Strange Roots Experimental Ales

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Belgian Dark Ale
Ranked #12
Ranked #17,131
3.9 | pDev: 11.54%
Strange Roots Experimental Ales
Pennsylvania, United States
Very Good
Notes: Strong. Dark. Belgian. This swarthy Dubbel is integrated with a distinctly porter-esque roasted quality & our Brettanomyces lambicus yeast strain for an unexpectedly cherry-tart finish.
Reviews: 16 | Ratings: 63 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Tucquan
2.98/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had this on 2018-11-23 in Bethel Park, PA from a bottle

Band-aid, medicinal, caramel, sour, mildly bitter. Light body and carbonation. Not very appealing.

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Photo of GeoWitt
4.27/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I got one of the Draai Laag branded bottles at the brewery after they turned into Strange Roots. Not happy about that, but happy about the beer. A beautiful color that makes me think “Rochefort” and a flavor profile with a bit of candy sugar. But then the tart, sophisticated funk of a Cantillon. I’m not sure I had anything like it before, but it’s versitile brew, food frendly wiith soups and salads, but also great for sipping. I think Strange Roots is going to carry Haviken into the future – at least I hope so!

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.21/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From 500 ml bottle into glass

Dark brown in color with ruby highlights. Foamy white colored head. Aroma of dark malt and stone fruit. Taste is tart, but not overpowering. Medium bodied.

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Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip, the appearance was a dark amber close to brown color with a thin white head that fell off at a good pace. Not much lace. The aroma had some roast, light earthy/bitter chocolate - more like cocoa beans, pomme-like fruits, leather, sweet driftwood, quaint vanilla, and a rounded sour Brett-like portions. The flavor wasn’t as sour as I expected from an American brewer doing this style. Rustic/semi-barnyard tastes wrap some herbal qualities to invade the sour and smooth out into the aftertaste. Finish was earthy, cocoa bean, vanilla and the sour Brett. The palate was medium bodied with a decent sipping quality about it. Carbonation felt good and the ABV felt fine. Overall, actually, I’m more than impressed because I didn’t think an American brewer could actually get so close in doing a superb take on a Flemish styled sour. Haha, well, shit, mostly at a loss for the rest of my words. Pretty sure my numbers will reflect appropriately.

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Photo of brentk56
4.08/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours cloudy and cola colored; an ecru head fades but leaves some spots here and there

Smell: Apple, citrus and cherry tones, with hints of funk and grass

Taste: Apple, lemon and cherry tones forward, with a deep chocolate malt tones building; funky and slightly grassy, through the middle, with the fruit tones returning in the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body low to moderate carbonation

Overall: An interesting twist on a dubbel; nice balance between the sweeter elements and the funk and tart tones

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Photo of woodychandler
3.63/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

It was difficult to contain my excitement when the FGBS initially began receiving distro from this Pittsburgh-area brewery, so I purchased what was then available & subsequently added to them. It was never my intent to create a Bottle Backlog here at Chez Woody, but its eradication allows me the opportunity to conduct horizontals as I go. I am finding the results to be VERRRRY interesting & not at all stupid, per Arte Johnson of "Laugh-In".

From the bottle: "Aged on Lees, Bottled with Brettanomyces"; "Wild by Design"; "Original Gravity: 15.2 (deg.) P (1.062 S.G.)"; "Apparent Degree of Attenuation: 90%"; "Made With: Brettanomyces Lambicus"; "Strong. Dark. Belgian. This swarthy Dubbel is integrated with a distinctly porter-esque roasted quality & our Brettanomyces lambicus yeast strain for an unexpectedly cherry-tart finish."

As with their Geestelijke & Petite Ferme, I am going to perform two separate pours, one leaving the lees in the bottle, the second with the lees swirled in.

I Pop!ped the cap & commenced a very gentle pour. The hour is growing late & I neither want to clean up a mess nor stir up any resting lees. A quick, in-glass swirl raised a finger of foamy, fizzy, light-brown head with limited retention that quickly dissipated into nothingness. Color was Very Dark Brown to Black/Opaque (SRM = > 34, < 44) with NE-quality clarity & burgundy highlights. Nose was not at all Brett-like, but instead, it was quite sweet, like Cherry Coke! Mouthfeel was medium and its lack of noticeable carbonation stood in stark contrast to many of its brethren from today. The taste, while tart and very cherry-like, was not at all evocative of Brett. It was a very easy-drinking beer, but at 7.4%, that has the potential to be dangerous. This kind of put me in mind of Ragnarok with its cherry-like flavor, but I would prefer Ragnarok to this beer. If pressed, I would have to say that it was just not as intense in terms of its inherent flavor, hence my preference for Ragnarok. Finish was semi-dry, with a pleasant cherry-like tartness, but somehow lacking the intensity of the other beers from them that I have reviewed today. It was not a bad beer, but it just did not have the Ooomph! of the others. No regrets in terms of either the purchase or the drinking, but I am hanging it up for the night following this one.

