Special Herbs (Seasonal)
Upright Brewing Company

Special Herbs (Seasonal)Special Herbs (Seasonal)
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Upright Brewing Company
Oregon, United States
Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale
Ranked #1
Ranked #660
4.39 | pDev: 6.38%
Jan 02, 2022
Aug 15, 2013
Special Herbs (Seasonal)Special Herbs (Seasonal)
Notes: 2013 Notes:
This version of Special Herbs is composed of Reggae Junkie Gruit aged in Old Tom Gin barrels and wine barrels that previously fermented Fantasia, a peach beer.

2014 Notes:
A unique brew incorporating wine and gin barrel aging to a farmhouse style gruit. The recipe uses lemongrass, sweet and bitter orange peels, hyssop, and Sichuan peppercorns. A bit of spelt in the grist helps maintain some body, although the Special Herbs leans in a bright and dry direction.
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Photo of snaotheus
Reviewed by snaotheus from Washington

4.17/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
375ml bottle served in a footed pilsner. I don't see a date on it. Left about half an inch in the bottle.

Pours a beautiful crystal clear brass / bronze color with a medium sized head that settles quickly into a fairly generous ring and a couple clumps.

Smell is fruity -- apricot, peach, maybe white wine grapes, kind of tart, slight funk.

Taste is slightly fruity along the same lines -- maybe more grape or grape must flavor, maybe something vaguely herbal.

Mouthfeel is very light, very clean, very smooth, very dry. Overall, this is a very good beer.
Jan 02, 2022
Photo of REVZEB
Reviewed by REVZEB from Illinois

4.45/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
Excited to find a bottle while in town. Pours cloudy amber gold with a sudsy white head. Gin, lemongrass, juniper, pine, grains, spices, peach, tart oak, red grape, flowers, honey, and tangy earth in the taste. Super complex, each sip has difference ratios except the barrels being an omnipresent backbone. Smell focuses more on the barrels, grains, spices, and sour peach. Feel is oak tart with textures from the grains, botanicals, spices, wild yeast and malt. It is as if it was ground up in my mouth, intense yet light and drinkable. A beer truly unlike any other, inspiring!
Sep 14, 2021
Photo of kemoarps
Reviewed by kemoarps from Washington

4.24/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
This is the 2020 version. Been sitting in my fridge for a couple of months, waiting for a toasty summer afternoon such as today.

Lovely pale yellow that's mostly clear, and sports a soft white pile of foam that settles down slowly but surely

Nose is a nice mildly tart with elements of lemon and pear and an almost berry-sweet undercurrent. They don't list the specific botanicals nor barrels on the bottle, so my aromaticizer is proving less dialed in without the suggestions of a label, ha! There's elements of juicy citrus and stone fruit in there, and maybe the suggestion of mint, but not the like cool/mentholy aspect of it? None of these are especially strong. Just all around a pleasant melange of summery flavours.

Initial impression does carry some of that same fruitiness, alongside a flatter lemon-adjacent character. Has kind of a light grape-must/wine kind of thing going on in addition to a mild apple and general tart/funk, and sharp carbonation.

Perfect for this summery afternoon in the PNW of transplanting and general garden-work. This is a tasty saison.
Jul 12, 2021
Photo of BerryKumquat
Reviewed by BerryKumquat from California

4.64/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
L: Generic blonde.
S: A start of brett with a lot of herbs.
T: The strongest, herbiest, funkiest saison beer.
F: A winter ale.
O: A wacky saison with the strongest set of flavors ever.
Aug 09, 2020
Rated: 4.23 by Stevedore from Oregon

Feb 17, 2020
Rated: 5 by Sir_Goatman from Oregon

Sep 11, 2019
Rated: 4.75 by NickThePyro from Washington

Sep 05, 2019
Rated: 4.37 by Ajlvt from Washington

Feb 07, 2019
Rated: 4.06 by Rub_This_BBQ from Massachusetts

Dec 23, 2018
Rated: 4 by LiquidAmber from Washington

Oct 18, 2018
Rated: 4.24 by Dactrius from Netherlands Antilles

Sep 03, 2018
Rated: 4.25 by imperialking from Illinois

Jun 22, 2018
Photo of Roustabout
Reviewed by Roustabout from District of Columbia

4.41/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
“Pacific” version.

