Cafe Amsterdam 10th Anniversary Gruit | Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
Cafe Amsterdam 10th Anniversary GruitCafe Amsterdam 10th Anniversary Gruit
Very Good
25 Ratings
Cafe Amsterdam 10th Anniversary GruitCafe Amsterdam 10th Anniversary Gruit

Brewed by:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States

Style: Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Gruit is an old style—one that incorporates spices, herbs and fruit but no hops. The latter detail makes this style very rare in modern times. Café Amsterdam’s Gruit is dark, strong and interesting. This combination of pale and dark malts, sage, thyme, cinnamon, black peppercorn and fresh orange peel composes distinctive, substantial flavors that meld together wonderfully. And at 12% ABV, this cellar-friendly ale is ready to lay you down! Thoroughly enjoy this old-world beer now but stash some away for later dwelvings.

Added by AKBelgianBeast on 06-01-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 25 |  Reviews: 19
Reviews by slaintemhor:
Photo of slaintemhor
3.75/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got to try a bottle of this from my bro-in-law who lives in Anchorage. The color was dark brown with essentially no head expect for a thin ribbon around the edge of the glass. The nose was spicy with sage and thyme. The palate had an interesting tang and spiciness with herbal notes. The tang went away fairly quickly but the spice and herb flavors lingered for some time.

 372 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This Dark Strong Gruit was brewed to celebrate the 10th anniversary of one of Anchorages Best Beer Bars, Cafe Amsterdam. If you want a fantastic beer selection, great service, a proper pour, and beers served at the right temperature and in the right glassware, Beerfly this bar and make it down there. When visiting Anchorage, this bar/restuarant is a can't miss.

Brewed with pale and dark malts, sage, thyme, cinnamon, black peppercorn and fresh orange peel. Oh yeah, and NO HOPS.

Pours a very dark nearly impenetrable dark brown color with some slight ruby highlights. A light tan head rises quickly and retains fairly well but leaves minimal lacing.

Nose is full of spices and malt. The sage, peppercorn, and orange peel make it out to my nose the srongest.

Wow. This is a way complex brew. major spice profile. The sage is obvious here to me, as is the peppercorn...i think. There is a certain fruitiness to it as well, maybe citrus from the orange peel? Man. Way complex. There is a slight tartness on the finish, leaving the mouth nice and dry, but this is by no means sour in any way, just an ever so slight tartness. Really a nice concoction. Not as sweet as i would have expected it to be, really not even close to barleywine sweet. There is a nice warmth (but not hot at all) that slowly and softly rises in the belly after each sip.

Mouthfeel is hard to judge "by style" but what i can tell you is that it is not as viscous as one would expect, carbonation is where it feels like it should be, and the finish is moderately dry.

Drinkability is amazing, period, for the abv. This one feels like a 7 or 8% beer. I will easily finish this bomber, and likely feel it bigtime when i do.

Overall a fantastically interesting beer. Be prepared for a whole new exbeerience. This is one that i would suspect would lay down pretty well. An enjoyable beer, and something really fun to shake things up. Cheers to the brewers and cheers to 10 great years for Cafe Amsterdam!!!

 1,981 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ditmier brought this to the weekend tasting.. Huge props on this one.. Thanks Eric.

lite tan head.. dark brown brew... very clear... good lacing.

Nose shows a bunch of spices.. sage is pretty prominent with thyme a bit lesser.. tons of other stuff that makes me think of flowers... a bit of cranberry.

Flavor is the same with some peppercorns and a pretty pronounced sour component.. could be cranberry, I guess... lemongrass?? the herbs begin to show an antiseptic quality with warmth.. some minor roasty malts ride the entire rollercoaster... medium body with a nice carbonation.

Thanks again Eric... I still say it isn't infected.. just infectious.


EDIT: holy crap.... no idea this was this high an ABV... I would have guessed in the 6-8 percent... WOW!! Pretty amazing really.

 799 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
3.67/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

very cloudy and pasty looking yellow liquid into a pint glass. Very thick and dull yellow in color. Small fizzy white head reached up and settled rather quickly, leaving just some token lacing behind in its wake,

The aroma was really odd. Lots of spice, random fruit notes, and truly a kitchen sink like feel to it. Following over into the flavor,it was an odd conconcotion. Lots of ginger like flavors, hints of nutmeg and cinnamon, light lemon like zest and some earthy tones.