Of course, since it was aged on lees, I saved the last one-third of the bottle for a second pour. Wow! What a glass of mud! Color was a murky Dark Brown to Very Dark Brown (SRM = > 27, < 34). Nose held an intense sour cherry presence. Mouthfeel was medium-to-full, but still lightly carbonated. The taste was dry, slightly more cherry-like than its earlier counterpart. Finish was semi-dry, very cherry-like, but it still lacked the flavor to make it make me want to prefer it over Ragnarok.

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Photo of bret717
4.17/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look- opaque dark amber, almost brown; 1 finger head recedes to 1 cm ring around the edge of the glass. No lacing.

Smell- some mustiness first, then sour cherry

Taste- starts with a an earthy funk, then a quick blast of roasty bitterness, sort of like a porter, then into mildly sour fruit, finishes slightly bitter and sour which both linger for a bit.

Mouthfeel- pretty thin and easy drinking. Goes down like water

Overall- I really enjoyed drinking this and would by it again. A very reasonably priced wild Ale that had a lot going on other than sourness.

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Photo of ajm5108
2.9/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Pours a deep cola, head dissipates quickly and it has lots of carbonation. Aroma has notes of cork, dry cherry must (attributed to the lees), earthy yeast & mild phenol with cola. Lots of nice Belgian notes but nothing "pops", which isn't a bad thing persay. Taste starts out fizzy & with some tart cherry notes, but turns a bit flat & musty. Goes for a oude bruin taste but lacks certain characteristics that make those beers (sometimes) work. I think the Brett is the culprit, it isn't implemented well with the fruit profile. The must I think is also from the malt bill, which is moderate to semi-dark, and again, clashes with the brett and cherry tones, and ends up tasted more like tanned leather. It isn't awful and I like the approach, but it falls flat and short of its target. Ends up like a watered down Flanders.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.97/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours an almost opaque though a little hazy dark mahogany in color with moderate amounts of fine active visible carbonation rising along the edges of the glass and moderate crimson red highlights. The beer has a two finger tall fizzy foamy dark beige head that fairly quickly reduces to a large patch of thin film covering the entire surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light to moderate aromas of roasted malts and dark malts with light hint of chocolate. Moderate aromas of dark fruits (cherry) and just a hint of earthy funkiness.

T: Upfront there is a light flavor of roasted malts and a moderate flavor of dark malts with some light hints of chocolate and minimal sweetness. That is followed by light flavors of earthy funkiness and moderate to strong flavors of slightly sour cherries (dark fruits). Minimal amounts of bitterness but a light amount of lingering tartness.

M: Just shy of medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation. Very lights amounts of acidic prickliness are present.

O: Definitely one of the more interesting beers that I have found recently - kind of a porter, dubbel, kriek hybrid. Easy to drink with well hidden alcohol. Definitely worth grabbing.

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Photo of Cylinsier
4.09/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

50 cl bottle

Pours cloudy, opaque brown. Almost looks black but has a slight ruddy hue when held to light. Yellowish white lacing for a head is gone almost instantly.

Smells of apples, citrus, berry, and brett. Some grassy malt undertones.

Tastes of apple, lemon, cherries, and a tart grassy maltiness. Much lighter flavor than the appearance would suggest.

Medium body with light fizzy carbonation on the tongue.

A surprisingly bright beer, lots of fruity tartness. A good sweeter tart beer that could be a gateway into the style for newcomers. One of the better sours in the Belgian style that I've had from an American brewery.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.04/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Picked up a single for $7.50 kind of expensive for just 16 ounces but I paid it anyway.

A - Dark brown in color hazy and almost black except for an amber tone to the base. Head was a 1/2 inch that settled rather quickly in my English Pint.
S - Smells of sour and sweet raisins and figs reminds me a bit of Père Jacques which is more of a dubbel than a Belgium dark.
T - Sour lemons and raisin skins green in taste and beneath this bite it gets rather sweet of dark fruits and candied figs. Each sip is sour then sweet and gone.
M - Kind of watery and easy to pull back despite the 7.5% ABV.

