Bison Brewing out of Berkeley, California is known for brewing only all-organic beers, and with 21 years of experience behind them they have a pretty good handle on what they’re doing. I’ve previously reviewed their Chocolate Stout and Gingerbread Ale (which also earns some “unusual” cred), but it was their Honey Basil Ale that caught the eye earlier in the month (from our visit to Belmont Station in Portland over Labor Day weekend) and definitely qualifies as an unusual beer: I’m pretty sure I’ve never had a beer brewed with basil before.
This Bison classic is infused with organic honey for its aroma and a hint of sweetness and fresh organic basil to lend a slight herbal note and basil aftertaste—a perfectly refreshing brew.
At 6% ABV,
Appearance: Hazy-cloudy orange-copper color, with dirty white, thick head.
Smell: A hint of basil on the nose, otherwise a bit mead-like pale ale aromas with a sharpness, maybe like cut green grass.
Taste: Nice drinkable pale-amber with sweet notes from the honey and a green bright character (presumably from the basil). It’s a bit different from the usual hop character that would produce that—it’s herbal—almost tea-like. A bit of caramel in there too, which would seem like it would clash but it doesn’t.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a creamy texture, a bit of a bite to it.
Overall: It’s a flavor pairing that catches the eye, and the beer is pretty good too. A summery amber ale with the fresh notes from the basil and the residual honey sweetness, well worth trying if you get the chance.