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Beer Reviews

Herbal Cream Ale

South Shore Brewery
Ashland, WI

Style: Spice/Herb/Vegetable
ABV: 4.5%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

Pair With:
• Goulash
What with all the hop shortages and talk of home brewing gruits in lieu of IPAs, I remembered that there are, in fact, commercial versions of gruit out there and some, like South Shore’s Herbal Cream Ale, have been around for years.

South Shore’s version pours a light, semi-cloudy gold, finishing up with some chunky sedimentation from the bottom of the bottle. The head is pretty thin and fizzy, and disipates after a minute or so. Herbs are without a doubt on display in the nose, with a sweet, almost lavender-like aroma up front. There’s also light notes of weak tea in there.

The sipping is quite sharp and crisp: hops are in there, just not a lot of them (relatively speaking, of course—Bud Light and other shit beer drinkers would probably find this beer too hoppy, since the hops are actually detectable) and a tiny shot of bitterness serves as an intro. Next come the tea notes from the nose, although much more pronounced, mixed with a lightly sweet, medicinal herb flavor. This herbal/tea character grows stronger as the beer warms, eventually coming to completely dominate each sip. The body hovers somewhere around light to light-medium, and the only malt evidence is the distinct bite of pilsner malts at the very end.

Herbal Cream Ale is South Shore’s most distinctive brew, and deserves a taste if you’re at all interested in the world of gruits. Although I found it light, crisp, and refreshing, I will admit that, like IPAs and giant stouts, it’s not for everyone. Even so, this is a perfectly executed take on a historic style. So shut up and drink your herbs.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on March 27, 2008.
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