Overall this is one of the most tart yet lightest Belgium Dark beers I ever tried. Very flavorful and easy to drink those who are a fan of sour should give it a go!

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.24/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Draai Laag "Haviken"
12 oz. brown glass bottle, no apparent freshness dating
$66/case @ Holiday Beverage Inc., Indiana, PA

Carefully poured to leave the lees behind, Haviken is fairly clear, and ruby and orange highlights can be seen within its almost black body when held to the light. The creamy cap of slightly orange tinted tan holds well and leaves sheets of lace with each sip, although for the most part they readily slide back into the glass leaving just wide splashes.

Dried dark-skinned fruits and a bit of red juice greet you in the nose along with a light dusting of spiciness and a moderate amount of Brettanomyces character that's mainly of leather.

In the mouth it's surprisingly smooth and supple with a medium-light body and moderate, very-fine bubbled natural carbonation.

The flavor is as you might expect given the aroma, and although the combination of the Brett and the dark skinned fruitiness works really well, it's not much more complex than that. The malt is of course fuller, with a softly sweet dark caramel note that supports it; and there are some very low level, 'muddy' hops in the background of the finish. It's sweetish in a watered-down fruit juice kind of way with perhaps a bit of rock candy thrown in, but it's not sweet - the very low level bitterness, subtle earthy funkiness, sublime acidity, and a very light spritz of alcohol see to that.

Although it's not as complicated as some of their other beers, it's really quite satisfying; and in fact it might be their most accessible beer despite the fact that it's dark. So soft and smooth, but with an edge of funkiness, it's an incredibly drinkable beer for fans of the Belgian-style.

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Photo of Budinetz
3.54/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass. No date present on the bottle to verify freshness.

Pours a dark brown, almost black shade, with no head at all. Pours almost like a wild ale due to the active yeast in the bottle. No lacing present at all. The smell is interesting, almost like leather soaked in ether or shoe polish. Definitely smell some alcohol which is surprising for only 7.4% abv. Tastes quite malty with some subtle wine flavors, probably from the lees from which it was aged on. Some Brett character detected but not overwhelming. Feels very prickly on the tongue from the high carbonation. Overall a pretty interesting brew. I would seek this out again only to age and see if it brings out more character.


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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Great Belgian dark ale. Nice smooth characteristics with rounded tones. Easy to drink. Oh so easy to drink. No brettanomyces really noticable on this though. The label promotes it, but very little is seen from it. Frankly I think there is no need to broadcast the Brett. Regardless. Another good Belgian ale from Draai Laag. I like it.

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Photo of stakem
3.4/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This brewery has intrigued me since ive first learned about it. Was excited to give them a try when I stumbled upon some bottles in a shop in lancaster, pa. $10 for a 500ml bottle.

Poured into a teku, the brew appears mahogany in color with a khaki head. Some patchy head rests atop and when held to the light, some rusty clarity is seen around the edges.

The smells includes notes of cocoa with earthen aspects mildly introducing a fruity appeal. Sonewhat vinous but that is a stretch. It gets almost cheesy and that nodescript cheesy quality intensifies with a swirl.

The taste is fruity with suggestions of raison and plum. Some grassy earth with a hint of yeasty spice and alcohol. Overall the flavors blend well but they are dull and diluted.

This is a medium bodied brew with a light level of carbonation. Very easy drinking but fairly mild in character. For a brew to be advertised as aged over grape must and brett, I expected more. To me, this passes as a very dull, forgetable brew.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.19/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25


Pours an deep, rich amber with a white head and lacing. Every sip brings back a lively carbonation.

The aroma has dark fruits, roasted malt, brown sugar, leather, even some shoe polish.

The taste has dark fruit, roasted malt, char, coffee, light acidity, cocoa, leafy hop, even bitterness. Well rounded and full, the flavors work beautifully here. At times bordering on tart at other times more malty.

Full bodied, smooth, adequate medium carbonation. The Brett shows up in the finish, drying the beer out with a slight tang.

Overall, a nice take on a Belgian style dark ale or stout brewed with Brett.

Update: Tried an aged version that had much more tartness and a cherry flavor.

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Haviken from Strange Roots Experimental Ales
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 63 ratings