Prior to A.D. 1000, when residents of northwest Germany began to cultivate hops, brewers seasoned their beers with an herbal mixture called gruit. Now that humanity has figured out hop farming (high five!), herbs are still a part of beer, but play a more subtle role in contemporary styles.
Epic Utah Sage Saison
Distinctly earthy sage still allows the excellent base saison’s aroma to shine through; it synchs up with zesty peppercorn in the nose. Fresh, sweet sage greets the tongue first, flanked by sunny lemon and white peppercorn. Herbal bitterness and zippy carbonation make this a refreshing companion to backyard dinners.
NOLA 7th Street Wheat
A crisp wheat beer brewed with lemon basil is a cool, canned antidote to the Big Easy’s notorious summer humidity. A thread of citrusy basil weaves through clean, crackers malts, ending with a dollop of fresh, spicy basil leaf flavor.
The Lost Abbey 10 Commandments
Rosemary, honey and raisin additions combine with a Belgian dark strong ale’s dark malts for layers of rich, spicy flavor; this is definitely meant for slow contemplation. Just a smidge of piney rosemary peeks out between port wine, malt and cocoa powder, grounded by deep, golden honey flavor.
Bison Honey Basil
Basil and honey—both organic—contribute floral intrigue to this aromatic amber ale; subtle, leafy flavor segues into ready and lightly toasted malts before the creamy finish. Even-keeled and not overly sweet, the beer leaves lingering toasty malts and mild, peppery basil on the tongue.
South Shore Northern Lights
A sessionable cream ale provides a quietly sweet platform for lavender and wood betony, which the brewery grows and then turns into tinctures that flavor the beer. Fresh grain and crisp corn sweetness begins the sip; a rustic, sagelike note (not unlike a woody, herbal hop flavor) provides a counterpoint and initiates the lightly bitter swallow.
Almanac Golden Gate Gose
The lemon verbena addition to this spot-on base gose lends a peppercorn and lemony citrus note to both aroma and flavor. White pepper and citrus blossom chase the soft, fruity wheat flavors before a rush of pleasant salinity and warm coriander asserts itself at the swallow. The not-too-tart brew is cohesive and easy-drinking, exactly right for an afternoon picnic.