Best gruit I’ve laid my hands on. The shiso etc. doesn’t pop out particularly, but adds to a strong, lacy herb profile atop a light crackery base. Lovely Druid juice.
May 27, 2018
Rated: 4.41 by baggedlunch from New Mexico

Feb 09, 2018
Photo of StonedTrippin
Reviewed by StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.07/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
i absolutely love this brewery, and i am so glad to see some of their bottles popping up around colorado again. this is a unique one, more sour than the others that have come around recently, and fashioned as a gruit, without hops and using a unique mix of herbs instead. this one has a bunch of cool stuff, but it comes together really well, floral but dried, peppery and lightly medicinal, bitter but clean, really clever and interesting beer. its also aged in gin and wine barrels from what i gather, and i do get the juniper aspect, especially in the aroma. there is a clean woodiness to this too, almost new oak, light vanilla and earth, lumber and sweetness, unifying and nice with all the herbs. this is nicely bitter but also has some freshness, and is maltier than i would have expected, a crystal clear light copper or dark honey color with a tall white head. the sourness is what throws me a little bit, i didnt expect this to be wild so much as a saison like a lot of their others are, but there is some serious citrusy acidity to this, not overly sour, but definitely packing a pucker. floral later on, a little mouth tingling from the szechuan pepper, spicy, grassy, and like nothing else out there. great carbonation and a slow fading finish where i can appreciate each element all over again. these guys continue to fascinate me, hoping this is only the beginning of their beers showing up in colorado...
Dec 28, 2017
Rated: 4.33 by NWHopinator from Oregon

Sep 08, 2017
Rated: 4.31 by psweendogg from Connecticut

Aug 27, 2017
Rated: 4.34 by shelby415 from Oregon

Jul 24, 2017
Rated: 4.3 by jason_nwx from Oregon

Feb 23, 2017
Photo of Marius
Reviewed by Marius from Netherlands

4/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Bottle shared at August THT. Hazy raw yellow with no head. Notes of vinegar, spices, lemongrass, ginger, peppers. Medium body, light carbonation and a tart finish.
Dec 11, 2016
Rated: 4.5 by Nat1975 from Indiana

Nov 24, 2016
Rated: 4.34 by PhineasMcClintock from Massachusetts

Sep 03, 2016
Rated: 4 by jzeilinger from Pennsylvania

Sep 03, 2016
Reviewed by THANAT0PSIS from Wisconsin

4.4/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5
Upright Special Herbs (2016, Old Tom Gin, ex-Fantasia, and brandy casks)

A: Bone white head of about two fingers crowns this perhaps most famous of gruits; it quickly fades amidst the fizzing of very active carbonation. The beer itself is a gorgeous, hazy gold, brimming with brilliant orange hues. Lacing is unfortunately spotty, however, and it and retention could use work. These failings may be due to acidity or barrel-aging or both. 4/5

A: Bright citrus fruitiness is the star here, backed by plenty of interesting herbaceous notes. White pepper, mint, and rosemary are suggested, and juniper is unmistakeable, yet there is a deeper fruitiness that shows as it warms, something akin to overripe peaches and even darker stone fruits. There is maybe even some candied fig and berries in the very back end. This smells quite sweet, but not in a cloying way. It is difficult to pick out many specific notes as they all blur together, but it is very appetizing. 4.5/5

T: While it seems that Upright largely followed their typical saison recipe and substituted herbs for hops, that is certainly not a dig since they do saisons oh-so-well. A familiar light tartness and Brett-y funky quality greets the drinker right away, very white wine in its execution and could in fact be the wine barrels themselves. Then sweet citrus, light mint, sweet alcohol, floral white pepper, overripe peach, and darker stone fruits and berries mingle nearly inseparably across the palate. Juniper from the gin is there to make sure things do not get too sweet, and spelt makes an appearance just as the beer dries up a little. The aftertaste is candied orange rind and fig, plus a little oak. Again, it is quite difficult to parse out all the complexity here as it just blends so effortlessly. 4.5/5

M: This drinks full and sticky with a playful acidity and enough soft, natural carbonation to keep it from becoming a chore. The pucker level is low, almost nonexistent. The hyssop leaves a very pleasant, cooling minty feeling that really builds as the glass empties. It would be nice to see this a bit drier in the finish and with higher carbonation, both of which could probably be achieved with a little cellaring or a little more time barrel-fermenting. 3.75/5

