Monday, June 27, 2011

Bison Organic Honey Basil

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (630) - Albany, USA - JUN 26, 2011
I’ve never been a big fan of the umbrella of styles known as "spice/herb/vegetable" (unless you count pumpkin beers). Brewers tend to clear off their spice rack when making these brews without thought to true taste and balance. Thankfully, that’s not the case with Bison Organic Honey Basil. It’s difficult to categorize as a more traditional style that happens to be brewed with honey and basil. In fact, I’d say it’s the only beer that I’ve had to date that really owns the s/h/v style.

I poured a 12oz bottle into a tumbler

Appearance: Hazy shade of burnt umber or dark orange. Forms a small, tan, soapy head which eventually dissipates completely, but does leave some lacing.

Smell: Honey, basil, ginger, tea leaves, incense, and a potpourri of herbs.

Taste: While the bottle describes this beer as having "hints" and "subtle" notes of basil and honey, I think the opposite is true. As prominent as the spices are in the nose, they’re even stronger in the palate. The first half is a potpourri flavor of honey, flowers, and ginger, with the second half consisting of strong basil spice. It’s reminiscent of a homemade, authentic Italian spaghetti sauce or pizza. I almost want to sprinkle some parmesan cheese on this beer!

I’m genuinely impressed by the balance of flavors in this palate as the honey is noticeable, and gives the beer a sweetness, but doesn’t turn it into liquid candy as many beers do. The basil, combined with a mild hop bitterness, prevents it from being a totally cloying palate. The aftertaste is a strong homogenization of the honey and basil plus some ginger or potpourri-like flavors, too.

Mouthfeel: Slightly fizzy, medium, light spicy tingle.

Drinkability: For such a lively palate, Bison Organic Honey Basil is surprisingly refreshing, initially. It drinks like a medium to full-bodied beer with plenty of herbal robustness from start to finish. I did find the spices to become a little cloying as I drank, but it was easily tolerable. The 6% ABV seems a little high as this beer drinks like something much smaller and sessionable. Probably a great beer to pair with authentic Italian food.

Overall, one of the few spice/herb beers that I can get behind - and that’s quite rare coming from me.

Grade: 7/10

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