Special Herbs (Sole Composition Series)
Upright Brewing Company

Special Herbs (Sole Composition Series)Special Herbs (Sole Composition Series)
Rate It
Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
Upright Brewing Company
Oregon, United States
Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale
4.44 | pDev: 6.31%
Mar 27, 2018
Feb 28, 2011
Special Herbs (Sole Composition Series)Special Herbs (Sole Composition Series)
Notes: Reggae Junkie Gruit, aged in Ransom Old Tom gin barrels.
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Rated: 4.46 by Kurmaraja from California

Mar 27, 2018
Rated: 4.74 by yeaprolly from Washington

Sep 07, 2015
Rated: 4.75 by PerHops from California

Sep 30, 2013
Rated: 4.5 by PZBREW from Oregon

Aug 09, 2013
Rated: 4.5 by yourefragile from District of Columbia

Apr 10, 2013
Rated: 4.25 by JAHMUR from Connecticut

Mar 10, 2013
Rated: 4.75 by oregone from Oregon

Jan 22, 2013
Rated: 4.5 by teddyarrowhead from Oregon

Jan 20, 2013
Rated: 4 by spycow from Illinois

Jan 12, 2013
Photo of cosmicevan
Reviewed by cosmicevan from New York

4.84/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5
Notes taken from early 2012 (March?) from a bottle share i hosted with the local crew.

Thanks kindly to OregonHopmonster for the trade.

bottle 153 of 166

a - pourse clear yellow orange with some visible champagne like carbonation and a thin bubbly head.
s - smell is amazing. spicey peppermint patty. my nose is on fire from it.
t - taste matches the nose in that it is insanely amazing. the gin is perfect match for the taste. sweet peppermint candy with gin glazed on it.
m - prickly carbonation
o - wish there was more of this it is unreal.
Dec 06, 2012
Rated: 4.5 by kscaldef from Oregon

Nov 19, 2012
Rated: 5 by Shmeal from Oregon

Nov 13, 2012
Rated: 4.25 by msubulldog25 from Oregon

Apr 28, 2012
Photo of drabmuh
Reviewed by drabmuh from Maryland

4.12/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
At the time of this review, this is #1 on the "Top Beers - Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale" list on beeradvocate.com. Another #1 beer hooray! Shared by Thorpe and served in a snifter.

Yellow, hazy, lazy head, no lacing, low carbonation. Looks fine.

Aroma is surprisingly Brett-y, with spice and herbs in there at as well.

Beer is light in body, oaky and bretty on the finish, nice tasting, very strong flavors, nice spice palate, overall a nice beer and I'd have it again.
Apr 25, 2012
Rated: 4.5 by WeisGuy from New York

Apr 23, 2012
Photo of Thorpe429
Reviewed by Thorpe429 from Illinois

4.47/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Bottle at the other night's Upright tasting. Served in a Mikasa tulip.

Bottle 132/166

Pours a sparkling, clear yellow color with an average, fizzy white head that diminishes fairly quickly into a thin collar with some sparse lacing on the sides of the glass.

The nose brings some delicate herbs with some gin in the background. A bit of citrus there as well. The flavor has a long duration with a very light sweetness plus a small dose of tartness. Light bitterness as well. Everything seems to be coming together, yet it's all fairly subtle.

The body is light with high carbonation, leaving to a dry finish. Through the finish comes some additional gin and herb character plus a light burst of citrus.

A very interesting and delicious beer that I was glad to try. Here's hoping that Upright makes this one again.
Apr 21, 2012
Photo of starrdogg
Reviewed by starrdogg from District of Columbia

4.67/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Huge thanks to Thorpe for busting out this big-time Want to kick off our Upright Sole Composition tasting.

Beer pours a slightly hazy golden-yellow with a fluffy white head. The aroma is very interesting, a great mix of lactic sour, spices (not sure I can identify which ones) and a hint of sweetness. The taste on this is absolutely fantastic and unique. It's much more lactic sour than I expected, but the gin and spices really come through on the back end. As it warms, it gets a little sweeter and the spices become more prominent. Mouthfeel is light-medium bodied with nice carbonation, and it coats your mouth in a nice way for a lighter beer. Overall, this isn't exactly what I was expecting (thought it would be a lot more gin-forward), but it was fantastic nonetheless and had a mix of flavors that I've never found together in a beer before. One of the best things Upright's done so far.
Apr 20, 2012
Photo of raveskdr
Reviewed by raveskdr from Virginia

4.55/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Bottle 132 of 166. Poured into a Bruery glass. Huge thanks to thorpe429 and starrdog for all the Upright bottles we were able to crack.

