Beau’s Tyrannosaurus Gruit Ale, Vankleek Hill, Ontario (Alcohol 5.8%) LCBO $7.95 and selected bars as well as through Beau’s BYOB program (600ml)
Last week I opened a bottle of this unusual gruit ale without reading the ever-excellent info card that Beau’s provide with all of their special batch beers. As part of their regular Wild Oats series, I was ready some something perhaps a little different, but nothing could have prepared me for what lay ahead…
I was tasting it late one night by the light of my computer monitor, and so I didn’t at first see the beer’s stunning bright purple/red colour… I guess that perhaps if I had clocked this I would have been a little more ready for the nose followed by the heady hit of beetroot on the palate. As much as I adore beetroots I wasn’t quite ready for a mouthful of them in a beer. After getting over my initial palate shock, I read the ingredients list and everything started to make some kind of sense.
The almost extinct Tyrannosaurus Gruit was brought back to life by Beau’s after a limited release in 2016, as apparently I’m not the only person who enjoys it. This esoteric botanical gruit is certainly not for everyone though, as can be witnessed by some terrible reviews on a few other websites. This tantilisingly well-balanced brew is augmented with organic beets grown locally in Acton Vale, Québec on the Desmarais Farm, jumped up with organic juniper berries, hibiscus flowers, and hand-harvested white spruce tips. So it’s quite the fruit/vegetable/herb basket.
The resultant beer is quite astonishing, not only for the pronounced and brilliantly striking hue in the glass (with a very small white coloured head), but for its delightful bouquet, a heady herbal and earthy aromatics that smell quite removed from the usual hop/malt combination found in most breweries’ offerings.
The palate is where the beets and hibiscus really begin to kick in. The carbonation is there but not in your face, the fruit/veg/herb components carried gracefully by some great tart acidity that really drives the entire palate, making it a beer for the table if ever there were one… I’ll be doing some experiments with this one over the coming weeks. After taking some time to mull this Tyrranosaurus Gruit over, the complexities and layers really begin to express themselves. Oh, and my three year old son adored the label of course!
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Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And although very different, this beer is pretty fascinating stuff.