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
I poured a 12oz bottle into a tumbler
Hazy shade of burnt umber or dark orange. Forms a small, tan, soapy
head which eventually dissipates completely, but does leave some
Smell: Honey, basil, ginger, tea leaves, incense, and a potpourri of herbs.
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!
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.
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
Overall, one of the few spice/herb beers that I can get behind - and that’s quite rare coming from me.