A - Light golden color with thin bubbles that dissipate to a small layer.

S - A really interesting combination of spices. Really tough to pick out individual spices present. There is also a hint of lacto on the nose.

T - Wow. A huge melange of spices up front followed very quickly by a nice tartness. The combination sounds odd but really works so well in this beer.

M - Really light and wispy on the tongue. Really high drinkability.

O - An incredibly interesting, complex, and drinkable beer. This really was one of the standouts amongst the 8 bottles we had. So unique. I've never had anything like this before. Definitely worth seeking out if you like tart, spice, Upright, or a combination of all of those things.
Apr 20, 2012
Rated: 4 by sideshowe from Pennsylvania

Feb 01, 2012
Photo of JohnGalt1
Reviewed by JohnGalt1 from Idaho

4/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4
This bottle comes from Inflatablechair (23/166) .. Thanks for this one-off Sam!! Pours a lightly hazed pale yellow with a good white head that drops quickly .... no real retention or lacing.

Nose is very spicy... juniper and sage... something that I associate with geraniums... green apple.. tart and a bit floral.

Flavor is herbal and a bit sour... tannic underripe pit fruits.. lemony... obvious juniper.... some "turkey herbs"... I swear I get sage and even rosemary.. nasturtiums... peppery and a bit floral.

Boutique Gin for sure... Loved this one... inviting and very drinkable.... sorta like an aperitif.. God, I would love to be able to try this one again over a long evening.

Dec 28, 2011
Photo of Arbitrator
Reviewed by Arbitrator from California

4.31/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5
Chilled bottle into a glass, courtesy of hopsbreath and/or ramnuts -- I forgot who sent this one. Thanks, Jason and Frank!

A: A pale straw body with good clarity and a wispy, off-white head. It doesn't leave any lace.

S: An herbal juniper (gin) note greets the nose, backed by an assortment of rosemary and ginger. A small presence of apricot.

T: Barrel-dominated juniper / gin flavors segue into a mild tartness of apricot, lemon, and grape. Herbal flavors dominate the mid-palate, including what I believe is rosemary (no one else was convinced of this) and ginger.

M: The mouthfeel could use a little more carbonation to scrub the palate. The strong (but unique!) flavors of the barrel linger on the palate and leave residue after a number of sips. It makes it a little hard to drink in quantity.

O: Great beer, and a real eye-opener. Having had a number of Upright beers in the past and being somewhat unimpressed by them. I found this a refreshing change of pace. Well done.
Nov 28, 2011
Photo of Sean9689
Reviewed by Sean9689 from Illinois

4.32/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Thanks, Alex! Poured into Narke tulip.

A - Pours a golden yellow color, white head, thin cap, light spotty lace.

S - Herbal notes, gin, tonic, some funk, nice level of tart notes in there as well. Really unique and interesting...very cool.

T - Gin & tonic, plain and simple. Also, some stone fruit, apricots, and light bretty funk. Like the nose, really unique and cool...not something I could keep drinking a lot of though.

M - Light body, good carbonation, dry finish.

O - Really enjoyable and unique. Well-done beer by Upright. I continue to believe this brewery is really under-the-radar yet most of their stuff is just simply excellent. This one is another winner!
Oct 26, 2011
Photo of AgentZero
Reviewed by AgentZero from Illinois

4.3/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
I don't know who shared this, kind of lost track after a while who was pulling out what.

A - Yellowish orange colored beer that was a bit hazy. A bit of lace left on the sides.

S - Some gin, little bit of grape, some interesting herbs, little bit of gin.

T - Taste is actually pretty nice, particularly considering how much I generally don't like gin. Some nice stone fruits, bit of gin, herbs, and pale malts.

M - Lively carbonation, more body than expected, I'd say medium.

O - Nice beer, found it easy to drink, particularly given my few experiences previous with a gruit. Good stuff, would drink again.
Oct 21, 2011
Photo of MasterSki
Reviewed by MasterSki from Canada (ON)

4.32/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Bottle #160/166. Served in a Glunz taster glass.

A - A finger of white foam settles to a thick collar, wispy thin cap, and minimal lacework. Hazy orange-yellow body.

