is minimal and very light, but it has a genuinely odd sweet-but-slightly-medicinal character that reminds me of some type of candy I had as a kid. I can't remember what it was, but it has that sense of nostalgia for me. Still, despite that tug at the heartstrings, it's a pretty bland brew, very light on flavour and character.

Very average brew, and pretty lacklustre, although it has a few interesting upturns that give a bit of a surprise.

appearance: 2.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.0 | drinkability: 2.5
Professor Fritz Briem 13th Century Grut Bier
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 03.02.11 in bottle
Overall:
48 / 100
(Not Great)
Pours a cloudy granny smith apple-juice colour, very opaque with whispy sunken head of large bubbles. Some sediment floaties and not much lace. Looks curious, but undeniably weird.

Smell traverses the undeniably weird line into fucking bizarre territory. Huge sour fruit with apple juice and some blackcurrant, and a massive spice hit - cinnamon, clove and licorice root and a good belt of hickory smoke as well on the back. Nutty and gingery and just apple-esque as well. I'd like to love something this bizarre but I can only really give it some cred for originality.

Having expected the taste to be overblown and bizarre, I'm disappointed that it's ultimately quite bland. Has that weak apple juice character up front that descends into a slightly tart mid with a touch of wood, then finish emerges with no lustre, slightly tart and drying with a hint of ginger and star anise, but mostly an insipid tartness. The flavours might - actually, make that, would - have been interesting, but there's just not enough of them. Weird, but also just a bit dull, sadly.

A bit thin on the body, but a decent enough texture. Maybe a bit sizzly though, yeah not a huge fan.

An odd beer for sure, but not really strong enough to be offensive. Can I drink it? Yes. Would I reach for one from my friend's ice bath at a party? No. What would it even be doing at my friend's party?
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Professor Fritz Briem 13th Century Grut Bier
Reviewed by Jez on 29.01.11 in bottle
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)

Purchased at K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA, and brought back to Australia to drink with @LaitueGonflable, @FakeCousinAndrew and @tobeerornottobe to celebrate the bottling of our Australian Gruit.

Initially, pours a very light coloured, and quite clear yellow, but the bottom half of the bottom, is filled with sediments and spice-chunks, leaving the beer ultimately cloudy as all hell, and slightly dark apple-juice coloured. Head is frothy but loose-bubbled, subsisting as a ring of white around the edges of the glass. Body is light.

Nose is incredibly redolent with hot spicy ginger, big rubbed herb characters and a peppery bite, that almost twists the whole thing into chemical weirdness. Very heavily spiced and incredibly unusual. Unlike anything I've had before.

Ginger disappears on the palate, leaving only the weird organics of crushed vegetation. Here, we get a heathery spice, an earth-and-root depth and a light crisp bite like lemon-tree leaves. Incredibly, it's very lively and refreshing, and the feel, while quite thin, gives some spritz and buoyancy to the thing as a whole.

Overall, it's quite a delicious beer, if one that is so far outside the realms of expectation. I'm so pleased to have been able to try this. I only wish I could have tried a Gruit from the past when all the ingredients were not only preservative, but also psychotropic.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Alba Scots Pine Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 04.09.10 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)

I love that I can get these beers in Sydney. I think this is my fourth Gruit from this brewery, all of which I've picked up around the place here.

Pours a very clear reddish amber colour, with almost no head. Even when poured vigorously, it only gives a slight white film of bubbles on the top. Body looks pleasantly thick, however, and there's a nice carbonation to it, even if it is rather static.

Nose is immediately odd. There's characters of floral honey to it, but certainly with something woody and organic as well. Spruce? Perhaps. I'm not that well versed in what spruce smells like. There's certainly something that gives it its lift though, and it's not a hop I've ever had. Interesting.

Quite a thin character on the palate, but with oddly sweet notes of strawberry. Finish is very slightly bitter, but there's a decent amount of sugary malt to put it together. Yeah, there's really something oddly fruity about the beer, even if the grain and wood notes come out a bit more prominently on the back. Again, it's interesting, if not particularly complex or robust.

I'll say it again, I like that I can get these beers here. I love trying something interesting, and while this isn't the greatest beer I've ever sampled, it certainly fulfills "interesting".

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 07.05.10 in bottle
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a dark espresso brown with mediocre beige head that dissipates, leaving a meagre ring of foam. Lace is fairly non-existent, bordering on actually non-existent. Pretty poort, a first-year homebrew student could create this look.

Nose is fairly sweet/dark. Can't really sense any elderberries, but there's a fair amount of vanilla providing sweet aromas, along with a decent chocolatey note, reasonably dark but not roasty bitter. Maybe a slight floral note, but it just sort of smells like fresh vanilla (as opposed to extract). Reminiscent of the Kelpie Seaweed actually, which makes me want to mark both down in terms of unique ingredient use. Not bad but yeah, just nothing special.

Tastes far more xomplex. Predominantly dark with some nice unsweetened chocolate character on the start and continuing towards the mid where it becomes bitter, giving some espresso ground bitterness. Some vanilla notes on the front as well, maybe a little creamy as well. The more interesting flavour emerges on the mid, and continues to the finish, and it is a slight spicy/fruity character, fresh and slightly floral with a prominent nectar tinge to it. Gives a spicy, slightly tart edge to the back, hints of green pepper and rose petals providing a more phenolic bitterness which make this ale good. Apart from those it's a standard dark mild ale, but it gives it a spunk and challenges the palate a bit.

Mouthfeel is smooth with a slight sharpness to the texture, almost like smooth stone - cool to the touch and polish but somehow hard. Almost brackish. Yeah, I have doubts about this beer's ability to lather.

