Burghead Heather Ale | Roots Organic Brewery

Liked This Beer
3.21 w/ 6 ratings

Brewed by:
Roots Organic Brewery
Oregon, United States

Style: Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Thrasher on 06-10-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 6 |  Reviews: 6
Reviews by Thrasher:
Photo of Thrasher
3.34/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is a hop-less beer, instead made with heather which is not comparably bitter but provides a pleasant floral crispness. It was a wholly opaque yellow-bronze color and the aroma weirded me out: much like an unwashed, well-used dishtowel. Not altogether offputting but definitely strange. The flavor was more promising, with an ample but not burdensome caramel malt sweetness that seemed nearly identical to Root's pale ale (and IPA for that matter - as if they keep the malt base the same for all three but tweak the hops, or in this case, the heather). The heather has some floral qualities but is mostly reminiscent of freshly turned soil. Despite these weird characteristics, the beer was refreshing and enjoyable if a bit too yeasty, like all of Roots' beers. But I can imagine someone who shies away from hops, or even beer in general, could really enjoy a pint of this on a hot day. This beer also has an entry (but no reviews) under Alameda, a relic I guess from the days when Nicholls brewed over there.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of msubulldog25
3.92/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Roots Brewery. Imperial pint for $2.50.

Menu claims this "award winning" beer comes from a 3,000 year old recipe and is made with no hops, instead using heather tips.

A: A light amber color with a thin white head, retains well. No lace but lots of effervescent carbonation.
S: An interesting malty and bready smell wafts from the pint. Grassy like wet hay, almost herbal. Some hints of wood and an odd grape-y smell that reminds me of a dry white wine, a reisling or gewurtztraminer maybe.
T: Many of the same flavors detected in the smell come through with a taste. Malty & grassy. Yeasty bread dough/pizza crust. Toasted malt. Has a nice balance between sweetness and bitterness; a good combination of flavors.
M: Very soft and extremely creamy mouthfeel. Texture is velvety. Light to medium body.
D: A very tasty, surprisingly refreshing brew. I give high marks to the brewers for this "experiment" in brewing without hops. Flavors are enjoyable and abv level is moderate enough to make this a session beer.

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Photo of Floydster
3.08/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Half pint at the brewery for three dollars and some change, reviewed from notes on my cell phone, color is a deep amber with some dark orange highlights, large one inch white foamy head, good retention, lacing at first, aroma consists of jasmine, various spices, grains, floral scents, juniper berries, and grass, flavor starts off with earthy flavors, middle is filled by grapefruit, oranges, and lemons, basically a ton of citrus, finish has an earthy flavor that fades very quickly, taste just goes away out of nowhere, earhty, dry, and citrusy mouthfeel, thin to medium bodied, moderate carbonation, minimal aftertaste, could not have drank a lot more of this stuff, pretty heavy after a while and taste does not last long at all, gets a little syrupy once it warms, overly citrusy too, would skip next time, still probably worth trying, bartender said the particular recipe was thirty centuries old

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Photo of mashmstr2
2.08/5  rDev -35.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Served in a hot glass, the beer appears to have little to no head. Murky yellow sandy in color.

Medicinal, steely, sweat sock aroma with a tinge of herbaly notes. Not very appealing for a non-hopped beer.

Taste is not much better than the aroma! Sticky, tongue coating grit and graininess. Gritty bread notes with a medicinal herbal flavor. Heather? Maybe... Poor example of Heather flavor which should have a bright herbal crispness and sharp pin point perfumey note. This is bland and dull.

Finish is bready and puckery metallic falvors which sickenly stick to the tongue.

This would be a below average homebrewed attempt of a Heather ale. Not up to par for a Craft beer at all. Possible conditioning or mash temp problems..

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Photo of RedDiamond
3.48/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Some might consider the smell of this hopless herbal ale to be a bit punky. It is, and it certainly strays far from customary hopped beers. But since the style requires a re-definition of beer parameters, I’m inclined to readjust my expectations and accept the smell for what it is. It is a peculiar garden elixir of wildflowers and alchemy – different, but for what it is, it works.

Thankfully, the taste is crafted of cleaner lines with a light grassy element tinged with a hint of lime. It tastes a little like Kool-Aide, but with a complimentary herbal infusion that is both refreshing and rejuvenatory. Burghead is unfiltered pumpkin-ochre color and comes with a head of white velvet that soon bows out. I found it to be an enjoyable change of pace from customary hopped ales and particularly agreeable on a warm summer’s eve.

Burghead is a fun beer representing the revival of an ancient brewing tradition. I am of the opinion that experimental herbal brews of this nature are a gruit idea.

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Photo of PapaJ
3.35/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap; pre-dinner pint at Venti's Basement Bar, Salem, Oregon.

a: hazy / cloudy amber/ call it dark honey; no head as delivered
s: mild aroma of sweet malt and juniper and citrus; or was that flowery heather
t: low bitterness / smooth / flowery / herbal spice / honey / flavorful
d: soft / medium dry on the palate / flavorful / interesting / an unusual ale

Brewery reports [ abbreviated ]: 'Brewed without hops - favored with heather tips, honey, and malts, this . . . ale may be the most interesting ale you've ever had!'

I noted the absence of hops; I noted the honey and malt. It was interesting.

I'll have another pint or two before it rotates out of Venti's.

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Burghead Heather Ale from Roots Organic Brewery
Beer rating: 0 out of 100 with 6 ratings
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