 479 characters

Photo of FreshmanPour77
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%

Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another contribution from Kyle (randawakes) to our epic tasting. Unlike many of the others, we had actually planned to try this one, as he sent it down a month before the tasting.

Color is a garnet-tinted brown, very dark, and nearly opaque. The edges give me ruby hues. Bubbles stick only to the bottom of my glass. They stay put, contributing nothing to the head, but then, at 12%, I didn't expect much head to begin with.

The aroma and taste, are very close to each other, so I will characterize them together. This confluence of taste and aroma is right in line with the only other gruit that I have ever tried, Bathtub Gin. Burnt sugars and caramel give depth to the herbal contributions of juniper, extremely strong heather, and a slight sourness. Not even an inkling of the supposedly high alcohol level. This could be dangerous if I wasn't sharing it with 5 tasters.

Don't really know how to characterize the mouthfeel. After the sours, imperial stouts, and Belgians, this is certainly a change. The first sip makes my palate twitch, but then I get a nice medium to heavily textured beer with a medium carbonation level. I still need to open up to this style a bit, but I am really starting to enjoy these.

 1,218 characters

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%

Photo of Thorpe429
4.47/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes. Thanks to bmanning for opening the bottle.

Pours dark brown into my tulip. Slight head and lacing. The nose is some lemon, juniper, strong spicing, peppercorns, gin, and a slight bit of what seem like hops, though probably are not. Really interesting.

The spices all come together surprisingly well and it is not a total hodgepodge like a lot of the gruits I've had. Nice spicy feel and a good body. One of the few oddly-spiced beers that I would be happy to have a second glass of.

 506 characters

Photo of MaggieReed
4.19/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was certainly a very interesting beer- no hops w. sage as the bittering agent and I havnt had a gruit since Kuhnhenn Bros did their gruit series for the MIBG Summer Beer Fest...loved those and loved this.
Poured a deep almost purply brown, with very thin lacing present at the top.
smell- very very complex- sage and licorice and orange? it would take me three or mour pours to really pin this beer down.
t-as complex- interesting, very good...this one beer will hold your interest through a glass +...
m-honestly this is where this beer loses some points for me- it has a rather thin feel and not much carbonation, but overall this is a really excellent, interesting, perplexing choice- try it if you get the opportunity...and Cafe Amsterdam...awesome selection and an excellent menu.

 791 characters

Photo of AgentZero
3.27/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

My first gruit, had no idea what to expect, and probably am not rating it right for style, but here goes.

A - It's not a great looking beer, but it does look like something they would drink hundreds of years ago. Dark brown with a minimal tan head. Cold see this being something mixed up in a big wooden vat.

S - It's a weird, smell, but I suppose it's all relative to what you're used to. Lots of spices, things that I'm not sure I'm picking out right. I think I get sage, maybe some heather. A bit of citrus notes to it that seem somewhat out of place.

T - Heavily spiced, a bit of an almost ciderlike quality up front, and then a meld of bitterness and spices. People are saying coffee and roastedness on this, but I'm not getting any of that really. It's kind of sour, and quite bitter, and my taste buds are just getting obliterated by spice. I can't say it tastes good or bad, but definately weird compared to what I'm used to.

M - A bit too thin, for an ancient brew I was hopeing for something more manly.

D - Hard to get this down, as the flavors are very overpowering. It does not seem like 12% though.

 1,117 characters

Photo of John_M
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Was fortunate enough to find a bottle of this at the brewery back in July.

The beer pours a darkish amber color with pretty good head retention and lacing. The nose is interesting, consisting of some light, sweet fruit and underlying sour. This is replicated on the palate, except the tart fruit flavor seems to dominate the flavor profile. I also get some light cinnamon and brown sugar, but the tartness really dominates and over-rides whatever other flavors there are in this beer.

Considering that the abv. is 12%, I'm amazed by how light on the palate this beer is, and how easy it is to drink. There is no way I would ever guess this beer has that kinid of alcohol, making drinkabilty in this beer exceptional.... probably dangerously so if one weren't careful.

A very nice beer from Midnight Sun, and something I'm not sure I can ever recall tasting before. Very interesting stuff.

