Icarus Big In Sheboygan

This beer came highly recommended to me by the Beer Manager at Cranbury Buy Rite.

ABV: 6.9%

Style: Scottish Gruit/Ancient Herbed Ale

Trivia: According to wikipedia.com, “Sheboygan is a city in and the county seat of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 49,288 at the 2010 census. It is the principal city of the Sheboygan, Wisconsin Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Sheboygan River, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Milwaukee and 64 mi (103 km) south of Green Bay. Before its settlement by European Americans, the Sheboygan area was home to Native Americans, including members of the Potawatomi, Chippewa, Ottawa, Winnebago, and Menominee tribes. In the Menominee language, the place is known as Sāpīwāēhekaneh, ‘at a hearing distance in the woods’. Migrants from New York, Michigan, and New England were among the first white Americans to settle this area in the 1830s, though the French had been present in the region since the 17th century and had intermarried with local people. One 19th century settler remarked: ‘Nearly all the settlers were from the New England states and New York.’ Lumbering was the first major industry, as trees were harvested and shipped to eastern markets through the Great Lakes. Although Sheboygan was officially founded in 1846, much of the town had been platted in 1836, when property investors laid out more than one thousand lots. By 1849, a wave of liberal, middle-class immigration triggered by the revolutions of 1848 had made the community known for its German population. As Major William Williams wrote on June 26, 1849: ‘Arrived at Sheboigin [sic] on the Wisconsin side, a small town, population purhaps [sic] from 700 to 1000. This is a promising place. There are a great many best class of Germans settling around it. “Tis all along this Lake so far quite an interesting country.”‘ Between 1840 and 1890, Protestant Dutch immigrants also settled in the area, as did Irish refugees fleeing the Great Famine.”

Random: I remember as a child in the 90s, watching a few movies where the characters said that they were from Sheboygan.

This beer poured with a one finger, white head. It dissipated at a moderate pace, but left some lacing on the glass. The body was am amber color with a lot of visible carbonation. The nose was very sweet. I picked up honey and lactose along with some spice. There was ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon. The taste was equally sweet. The honey and lactose came first. There was a grain note that quickly went into cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger. The body was medium thickness with a lot of carbonation. It had a lengthy and sweet finish. I enjoyed this beer a lot. It made for a nice holiday nightcap.

Untappd Rating: 4.5/5.0

Rock Art A River Runs Gruit

Anytime I have a gruit, I always think that I need to have them more often. Let’s see how this one was.

ABV: 5.2%

Style: Scottish Gruit/Ancient Herbed Ale

Trivia: According to wikipedia.com, “Gruit (alternately grut or gruyt) is an herb mixture used for bittering and flavouring beer, popular before the extensive use of hops. Gruit or grut ale may also refer to the beverage produced using gruit. Historically, gruit is the term used in an area today covered by the Netherlands, Belgium and westernmost Germany. Today however, gruit is a colloquial term for any beer seasoned with gruit-like herbs. Gruit was a combination of herbs, commonly including sweet gale (Myrica gale), mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea), horehound (Marrubium vulgare), and Calluna heather (Calluna vulgaris). Gruit varied somewhat, each gruit producer including different herbs to produce unique flavors and effects. Other adjunct herbs included juniper berries, ginger, caraway seed, aniseed, nutmeg, cinnamon, and hops in variable proportions.”

Random: There was no information about this beer on the brewery website.

This beer poured with a half a finger of white head on top of a pink-orange body. There was moderate carbonation visible. The head dissipated almost instantly and left some lacing on the glass. The nose was very fragrant. There was a lot of lavender and chamomile along with some juniper. The taste started with a lot of herbal tea. Specifically, I picked up chamomile and some mint along with juniper. There was a floral note as well. The body was on the lighter side with moderate carbonation. It had a medium length finish with herbal tea. I’m not sure how much this beer was, since it was received as a gift, but either way, I enjoyed it.

Untappd Rating: 3.5/5.0

Off Color Prisoner’s Dillema

I’ve been reviewing a lot of Off Color beers lately and that’s because they’re easily available in Jersey now. Let’s see how this one was.

ABV: 5.4%

Style: Scottish Gruit/Ancient Herbed Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “This herbal beer was inspired by the story of James Squire, a British convict banished to Australia in the 18th century. He was later caught stealing horehound and pepper from a local pharmacy to use in his homebrew, which he sold to people around town, including the local authorities. Instead of execution they sentenced him to 150 lash of the whip. After his sentence was up he became a successful businessman and was celebrated for first cultivating hops in Australia. Prisoner’s Dilemma is brewed with horehound for (a sharp and menthol- like) bittering as well as coriander, grains of paradise, and costmary (another historically significant herb that is nearly impossible to source so Dave grew some in the back of the brewery). The name Prisoner’s Dilemma is based on a concept in game theory but economic theory is beyond the scope of this webpage.”

