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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Beau's Bog Water Dirty Brown Ale

Before the introduction of hops, brewers used all sorts of herbs, spices, leaves and weeds to create unique and flavourful beers. The May issue of All About Beer magazine features an interesting article, by nationally recognized beer writer Randy Mosher, on these different ingredients.

Which brings us to Beau's All Natural Brewing Co's latest creation: Bog Water Dirty Brown Ale, a flavour packed brew that features Bog Myrtle picked from the wilds of northern Quebec by an Algonquin native instead of the more traditional hops.

I received a couple of bottles off co-founder Steve Beauchesne back in early March, the day after it was bottled, and it came from the back of Steve's van in an alley beside Beerbistro. A bunch of us stood around passing a bottle back and forth, good times. After giving some away to friends and drinking the Lug Tread Lagered Ale (flagship beer) I almost forgot I still had this one in the closet.

Last night I decided to pop the top of the beautiful German style ceramic bottle and try this unique Ontario produced beer. A loud pop from the swing top informed me that the brew was still in excellent condition and the aroma jumped from the bottle.

The beer pours a "dirty brown" (hence the name) with reddish tones peering through. At first, a nice, big fluffy mocha coloured head appears only to dissipate as my sips progressed into gulps.

Fruity esters, herbal notes (guessing from the myrtle), a strong sweety malty beer with a musty cardboardy smell. Now, I know that doesn't sound appealing to some, but aroma of this nature provides a promise of a tasty brew in the pint glass. Which was excellent in my opinion.

Bog Myrtle - aka sweet gale, is known for its spiciness and features some piney/resiny aromatics similar to that of hops. In his article, Mosher claims that bog myrtle was commonly used in medieval beers known as gruit, a un-hopped beer. With the introduction of hops, gruit beer made a hastily exit and its only now, in the wave of North America's craft brewers and their experimentation, can we enjoy a beer with such a historical background. Beau's used the entire plant - the branch, cone and leaf as each one provide a distinct flavour and aroma. The herbal comes from the branch, the bitterness from the leaf and the peppery spice from the cone.

The taste is really nice. A good evening sipper. The myrtle provides an earthy herbal and spicy mouthfeel that soothes the taste buds while leaving a malty coating behind. It has a light to medium body with a slight aftertaste that leaves you wanting another sip, which makes it a truly quaffable beer. At 6.6% though, the alcohol can creep up on you quickly.

The Bog Water Dirty Brown Ale was produced as Beau's first seasonal offering and by all accounts is has been a complete success. The beer (not sold in LCBO's) is available only at the brewery at select accounts close to Beau's.

Nice beer with a great story behind it! It seems Beau's is planning on releasing another seasonal this summer, a German Altbier Ale. "Matt's brewing the first batch as soon as he gets back from Tiajuana... er... San Diego. It's an altbier, a nice summer German Ale we hope you're gonna love." Stay tuned.

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