 892 characters

Photo of ManVersusBeer
3.97/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This is the first Gruit for my comparison with the Bathtub Gin I picked up on my trip to Anchorage. Got to love the land of the midnight sun!
Poured this into a small mug and it is dark like a cola and looks just as carbonated. A light brown foam head forms with an aggressive pour, but dissipates quickly with a bubbling noise and almost no lacing.
It smells sweet and dark with some honey, molasses, and fig. There is also a coffee roast aroma and scents of a spice cabinet prevail.
Sweetness of honey as it continues to taste as it smells, but a lot lighter than it looks. Candied pecans and walnuts with some plum and fig dark fruits. Lots of flavors in this one and becomes a bit wine-like with a berry and grape feel. It follows with a mild sourness and peppery hints with floral and herbaceous notes, especially heather flowers, predominant on the palate.
This is a super smooth brew with really no alcohol bite. It is incredibly drinkable with a tingly sensation from the carbonation.

 992 characters

Photo of DefenCorps
4.35/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Yea, another beer Kyle shared. Thanks, man. To Midnight Sun: this beer should be illegal; is this really 12%?

Dark brown in color with reddish brown highlights, there's a thin brown head with decent retention and no lace. The nose is interesting. Roasty with a little licorice, a little caramel, some juniper and a lot of heather and some sugar, this is solid. A little cocoa is perceived as well.
The palate opens tart and lemony with a great tartness. This has changed since I last had it, I don't remember it being sour. Juniper and heather are noticeable, with the juniper being clean (if that makes sense). Drying on the finish with a little roast, this is great. Light in body moderate to high in carbonation and a great finish, I'm absolutely digging this. Oh, and FWIW, the sourness is mostly lactic and clean, though there is a nice acidity from a touch of acetic character as well. This beer is exceptional.

 918 characters

Photo of kkipple
3.55/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Khaismus for sharing this weird, rare beer.

A. Uh, a dark gruit? Okay. Why not? This is Alaskan beer, they can do what they want. It's dark. Decent light tan head. Great retention. Good lacing. 'bout it. As a hilarious aside, the bottle boasts "0 IBUs".

S. Well, this is odd. Hard to categorize. Uh... lemon? Spice? Weird spice. Weird. Sour. Dark malt. Roast grain. Herbs. Weird.

T. Sour and lemonish, I cannot believe this is 12%. Dark roast and quite sour, with an odd herbal, heather-windy thing going on... Scottish moors? Sage? Citrus? Yeah, and.. dryish, some dark roast, coffee, tart... you have to really try it. It's sort of a gruit by taste, but with a fascinating roasty character and zero hops. I have no idea.

M. Dry, light, roasty, sour, sour finish. Hrm.... if this is 12%, it has zero warming character, zero booze smell, and you could tell me it was 5% and I'll believe it.

D. Nah, not really. Bizarre, not bad, but not something I'd drink much of... and 12%...??!

Cafe Amsterdam is one of the oddest beers I've ever had. I really don't know how to rate it or what to say... if it comes your way, sit down with a notepad.

 1,155 characters

Photo of randawakes
4.43/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

WOW! Sour fruits and herbs resembling a cider up front, then a flash of a porter taste with chocolate or cocoa backbone, then the sweetness kicks in again. This beer may catch you by surprise on the first sip with the lemony sourness. Busy, busy. First I've tried of its kind. Pours very dark brown - purple, with a mild light colored head. Very drinkable. WOW again.

 367 characters

Photo of Onenote81
3.27/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to alaskajoe for this interesting beer in a recent trade.

Poured into my mug. Pours a very muddy dark chocolate brown with a good inch's worth of tan head on top. This fizzes away very quickly to nothing, and leaves no lace at all. Smells of figs, plums, lemon zest, and hints of molasses.

Body is a bit thin. Carbonation level is moderate. This is an incredibly tart beer. Big lemon lime sourness going on. Some mild spiciness present but far overpowered by the tart fruity characteristics. No bitterness at all. This is my first of the style. I wouldn't call this the most drinkable beer. It's hard to get through with the sour aspects, but it's an interesting sipper for sure. Thanks, Joe, for the opportunity to give this one a try.

 747 characters

Photo of gford217
3.82/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle courtesy of a generous AK BA.

Pours a deep, dark mahogany that shows slightly copper around the edges with a small beige head that recedes to a healthy collar and leaves some lacing on the sides.