Random: Val loves baking shows on tv and I’m finally starting to get into them.

The beer poured with a half a finger of cream-colored head that hung around for awhile, but left very little lacing on the glass. A crown was left on top of the hazy, mahogany body. There were some floaties and generous carbonation visible. The nose was relatively mild. It had some pine along with some floral notes and malt. The taste was much of the same. It had some nice, herbal notes with juniper and rosemary and then went into malt and floral notes. The body was on the medium side with just enough carbonation. It had a medium length finish with herbs. A bottle was $3.25, which came to $.27 per ounce. Gruits are one of my favorite styles of beer at this did not disappoint. I would get this one again, but it’s only available as a Fall seasonal.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Mystic Freak Scene

Two things I love: Mystic beers and gruits. Hopefully this goes well.


ABV: 7%

Style: Scottish Gruit/Ancient Herbed Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “While we like experimenting with ingredients all year long, February 1st is the day we really get to have fun with our recipes. Along with other like-minded breweries around the world, we will be delving into a style nearly lost to time, gruit. Like the original brewers, we forgo hops in favor of herbs, spices and other rarely-seen brewing ingredients. This year we’re especially excited to debut this year’s selection, which will have been brewed in our new brewhouse by our new head brewer Charlie Cummings. Charlie’s lineup incorporates the traditional ingredients of ancient gruits with modern flavors. All of these will be brewery only and in extremely limited quantities so if you want a taste, make sure to drop by our Chelsea location on February 1st! Our tap room will be open from 4-9, but usual hours will resume Wednesday.”

Random: The website had no information about this beer.

This beer poured with a two finger, slightly off white head that dissipated quickly. It left no lacing on the glass with a quarter finger of crown. The body was a murky, dark brown, almost like dirty pond water. There was still a lot of carbonation visible. The nose started with a musty yeast note and then had a burnt maple flake. It also had an herbal note with tea. The taste started with the same musty yeast note and sweet malts. The next flavor to come through was honey and then the herbal tea flavor came through. It had a rather thick body, but a lot of carbonation. There was no alcohol detectable. The finish was quick with the honey and tea flavors. A bottle of this was expensive at $24 ($1.09 per ounce). This was interesting and drinkable, but not the best selection I’ve had from the brewery.

Untappd Rating: 3.5/5.0

Williams Brothers Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale

Tonight’s selection is a beer I picked up in New York and knew nothing about it. I haven’t read any reviews or anything. Let’s see how it was.


ABV: 6.5%

Style: Scottish Gruit/Ancient Herbed Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Elderberry ale has formed part of Celtic tradition since it was introduced by Welsh druids in the 9th century, where the ale was passed around the people of the village during the Autumn festival. Our recipe was taken from a 16th century record of domestic drinking in the Scottish Highlands and is brewed with roasted barley & chocolate malt, then infused with elderberries to deliver a dark, rich, fruity beer with a strong single hop aroma and satisfying bitter conclusion.”

Random: “Quantico” is one of my favorite shows.

The brew poured with a one finger, tan head that dissipated slowly. It left no lacing on the glass. The body was a dark brown color, yet clear. There was moderate carbonation visible. The nose started with roasted malts with a red berry note. I assumed this was elderberry. There was also some ash at the end of the sniff. The taste had light roasted malts and ash. It quickly went into a marked red berry note that almost took a floral quality. The beer had an herbal quality as well, but the dominant flavor was the red berry. The body was thin with light carbonation. It had a lengthy finish with red berry and smoke. A single bottle was $2.99 ($.25 per ounce). This was an interesting beer, but not one that I feel the need to revisit.

Untappd Rating: 3.5/5.0

Cambridge Brewing Company Weekapaug Gruit Ale

So, for Christmas I was lucky enough to get a lot of wonderful gifts. One of those exceptionally wonderful gifts is a kegerator. My sister bought it for me and when I opened it, I was totally excited. I think she’s pretty excited too since it has two taps, I’m going to have a fruit beer on for her. That would be my project for Sunday. Anyways, onto this brew that was left over from the Massachusetts stash.

ABV: 5%

Style: Scottish Gruit/Ancient Herbed Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Produced for centuries, long before the use of hops, Gruit (pronounced “grew-it” or “groot”) was what beer was throughout the Middle Ages. Our contemporary interpretation of gruit is brewed with malted barley, wheat, and oats, and fermented with our Belgian yeast. It also incorporates the traditional brewing herbs sweet gale, yarrow, and wild rosemary, along with Labrador tea, licorice root and nettles, all organic and wildcrafted. This full-bodied, deep amber ale has a pleasant herbal tea-like aroma and flavor balanced by rich malt character, followed by a satisfying, dry finish and a hint of tartness. So whether you’re enjoying it with phriends or with phamily, we’re all sharin’ in the Weekapaug Gruit!”

