I picked up this offering from Picaroons (Fredericton, New Brunswick) at RockHead Wine & Beer Market in Halifax and it was a surprise in every way. Based on the name, I assumed it was a wee heavy, so the first surprise came when I realized it was a gruit. I’d never had the style before, and after Googling it, I was skeptical: it’s an ancient style of unhopped ale, using heather tips and flowers. With that in mind, I cracked open the bottle fully prepared to hate it.
From the brewery: Plaid to the Bone Heather Ale is a 4.5% abv ale made with heather tips and flowers created especially for the upcoming New Brunswick Highland Games Festival.
Appearance: Hazy and golden, with a thin pearly head. Minimal lacing.
Aroma: A big nose of wild flower and…sweaty feet. Seriously: there’s a dank, mushroomy, sweaty funk there—like damp tennis shoes on a hot summer day.
Taste: To my manifest relief, the funky qualities don’t continue into the taste. There’s a little bit of mushroominess, but it’s mostly clean and faintly sweet, with a slightly floral finish.
Mouthfeel: Light and easy drinking, ideal for a hot summer day.
Overall: As this is the first and only gruit I’ve ever tasted, I can’t really say how it represents its style, but it stands on its own as a unique and pleasantly surprising beer.
Regular contributor and guest reviewer Trevor J. Adams is senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine. In 2012, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing). You can see what Trevor is drinking on Untappd and follow him on Twitter.