Still a gentle quaffing ale, mild but interesting.
appearance: 2.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 29.01.10 in bottle
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)

Pours a semi-opaque black, with deep brown colours at the edges when held to light. Head is a filmy ring of light ochre. Some lacing, but not a lot. Looks quite heavy in the body, with a surprisingly nice static carbonation around the rim when swirled. Look quite tasty.

Sweet oatmeal characters on the nose. Grain is dominant, and the sweetness is pronounced. Overall, it's a little one dimensional, although the dark, grainy note has a depth to it. Possibly the elderberries add this, but I'm not sure enough to say it for certain. Overall, it's a nice nose, without ever really standing out.

Mouthfeel is quite thin, which is evident from the first sip. Fortunately, the taste is pleasantly odd. Certainly thin roasted grain notes around the edges, but theres a light sweet and slightly rank note through the centre which I'm sure is the elderberry. It reminds me of something else I can't put my finger on - maybe marzipan or liquorice. Something sharp and a little acidic. It's a nice character, and leavens the beer out of what would otherwise be rather thin and generic slush.

Drinkable enough, without having a huge amount of character. It has some uniqueness, which I appreciate, but I'm not convinced that the uniqueness in itself is enough to pull it out of mediocrity. It tastes a little bland overall.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Kelpie Seaweed Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 15.12.09 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a dark brown colour, slightly red and ominous in character. Head is light and thin, dissipates quickly, leaving a thin beige ring. Hints of speckly lace. Not bad, looks quite like a bock, but thinner. Nice colour.

Nose is quite roasty and fairly sweet as well. Light hints of toffee on there, with a sour barley grain edge. Lots of cocoa-rich chocolate and a distinctly odd saltiness lingering at the back. Almost a duck-egg aroma, but blends very nicely with the dark sweetness to provide a very interesting fragrance.

Taste is interesting. Roasted porter-style malt at the front with a hint of chocolate then takes on a gravy powder kind of savoury character, before turning slightly bitter towards the back, with a nice phenolic edge, but light and feels quite high and dry on the palate - not gravelly but there's a slight kick to it. Has a nice herbal mediciney bitterness really, pleasantly balanced but a little thin. Renders it quite drinkable though.

Mouthfeel is a bit watery but enough to make it slick, gentle fizz at the back. Pretty good.

Quite quaffable. Has a slight tickle at the back which is enjoyable, and flavour is subdued but balanced.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Kelpie Seaweed Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 14.12.09 in bottle
Overall:
40 / 100
(Not Great)

Pours a deep dark brown colour, with tinges of red at the edges. Head is very minimal, just a tiny, loose-bubbled collar around the edge. Lacing is also absent. Body looks a bit thin. To be honest, I'm not enamoured of it, in fact, I feel a little bit of trepidation when I look at it.

Dark grainy notes on the nose. Toasted bread aromas, with light hints of caramel and a little cocoa sweetness. Not huge, and the flavours are a little generic, especially considering what was expected, but it's pleasant enough.

Quite thin on the palate. A slight roasty character, and a dry chocolate note later on, but the feel is woefully thin, leaving just a spent grain character to go with some fine-bubbled but overzealous carbonation. Feels like a very disappointing attempt at a dark ale, much lacking in body, depth and flavour. Mouthfeel in particular is disappointing.

Sorry guys, this just doesn't cut it for me - despite the uniqueness of the recipe, it doesn't have nearly enough on the palate, leaving it flaccid and weak. True, the main characters it has are dark grainy notes, but they exist in isolation with nothing else to back them up. Probably chuggable, but otherwise disappointing.

appearance: 2.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | drinkability: 2.5
Fraoch Heather Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 13.02.09 in bottle
Overall:
56 / 100
(Decent)

Picked up at Sackville Bottleshop, Rozelle. What an interesting find.

Pale, slightly cloudy straw yellow colour, with a fine bubbles but loose and filmy head of pure white foam. Some lacing around the edges, but very little carbonation visible. Looks ok.

Very odd aromas on the nose -> smoke, poster paint and leather polish are what spring to mind. Also a citrus or vegetative green note to it. Quite odd. Although the notes aren't entirely pleasant, they do sit together quite well.

Flat palate with a thin small-beer flavour of diluted malt. Some rather harshly bitter characters around the edges; like the bitterness of hops without the pleasant fruit or spice characters of hops. It's not very bitter, but the bitterness is unfamiliar. Mouthfeel is quite smooth with not a lot of carbonation, but not very full.

Back palate of odd crushed vegetable notes, a little rancid, but for all that, not unpleasant.

A really strange brew, not something I'd like every day, but on oddity that was worth trying. I wonder if hop-infused beers would taste as bizarre to the ancient Scots.

appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Fraoch Heather Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 13.01.09 in bottle
Overall:
44 / 100
(Not Great)
Pours a pale yellow-orangey with a thin but sticky head that from the top looks like a slice of orange. Lots of carbonation especially around the edge which periodically lets go and goes for a ride to the top. Fair amount of lacing but not very dense. Not perfect, but nonetheless full of character.

Orangey citrus notes on the nose but maybe I've just got oranges on the mind. Slight herbacious character lingering on the back but mostly a zesty kind of fruit character, and yeah, not very aromatic at this chilled stage.

Quite a fruit palate as well, quite light and frothy with a slight tartness that announces itself quite meekly, without any mouth-puckering or courage (speaking both literally and metaphorically there). Quite a sweet finish actually, with the only bitterness coming somewhere between the front and the middle of the palate topography. Finish is like a light unwooded Chardonnay, ie. crap. Again, warming up may go some way to improving the character, but it's otherwise not a stupefying drop anyway. Mouthfeel is quite thing and although its lack of body makes it drinkable, this beer is otherwise a disappointment to its parents, its family and its country.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 3.0