O: This is the first gruit I have ever drank, and I am unsure how closely Upright comes to stylistic guidelines, so I have rated this against what a saison might be with herbs instead of hops. The style seems to be very fluid, so I do not think this is a problem. While I would like this a little drier (especially rated against saisons), the sheer complexity and uniqueness makes up for it. There is so much to like here, and it is all a bit obscured by how perfectly Upright have blended and balanced the beer's many components; this is a beer to be contemplated and enjoyed over a long period of time. Upright somehow remains vastly underrated and under-hyped. Please let us keep it that way. Pair with MF Doom's "Special Herbs: The Box Set" (Creative and unexpected, huh?) 4.5/5
Aug 28, 2016
Rated: 4.75 by jkrug5 from Maryland

Aug 28, 2016
Rated: 3.5 by atrocity from Virginia

Aug 11, 2016
Rated: 4.5 by MaximumYuks from Oregon

Aug 06, 2016
Rated: 4.47 by ipafool from Oregon

Jul 27, 2016
Rated: 4.75 by duceswild from Heard & McDonald Islands

May 29, 2016
Rated: 4.25 by oline73 from Maryland

May 28, 2016
Photo of wedge
Reviewed by wedge from North Carolina

4.38/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Date unknown...probably 2014

Hazy gold under a soft, frothy head that fizzles to a sticky ring. Funky, woody spice in the nose tinted with colorful fresh citrus. Peppercorns, lemon, lime, damp earth, berries, musty basement, graham crackers, very light gin. Flavor is a delicious balance of lemony tartness and aromatic herbs and spices. A beautiful blend of flavors. Vibrant citrus, flowers, mellow spice, creamy orange, and a bit of wood. Medium-light, frothy feel with some pucker on the finish. A delightfuly tart lemon/lime, funky treat. Thank you Patrick!
Apr 30, 2016
Rated: 4.49 by mendvicdog from Maryland

Apr 29, 2016
Rated: 4.86 by datpingao from California

Feb 25, 2016
Rated: 4.39 by shoegueuze from California

Feb 25, 2016
Photo of Shippy
Reviewed by Shippy from Colorado

4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
Poured from a bottle. Pours a light golden orange with a little cloudiness and bubbles flowing to the top, much like champagne. Smell is sour with citrus and a bit of spice/pepper, and a little funk. Flavor is very bright with lots of orange and a bit of pepper with some gin notes present. The orangey sweetness is noticeable on the sides of the tongue, while the pepper and carbonation dance on the tip of the tongue. The feel is more full than I expected, but there is still a lot of carbonation that keeps it light. Overall this is a great wild saison with nice sweetness and good complimentary flavors.
Feb 25, 2016
Rated: 3.94 by Wayne17 from Texas

Jan 23, 2016
Photo of BarrytheBear
Reviewed by BarrytheBear from Wisconsin

4.24/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Oak, light citrus fruits, very pleasant gin barrel presence. Not sure if the underlying spicing has faded, or the gin barrel swallows up their subtleties, but either way they're faint. As is though, it's a pleasant beer for sure.
Dec 25, 2015
Photo of draheim
Reviewed by draheim from Washington

4.31/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
750mL into a tulip. Pours a clear golden color with minimal head, lazy carbonation. Looks almost like apple juice.

Aroma is vinous and sour. Tart green apples, light acidity.

Taste follows nose. Pale biscuity malt, tart green apples, white wine grapes, oak. Nicely crisp and sour.

Mouthfeel is crisp and light, dry finish.

Overall a really nice sour gruit/saison with just enough wine influence to make it interesting without being overpowering.
Dec 20, 2015
Rated: 4.41 by aaronyoung01 from New Mexico

Dec 06, 2015
Photo of GreesyFizeek
Reviewed by GreesyFizeek from New York

4.29/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
Bottle shared by Jack, thanks man.

This one pours a cloudy and super turbid orange, almost looks like a smoothie, with a small head, and a good amount of lacing.

Smells like gin, heavy citrus, juniper, with some other earthy aromas.

This is definitely one of the more unique beers I've had. It's relatively sour, with a really great herbal character to it. I won't be super adept and say I can pick out the lemon grass, and the peppercorns, and the hyssop, whatever that is, but it is very herbal, piney, and minty, which is an enjoyable twist on the usual sour.

This is medium bodied, juicy and slightly creamy, with a moderate level of carbonation.

Really cool beer here, I'd love to get a bottle for myself.
Nov 23, 2015
Special Herbs (Seasonal) from Upright Brewing Company
Beer rating: 97 out of 100 with 205 ratings