I have to say, when I saw a beer called Bog Water on the shelf, it didn’t really sound like the most appealing thing ever. Then I noticed it was made by Beau’s, who always make great beer. A read of the label revealed this to be a gruit that used bog myrtle as a bittering agent instead of hops. Well, it happened to be International Gruit Day, so how could I say no?
Beau’s Bog Water gruit is brewed with hand-harvested organic bog myrtle (a deciduous shrub native to Northern Ontario and Québec). The bog myrtle contributes a sweet aroma, slight bitterness, and herbal, spicy notes suggestive of a digestif. A Belgian yeast profile makes Bog Water a very complex and contemplative winter ale.
- Style: Gruit ale
- Format: 600ml bottle
- Stats: 6.6% ABV; 10 IBU
- Cost: ~$10 (depends where you shop)
- Ingredients: Local spring water, organic barley malts, organic bog myrtle, organic hops, brewer’s yeast.
- Malts: Pilsner, munich, caraaroma, acidulated, carafa (all organic)
- Hops: Organic simcoe
- Yeast: Monastery ale
- ABV: 6.6%
- IBU: 10
- OG: 14.1° P
- FG: 2.0° P
- Serving temp.: 6-8° C
This beer pours out a dark mahogany colour, with two finger of foamy tan head that lasts a a few minutes before collapsing and leaving lots of puffy lacing.
The nose is very floral and has notes of dark fruits, with a spicy and earthy bitter undertone—not unlike the aroma of a barley wine. The palate is incredibly unique, kind of like a dubbel with notes of plum and caramel, but with strong herbal notes from the bog myrtle that bring to mind root beer and birch beer.
The mouthfeel is medium bodied with low-to-medium carbonation (think cask-conditioned). The typical bitter hop finish is replaced by a much more rustic and earthy bitterness that is offset by a touch of sweetness, which added a new dimension to the brew.
I have to admit, I’ve only tried a few gruits before, mostly a few spuce tip ales and one interesting one from Salt Spring Island Ales. It’s not a style that you see very often, but it seems to be making something of a comeback with the craft beer revolution. It’s not hard to see why, as the option to substitute hops for other bittering agents allows for a lot more experimentation.
I really liked the use of bog myrtle here, it added a nice herbal flavour to the beer that Beau’s described as being like cola, but I found more like birch beer or traditional root beer.
At first I found it a little odd that they used Simcoe hops as well as bog myrtle, but they just let me know that one of the reasons was that they were added as a preservative. This makes a lot of sense, as it probably wouldn’t taste all that great after cross-country shipping without a preservative!