S - Gin and tonic, 7Up, ginger, juniper, and other nebulous herbs. Slight lactic character and bretty pineapple funk. Very unique, and strangely compelling.

T - Taste is pretty similar - a mixture of tonic water, lemons, gin, and nebulous herbs over top of a sweet pale malt and stone fruit backbone. Not quite as much of the funk character that I picked up in the aroma, but still quite enjoyable. More of a 4.25, so I had to fudge the other scores a tiny bit.

M - Zesty carbonation, medium-light body, a bit gritty, dry clean finish, and no obvious alcohol even with the gin flavors.

D - This was quite excellent, and was super-refreshing after a bunch of bigger stouts and barleywines. I probably could have drank the entire bottle on my own. I really hope Upright revisits this beer as I found it extremely successful and provocative.
Oct 17, 2011
Photo of oregonskibum
Reviewed by oregonskibum from Oregon

4.57/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
Bottle #163/166.

A: Very, very clear. Light golden color, almost like a chardonney. Slight white head. Plenty of bubbles floating to the top, which was nice to see given the seal was cracked the day earlier.

S: Ahh, the gin flavors are still there, although perhaps a little more subdued. Too bad. But still, nice botantical flavors with a hint of citrus tartness. But still plenty of green, juniper notes. I'm reminded why I really liked this beer when it was first released.

T: A funky tartness hits early on the taste, more so than expected from the smell. The herbal, gin flavors are more subdued than I remember. Definitely dry with some nice stone fruit flavors. The gin comes to play in mid to late taste with more astringent, floral flavors on the finish. After six+ months, this beer is still amazing. Or Gruit, if you insist.

M: Light, crisp, and very enjoyable. Not sure what the mouthfeel is supposed to be for a gruit, but this worked on release and six months later.

O/D: I liked this beer at release. I liked this beer when first released in bottle. I like this beer now. A lot. I really wish this was a regular offering. I really enjoy gin and the botantical flavors this adds to the beer are amazing. This goes down as one of the best beers of 2011. 166 bottles??? Ten times that amount wouldn't be enough, in my opinion.
Jul 25, 2011
Photo of Jwale73
Reviewed by Jwale73 from Rhode Island

4.47/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
A big thanks to jedwards for sharing this. Definitely a highlight of the night. Bottle # 72 out of 166. Pours a hazy tangerine hue with a thin, bright white head that dissipates into a skim. Nose expresses tart citrus, chamomile and some other herbal qualities I can't quite pin down. Taste is citrusy, salty, tart and less herbal with a light bitterness. Mouthfeel is light in body with a tart, crisp finish and a slight acidity that lightly stimulates the salivary glands along the cheeks. Well, I can't say that I have much experience with the style, but I was blown away by this beer. Surprisingly flavorful and quite refreshing. Well worth your time if you can track down this rare brew.
Jul 01, 2011
Photo of HopHead84
Reviewed by HopHead84 from California

3.7/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks a lot, Jason!

Poured into a sniffer. A gin barrel aged Gruit? Right up my alley.

A: Looks like white wine, like a Chardonnay. Small bubbly white head. Good clarity.

S: Lactic peaches with a moderate sour quality with accompanying juniper. The gin is pronounced. Slight musty quality. 

T: Moderate lactic sourness with notes of peach and apricot. Citric acidity is at a lower moderate level. Very dry. Less gin than I detected in the flavor. A little juniper.

M: Sticky and dry. Light in body. Upper low carbonation. A little thin.

Overall: An interesting beer with unique attributes. Pretty damn good for a Gruit.
Jun 25, 2011
Photo of vkv822
Reviewed by vkv822 from Oregon

4.39/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5
750ml bottle into tulip pint.
bottle number 69 of 166.

Pours a clear golden yellow with a thin, bubbly white head that dissipates fairly quickly.

The aroma is of faint gin upfront, which gives way to a nice lactic tartness mixed with herbs.

I am getting light herbs/spice upfront though these become less apparent as it warms. These quickly give way to wonderful tart apple notes and faint grape-skin tannins in a nice dry finish.

As mentioned in other reviews, it is more full bodied than I would have guessed from the appearance. The carbonation, while not overly bubbly, is enough that it keeps it quite refreshing though.

