Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Beer Diviner Ancient Gruit Ale

3.3
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (849) - Albany, New York, USA - APR 9, 2013
I poured a 22oz bottle into a goblet. There was no freshness date, though I’d imagine it’s a fresh bottle since I bought it straight from the brewer himself for $5 ($0.23 per ounce).

Appearance: Dark brown/mahogany hue. A tea-like appearance that’s noticeably hazy. Forms a small, yellow, soapy head which evaporates quickly and almost completely. No lacing.

Smell: A strange herbal potpourri and a slightly soured fruit aroma, like cider and Brettanomyces.

Taste: Here’s the thing about gruits and herbal beers - people tend to either love them or hate them. I know that’s how the majority of drinkers will likely react to The Beer Diviner Ancient Gruit Ale. It’s an acquired taste for sure since these herbs aren’t your typical craft beer adjuncts. Wormwood, honey, grains of paradise and some other African-style herbal components create for a strange taste. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. What’s odd is the honey and the spices combine to form a slightly bile-like sensation. That’s not just my opinion, I know several other people who have mentioned having a similar reaction to it. To be fair, I found that particular flavor to be only noticeable for a moment and then mostly on the finish.

As for the main palette itself it’s reminiscent of a strong, spicy, hot cider you have for Thanksgiving or Halloween. It also has similar characteristics of a higher-end sorghum-based gluten-free beer. Additionally, I get some red apple flavor, a bit of smoky astringency (likely due to the Maris Otter floor malted Scottish malt), an herbal twang, and some peanut shell earthiness. These flavors are best described as interesting rather than good or bad per se.

Drinkability: The true drinkability of this beer lies not in its delivery, but in whether your palate is the kind that enjoys an herbal beer like this. I would describe the drinking experience as being rather intense, though the mouthfeel itself is on the thinner, flatter side. In fact, I was a bit disappointed by how non-effervescent this beer was. Though potent at 9% ABV, the alcohol is well masked with no boozy character at all. If drank at fridge temp it’s actually quite refreshing, but becomes a sipper as it warms. The Beer Diviner Ancient Gruit Ale isn’t for everyone, but those that enjoy it will be able to appreciate its originality. 
Grade: 6/10