The aroma is very herbal with sage and thyme coming out the most. There is a little bit of citrus, orange peel and some dark roasted malts.

The taste is a complete herbal and citrus assault up front. There's a huge stinging lemony sourness that was much bigger than I was expecting. There is some thyme and hints of cinnamon on top of a robust malt backbone. The finish is very dry with herbs and spices leaving a tingling on the palate.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a ton of carbonation and a big tart sourness that almost puckers the mouth.

This is a big sourish gruit that I would never had pegged as over 10% ABV. It's definitely no the most drinkable beer in the world though with the herbs and sourness turning it into more of a sipper. Unique and tasty.

 980 characters

Photo of ccrida
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap that the MSBC loft - dark brown with an off-white collar.

Smell is pretty muted, muddled, not to strong or distinct. Oddly, there's a touch of rubber.

Taste is intense. Herbal, there's a tartness too it that curls the tongue - obviously some herb, I wasn't expecting it, but really dig it. It's balanced by a cocoa note, just a yummy maltiness. Wow, this is by far the best gruit I've ever had!

Mouthfeel is medium bodied side, a bit slick.

Drinkability is pretty high if you don't mind the herbal flavor. Kind of like Jägermeister, but mintier. Very good gruit, super unique, and super tasty. I couldn't drink a ton of this stuff, but certainly more then I expected! Very enjoyable.

 698 characters

Photo of MasterSki
3.73/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Frank for sharing this one. Served in a Duchess goblet.

A - Pours with a finger of light mocha foam that settles to a thin cap and thick collar. Transparent dark caramel brown color. Not much in the way of lacework.

S - Lactic sourness, mixed with peppercorn, roasted malts, milk chocolate, and a light lemony note. Thankfully the spice character is mellow, although I heard it was more present initially. There's some odd menthol character in the periphery. Very weird, but not off-putting.

T - Taste has more lemony sourness, some lactic acidity, but finishes with a sweet, roasty, chocolate finish. Alcohol is shockingly well-hidden. Again - odd, but not complete unenjoyable. For a gruit, it's still among the better ones I've tried.

M - Medium bodied, quite dry, with some zesty small bubbles that are pleasant and thankfully not harsh. Mouth-coating residuals, no heat.

D - I was expecting a train wreck when I heard infected gruit, but this was still decent. I wouldn't seek it out, but I wouldn't write it off completely. Perhaps they should take the remaining bottles and turn it into a sour brown down the road, just like they did with an infected doppelbock from a number of years ago.

 1,211 characters

Photo of DucksFan16
5/5  rDev +26.3%

Photo of Dactrius
4.08/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of t0rin0
3.25/5  rDev -17.9%

Photo of jrallen34
3.1/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I tried this at our dld tasting, phidelt thanks a lot. The beer is dark brown that is pretty watery and clear with a light tan head, ok retention. The aroma and taste are both just chalk full of herbs and spices, many of which were very hard to put a finger on. Heather, star anise, cinammon maybe? Whatever they are they are not a good combination as they overtake everything and just really create a muddled mess with way to much going on. Thank goodness I'm not living in the middle ages, not sure how I could drink this stuff.

 530 characters

4.5/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dark brown, near black body with a finger-high layer of foamy, beige-hued head.

Smell: Lightly sweet-smelling dark malts positively littered with savory notes of spice and herbs. Gruits smell the way I would imagine a witch or wizard's house might, with all those colorful trails of magic-imbued smoke and rune-etched stone apothecary-style jars containing everything from Dragon Scales to Bugbear Hair to Eye of Newt.

Taste: Sweetish, darkened malts upfront, though I usually am bad about making little mention of the malts in a gruit as I'm far, far too busy trying to pick apart all the other zany, twangy, fantastical flavors. Raw, leafy herbs tossed with Dr. Pepper and a pinch of meat seasoning. Peeled and discarded plum skins and a spoonful of Hot & Sour soup with some slight camphor tones. Continued peppery spiciness from start to finish. Drying, savory finish with one final sip of Dr. Pepper.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium-high carbonation.

Drinkability: Fairly decent! Gruits always make for a fun ride. I've had some good ones, I've had some not-so-good ones, and the reviews always end up looking like flavor-based refrigerator magnet poetry.

 1,188 characters

Cafe Amsterdam 10th Anniversary Gruit from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 3.96 out of 5 with 25 ratings