This was an interesting and incredibly well done beer. I really wish I had picked up more bottles of this, and will keep my eyes open for it again. I would go as far as to say this is my favorite beer I have tried from Upright so far.
May 25, 2011
Photo of Puddintane
Reviewed by Puddintane from Ohio

4.92/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5
One of the most fantastically surprising beers that I have had in a long time. Went into this beer with a lot of hesitation and came out craving more. This bottle was split several ways at the Jackie O's sour release. Pours a light golden color with a sparse thin white head(might have been the glassware). Aroma is AMAZING. Herbal, citrusy, definitely picking up the gin barrel. I want the Special Herbs air freshener. Taste is much the same, very bright, herbal, citrusy flavors. The beer is so amazingly refreshing becuase of it's lightness on the palate coupled with a terrific gently tart and sour finish. I am jealous of any person that had the opportunity to stock up on this beer.
May 06, 2011
Photo of chumba526
Reviewed by chumba526 from Oregon

4.5/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
Appears very light gold in color with a light and fluffy pure white head.

I get a strong fruity apple like sourness to the beer. I also get a bit of a sour pear like sourness. The smell is very dry, sour and fruity.

It tastes of soured fruit. I get a mild apple, strawberry and even some green plum sourness to the beer. The beer is very acidic and strongly sour yet there is it is very smooth. I do not get a strong herbal flavor yet the herbal flavor might have been blended in with the smooth grassy gin like finish of the beer. There is a mild Brett like flavor that adds a mild funkiness that helps brings all the flavors of the beer together.

There is a crisp and light mouth feel to the beer.

An amazing sour beer from Upright. Upright is always good but they out did themselves with this sour.
Apr 21, 2011
Photo of portlandjeff
Reviewed by portlandjeff from Oregon

4.67/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
I've had this beer a few times on tap at both the Upright Tasting Room and Grain and Gristle, and will enjoy another every time I might be fortunate enough to see it available again. I also picked up a bunch for my cellar!

Appearance: light amber gold, nice head, minimal lacing.

Smell: sour, dry, and fruity.

Taste: Follows the nose. I'm just going to have to follow the lead of the first review here, it's spot on: Green apple skin, under-ripe green strawberries, grape skin tannins. A little bit of funky brett in the finish. Not much left as far as herbs go at this point - although there are lingering complexities from the base beer (or is that the gin barrel?!) that still add a lot of depth to the experience. Perfect.

Mouthfeel is really nice. Light, but not too light. Refreshing, yet still lightly viscous.

Overall, probably one of the best sour beers made in Portland, the whole west coast, or anywhere else in the country. I tried not to hoard this one. I only bought two when they first came out, and I gave everyone else a few weeks to buy what they wanted before I returned for more. You snooze, you lose!
Apr 11, 2011
Photo of hopsbreath
Reviewed by hopsbreath from Florida

4.29/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
I really like this beer err... gruit. I order it whenever I see it on tap. Sampled this time at the Upright tasting room with TulipSnifter, MADhombrewer, and Witchsbrew.

A: Clear pale yellow with a half finger of white foam. No lacing pops up at all. This could be Miller Lite at first look. 3/5

S: The Miller Lite connection is so gone now. Bountiful clean light lactic greets the nose. I'm expecting some nice dry sour fruits now! 4/5

T: The promise of the aroma was not broken in the taste. Green apple skin, under-ripe green strawberries, and the stereotypical grape skin tannins are oh-so refreshing. A little bit of funky brett keep this dry. Not much left as far as herbs go at this point. Probably the best of Uprights sours in this aspect. 4.5/5

M: Surprisingly fuller than I would expect from such a dry beer. Slightly sticky on the finish but not bad. Scrubbing bubbles keeps the palate fresh. I need some Thai food because this would pair awesome! 4.5/5

O: Great beer. This is my third time having it on draft and I have a few bottles. Needless to say, this is one of my favorite sours in Portland! 4.5/5

Edit: I opened a bottle last night (5-19-11) and it was pretty dead on with all of what I wrote about the on-tap version except for one key component. A nice herbal quality was appreciated in the background that I'll compare to rosemary. It was not there on-tap. Rather than write a whole new review, I thought it best to merely mention it here. It didn't increase or decrease the point score at all for me but only added a nice nuance.
Apr 10, 2011
Special Herbs (Sole Composition Series) from Upright Brewing Company
Beer rating: 96 out of 100 with 32 ratings