Beers in Review: I am Gruit

Hello, everyone! I am back, and mostly better from the bug that sidelined me for part of the holiday weekend. I even have a couple of beers to write about, including two collaborations, one of which is a largely long-forgotten style that I had never heard of before.

That beer, you may have guessed, is known as a Gruit. It's a style of hopless, herbal drink that goes back into medieval times and further, gradually getting phased out throughout Europe between the 11th and 16th centuries. Gruit uses bittering herbs instead of hops in the brewing process. This particular Gruit, called This Is How We Gruit, is a collaboration between Tradesman Brewing Company in Charleston, SC and the owners of the bottle shop Craft and Draft here in Columbia. Pouring a muddy gold, this particular Gruit was brewed with ginger, mugwort, juniper berries, rosemary, and several other spices. This beer is very straight-forward--ginger and massive herbal notes come through unabated. It is not sweet, and possesses a very slight bitter note, and a somewhat odd herbal aftertaste. I regret to say that I only finished about 3/4 of a pint. I didn't dislike the beer, by any stretch, but it was drastically different from anything I had ever had before, and by about the halfway point of the pint, I found it to be quite taxing to drink. I pushed through a few more ounces before tapping out. Still, no regrets in having this beer; it was a neat drinking experience.

Second is an offering from Revelry Brewing Company and Octohops Homebrew, both in Charleston, SC. The Octohops guys have been competitively homebrewing for awhile, and they teamed with Revelry to brew a version of their Wise One Hefeweizen which will be entered in next month's Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am competition. The beer pours hazy gold, and has a nice depth of flavor. Mild grain notes blend well with nice spice notes. I detected a hint of citrus as well, I think. The beer is bright and crisp. A nice hefe for the ongoing hot weather here in South Carolina.

Finally, I have Shiner Strawberry Blonde from Spoetzel Brewery in Shiner, Texas. The beer pours a nice golden color, and while my nose is still a bit stuffed up, I had no trouble whatsoever picking up a mighty and pleasing strawberry aroma coming from the beer. The taste has less of the strawberries, but they are still a notable presence in the flavor profile. The beer is quite carbonated, so that the overall effect is very much like that of an unsweetened strawberry soda. A cool effect is that you can pretty well taste all the parts of the strawberry, as in the fruit AND the seeds--there is also a bit of a green plant note, almost as if the stems were also added during the fruit add for this beer. There may also be a slight grainy note, as well, though that just may be me interpreting the greenery notes. The aftertaste is slight but not off-putting, as it almost totally evokes the strawberries.