Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Saturnalia Gruit by Salt Spring Island

The flavour profile of beer can be thought of the balance between sweetness and bitterness. Dopplebocks are closer to the sweet side, while IPAs drift toward the bitter side. Sweetness is provided by barley malts and bitterness is often provided by hops.This is not the case with the gruit style of beer. Before the regular use of hops, herbs and spices provided the countering bitterness and preservative properties need to enjoy a low alcohol, fermented beverage. We rarely get to sample beers where herbs and spices play a significant role in the flavour profile. This is why everyone should try the Saturalia Gruit.

Saturnalia Gruit =  8/10

From the start you know this brew is going to be different. Peculiar aromas of sweet herbals, burdock and licorice rise from this tar black beer. Things get off-setting at the first sip; this beer is assertively tart and sour. Not in a lambic way, more of a digestive bitter angle. Other odd flavours of burdock, licorice fern and cinnamon swirl around an indescribable herbal sweetness. The finish is sour, dry with a long linger. The gruit is not for everyone, but if you like sours you will like this one. It reminds me of those burdock and dandelion sodas you find in British sweets shops.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content 0 5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (nice labels with description of flavours you might expect)

Glassware: Whatever you have is fine. I would have used a stretched tulip.

Food Pairing: Good luck. Something quite sweet and spicy would resonate nicely. Perhaps toffee pudding with a hint of brandy.

Cellar: This might be a fun one to try, sort of a risk though. If those herbals flavours fade this will be one syrupy sweet beer.

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