Random: This bottle is from Batch 001. Pretty cool.

This brew poured with pretty much no head whatsoever. Shockingly, it didn’t leave any lacing either. The body was a clear, chestnut color with moderate carbonation. The nose was strong and very floral and herbal. I got a lot of lavender and rosemary. The taste was just like the nose with a lot of floral and herbal qualities. Lavender was the standout on this one. A touch of lemon coupled with a tartness at the end of the sip made this quite pleasant. The rosemary got lost in the flavor. I tend to not be a huge fan of the style, but this one is nice. The body is thin with medium carbonation. The finish was medium carbonation with some of the lemon tartness. I didn’t know what to expect from this one, but CBC definitely delivered. I would have this one again for sure.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Cambridge Brewing Company Heather Ale

As usual, I’m backlogged on reviews. But, I’ve actually broken down and brought my computer to Kate’s. Since I’m technically going back and forth between two places, I was leaving the computer at my sister’s. But, I end up in Fair Haven more than Manalapan, so I moved the computer. I’m hoping that this leads to more regular updates, especially since Kate busts me that I never update.

ABV: 5%

Style: Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “From out of the darkness of pre-recorded history, Heather Ale is an altogether unique brew. Originally crafted by the inhabitants of coastal Northern Europe, Scandinavia, and the Northern British Isles, fresh heather flowers and other herbs were used to balance and flavor the rustic yet sweet toasted character of the malted barley. Its brewing tradition existed long before the advent of hopped beers, and has continued, sporadically, in small rural communities for millennia. Brewed with imported Scottish floor-malted barley, fresh hand-harvested heather flowers were added to the kettle during the boil along with sweet gale and lavender, with a further addition of fresh heather and yarrow to the conditioning tanks. Each year the CBC brewstaff handpicks the fresh herbs for this beer from a field along the Atlantic Coast, and adds them into the brewkettle the very next day. The aroma and flavor are a surprising jog of ancient memory, with commingling subtle notes of heather and honey and an obscure wildflower spiciness complemented by the interplay of mild but assertive, toasty-sweet malt. Medium bodied, light amber-gold in color, with a dry finish that hints at tartness. Special thanks to our friends for their support with this year’s heather harvest. Slainte!”

Random: This is another one from the MA stash. Yes, I’m still whittling that down…one of the benefits of being in 2 different places.

This one poured with a one finger, pure white head that dissipated quickly and left no lacing on my glass. It did leave a slight crown on top of the body that hung around forever. The body was a clear, dark amber color with lots of seltzery carbonation visible throughout. The nose was dominated by this sweet floral smell that I could only imagine were heather flowers. The taste was like liquified potpourri sachet. It reminded me of very floral soap. It also reminded me of lavender. Although I found it to be interesting, I couldn’t get anything else from the beer except it’s odd floral characteristic. Maybe at the end I got some malt? The body was pretty thick with lots of carbonation. The finish was long and floral. I’m glad I tried this one, but I won’t be searching this one out again.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Williams Brothers Kelpie Seaweed Ale

What a day. I’ve been on conference calls all week and when I came home today, I was absolutely exhausted. I laid down to take a nap and woke up at 0030. This means that I’m going to be up most of the night, not good. So, why not get a little caught up with some reviews? This is another beer that I purchased because I’ve never had the style before. Add to this, that the brew is made with seaweed. I like seaweed on my sushi but I’m not sure what to expect of it in a beer.

ABV: 4.4%

Style: Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Prior to the 1850’s Scottish coastal alehouses brewed with malted barley, grown in fields fertilised by seaweed. This environment gave the barley a very specific flavour which we recreate by the inclusion of fresh seaweed in the mash tun. A rich dark chocolate ale, which has the aroma of a fresh Scottish sea breeze and a distinctive malty texture.”

Random: The Phils won tonight. They’ve been playing like absolute crap lately, so this makes me think there’s hope.

This brew poured with a half a finger of tan head that dissipated relatively quickly and left some lacing on the pint glass. The body was a dark brown color and clear with moderate, visible carbonation. For some reason, I didn’t think that the body was going to be so dark. The nose was definitely interesting. I got chocolate, sweetness and an indescribable herbal component. I assumed that this was the seaweed, but having never stuck my face in seaweed, I couldn’t confirm it. The taste was a bit different than the nose. I got a creamy, chocolate flavor, but the herbal component was lost in the taste. I would have never assumed from the taste alone that there was seaweed in this beer. The body was towards the thicker side with moderate carbonation. The body was silky and pleasant. The finish was quick. This beer reminded me a bit of a porter. It was a sessionable brew with some decent flavor on it, but nothing overwhelming. I would definitely have this one again.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0