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Beer of the Week: Bison Brewing Honey Basil Ale

We beer geeks like something different. An organic ale brewed using honey and basil is definitely one that counts as different, so I knew I had to try this summer offering from Bison Brewing. 

Bison Brewing announced the release of its Honey Basil Ale, a seasonal Bison classic since 1994. The brewers infused this unique ale with organic honey and organic basil. Honey lends a hint of sweetness and rich aroma, while fresh organic basil, in lieu of finishing hops, infuses a slight herbal note and basil aftertaste—a perfectly refreshing brew for the dog days of summer.

Bison Brewing, which recently partnered with Mendocino Brewing Company in Ukiah, CA, continues its 20-year tradition of brewing and bottling its award winning line of organic beers. Bison’s brewers include specialty ingredients to augment 4 primary ingredients: barley, hops, water, and yeast. With like-minded maltsters, hop co-ops, and brewing partners, Bison is committed to artisanal brewing with only the finest ingredients; Bison’s distinction for consumers in today’s craft beer marketplace is organic certification and innovative use of ingredients to craft award winning, drinkable beers that people remember.

“Like my other specialty brews, this year’s Honey Basil Ale uses specialty ingredients judiciously – we don’t hit you over the head with the ingredients, but rather hint at it,” says Brewmaster Daniel Del Grande. “All our beers focus on drinkability and balance, so after finishing the bottle I leave you wanting another! Some beers out there fatigue my palate; I like to enjoy a couple beers with food and friends.”

The aroma starts off a bit vegetal and slightly sour but changes as the frothy head diminshes.  After breathing a little bit, the basil emerges in the nose along with the sweet waxy scent of honey.  In the flavor, the two components seperate with honey coming across in the front end and a dried basil spice contributing to a mild finish.

All together this is a sessionable amber ale with some interesting flavors that should lend itself to pairing with food.  I would try something with a subtle herb spice that could use some accentuation. Maybe this is a beer that could go well with pasta for a change. I would also think this could be a good cooking beer.